China moves to restrict death penalty —but not for drugs

Posted on September 15th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

ChinaUnited Nations human rights experts on Sept. 11 welcomed a recommendation to abolish the death penalty by India, as well as a decision to reduce the number of crimes subject to the death penalty in the world's top executioner by far: China.  The better news was that concerning India—which has thousands on death row, but has only carried out four executions so far this century (AP, July 29).

China: officialdom hypes drug scare

Posted on May 12th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

ChinaHong Kong's South China Morning Post reports May 12 that Chinese authorities are warning of a rapid rise in abuse of synthetic drugs. The number of "registered abusers" of synthetic drugs—a whopping 1.46 million who get high on methamphetamine, ketamine and ecstasy—for the first time overtook that of registered heroin addicts last year, according to the National Narcotics Control Commission. In total, there were said to be 2.95 million registered abusers of all drugs, but the NNCC estimated the real figure—including those not registered—was over 14 million. NNCC deputy chief Liu Yuejin said cross-border trafficking was also rising because of the increasing demand for drugs in the People's Republic—but also that internal production is rising, wth drug laboratories shifting from coastal areas to inland provinces.

Laos to lighten up on medicinal opium?

Posted on April 5th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

South East AsiaLaos was once a major opium producer—and now production is creeping up there again after eradication efforts had dramatically slashed it. But this time around authorities may take a more tolerant and realistic approach. Voice of America reported March 27 that the Asian Development Bank and other international donors helping Laos promote alternatives to opium production are actually listening to analysts who emphasize the reasons for the bounce in production. Poppy cultivation in Laos fell from a peak of 26,800 hectares in 1998 to 1,800 hectares by 2005 under an aggressive eradication program. In 2006 the Laotian government declared the country "drug free." Now, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) finds cultivation in Laos rose to some 6,200 hectares in 2014. However, while the far greater quantities of opium grown in neighboring Burma are largely processed into heroin for export, much of that in Laos is consumed locally for traditional and medicinal use by hill tribes in country's remote north.

Burma opium war spills into China

Posted on March 17th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

South East AsiaAfter weeks of escalating tensions along the remote mountain border, a Burmese MiG-29 fighter jet carried out an air-strike on Chinese territory March 13, killing four people working in a sugar-cane field in Yunnan province. Chinese authorities stepped up security along the border and registered a diplomatic protest. Burma, after initially denying everything, issued a statement expressing "deep sorrow" over the deaths. But Beijing says there have been at least three similar incidents of bombs from Burmese government forces falling in Chinese territory in recent weeks, and warned of "decisive" measures if there were any more. This all concerns the fast-escalating war in Burma's northern Shan state, where the rebel army of the Kokang ethnicity has again taken up arms against the government. More than 50,000 people—mostly Kokang—have fled the fighting into Chinese territory since the war was re-ignited earlier this year, and Burma accuses local military commanders in China of allowing the rebels to establish a staging ground in the border zone. (BBC News, March 16; Al Jazeera, March 15; Reuters, IBT, March 14)

Will Burma opium war draw in China?

Posted on February 16th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

South East AsiaIn another grim signal of a widening war in northern Burma's opium zones, last week saw an outbreak of intense fighting between government forces and ethnic rebels, prompting some 50,000 Kokang civilians to flee across the border to China. The clashes at the town of Laukkai (also rendered Laogai), Shan state, saw government air-strikes and helicopter strafing on villages controlled by the Kokang rebel group, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and two allied militias. Some 50 government troops have been killed in the fighting, and soliders have recovered the bodies of several rebels. A line of refugees 10 kilometers long has reportedly piled up at the Chinese border crossing of Nansan. (AP, Feb. 14; Democratic Voice of Burma, Feb. 12; The Irrawady, Feb. 11)

Burma burns opium, but UN sees hype

Posted on July 7th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , .

South East AsiaTo mark International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking June 26, Burmese authorities held drug-burning ceremonies, boasting the destruction of seized opium, heroin and methamphetamine said to be worth a combined $130 million. The mass burnings in Rangoon, Mandalay and Taunggyi were attended by officials from the DEA as well as from Chinese drug enforcement agencies. But UN officials meanwhile warned that illicit drug production in Burma continued to rise—mostly to supply a growing Asian market. Jeremy Douglas, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Southeast Asia representative, told The Irrawady website that Burmese opium production was "in 2006, at the lowest point, representing roughly 7% of the global production; it is now 18%. So it has increased year on year." As usual, the bulk of the opium was produced in Shan and Kachin states, where tribal armies have long used the opium trade to finance their insurgencies. But Douglas, speaking at a Rangoon press conference announcing release of the UNODC's new World Drug Report, also said Shan state has become a major transshipment point for methamphetamine—seizures of which in Southeast Asia are at the "highest levels ever recorded." 

China's cannabis contradiction

Posted on June 29th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

ChinaOn June 26, International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, China's Supreme People's Court announced with pride that a whopping 39,762 have been sentenced for drug-related offenses in the People's Republic the first five months of 2014, up more than 27% for the same period last year. The official state news agency Xinhua reported that a total of 9,168, or about 23%, were sentenced to more than five years, life imprisonment, or death. A quoted SPC official made much of a supposedly growing drug meance. "Drug-related crimes have been spreading from bordering and coastal areas to the country's inland," said deputy jurist Ma Yan. South China's Guangdong province, with its booming export zones and free-wheeling capitalism, has topped the list since 2007. Yunnan and Guangxi, bordering Southeast Asia's opium-producing Golden Triangle, also continued to report high rates of drug-related crimes. But such cases are also mushrooming in inland Chongqing and northern Liaoning, Ma said. No breakdown was provided of the substances in question, but a proporiton of the cases certainly included cannabis.

Middle East leads global execution spike

Posted on April 3rd, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .

Middle EastAmnesty International's latest global report on the death penalty, "Death Sentences and Executions: 2013," finds that a number of nations in the Middle East have fueled a spike in global figures with a spree of executions. Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia alone accounted for almost 80% of all reported executions carried out worldwide in 2013—excluding China, where official figures are secret. The upsurge in executions in Iran and Iraq accounts for a global jump of nearly 15% from 2012. Across the Middle East and North Africa, at least 638 people were executed in 2013—mostly by beheadings, hangings or firing squad. In Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, capital punishment was imposed for drug offenses. In Saudi Arabia, one man was executed for "adultery." Vaguely worded offenses, such as moharebeh ("enmity against God"), were used in Iran to repress the political activities of ethnic minorities such as the Kurds.

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