Archive for the ‘Drug’ category

The World Must Not Give Up!

December 4, 2007

By: Min Khin Kyaw 

(The author is 88 Generation leader, poet and artist)  

I have been inspired by the international pressure on the junta so far. More recently, both England and France and the US keeps reminding the dialogue must go ahead and for that the pressure on the junta is not waning. Unfortunately, the junta is still refusing to negotiate with the United Nations – let alone with democratic movement as more arrests have been there. And sending troops to KNU and tensions with others insurgent groups also indicates the resurfacing disagreement of the junta over the political developments – is another rejection of the totalitarian rule.

We have seen in Singapore that, how the junta has tried to treat – Mr. Gambari like other special UN envoys to Burma. Unlike previous envoys, he seems to possess a special quality but he still has to outwit the junta even though the international pressures are supporting his mission.   We certainly have to see the dialogue between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Than Shwe. This is the tasks and main objective. However, he has no motive for dialogue and not even responding to let her see her team again. So it’s sure she will not be released – despite EU and ASEAN has asked in Singapore summit. It’s crystal clear that the junta will not give up its ground even an inch.    

Instead of worry, we only have one condition – to push ahead no matter what. I want to see people more united and trying to do just for that. As long as the general population of Burma can boycott the authorities in various ways or showing defiance, I hope the authorities themselves will become inspired and sometimes in the future they would side with the people. The monks must keep leading the way of defying.   

On the other hand, Mr. Gambari must not give up despite knowing how the scenario between him and the junta will develop. I think both NLD and the generals must give their roadmap plans to Mr. Gambari: what to discuss and how to discuss with a timeframe so he will be able to develop a workable structure; and also he can discuss the plan with the concern parties including ASEAN countries. Even if the junta wouldn’t give its plan to Mr. Gambari, as it’s about to push the seven step roadmap ahead as China seems to be happy with it, Mr. Gambari should get the plans of NLD and develop it into the framework for discussion.   It seems the neighbours of the junta are giving no real pressure, although they warmly welcomed Mr. Gambari. I think he has more works to do with them. If necessary, he should ask them to speak with the junta as far as the region concerns; if they don’t, then there is no real pressure – especially from China  

Apart from above, we need that the international community should ask junta to pardon all activists arrested recently.   

ASEAN with Burma Issue  

It is good that, ASEAN still thinks that there is a chance for good change. However, the idea of giving humanitarian aids to the junta, the Cambodian view as a member of ASEAN, is just another repetition. But the lesson of the past is forgotten, that, if a support is not for itself, the junta simply doesn’t accept?

I think, it appears as ASEAN is still hopeful that humanitarian effort of the good offices would be accepted. As ASEAN insists the junta needs support – then, ASEAN has to push the junta to accept such supports and if it ever happens, this effort of ASEAN will not be forgotten. It’s true the people of Burma need humanitarian aids: medical supply and education about various diseases, especially HIV; and the sooner this happens, the better. Therefore, both UN and ASEAN should insist the junta to do just for this.

However, the forced closure of a monastery that provided HIV patients is a contradiction to this idea unfortunately; and also the effort HIV doctor Ma Phyu Phyu Thin was disrupted and now she is detained despite the wishes of international community to keep restraints in further arrests. Yet, ASEAN can do the push and it will be a good task for ASEAN to seek this through firm realistic commitment. But what if the junta denies again? Before any attempt, ASEAN should have alternative ideas.  

If ASEAN is happy about this idea, it must develop the plan agreed by its members as soon as possible. It must include the consideration of refugees along the borders, Burmese workers in ASEAN countries and political developments with various insurgent groups who will have to give up fighting, when they get peace and security of their peoples.   

And ASEAN should consider how politics of all ethnic groups can be improved by humanitarian efforts; it’s true that the ethnics are desperate to get attention from regional countries. As soon as an agreement for peace between the junta and the ethnic groups, especially the Karens, as a fresh fighting between the two sides is looming, the dream of a democratic country of united ethnics of Burma will become closer to be true.   Politically, ASEAN has to be more careful than ever as the seven step roadmap effort of the junta is a serious issue. As the junta is denying to see and free political leaders to participate in the process of reconciliation and composing future constitution, there people cannot accept any development that made by the junta alone with its 54 misrepresentatives of the people. Hence, ASEAN must not show any gesture that can be interpreted as agreement or support to the foul effort of the junta.   Even though Democracy in Burma and peace in the region will certainly benefit every country that has relationship with Burma, as long as the ASEAN is more content with current situation than to be busy with an attempt for a better future, Burmese people will not have equal share of any good things in the region. 

Business with the Junta  

Once again, the debate of doing business with the ruling military junta has re-emerged that, it is ethical or not? And the case of TOTAL is always remain a good example! Recently the management of TOTAL has argued that, “We feel the country would have evolved much more if more responsible companies had remained… Development of human rights goes along with the development of the economy.”   Then how many people are currently employed by TOTAL and how much do they get paid has to be answered by TOTAL? It is also necessary to know that, how much junta receives every year from TOTAL and how much does the junta spends for the people from that income? In the areas where TOTAL operates, do all people get the similar benefits or how have they been affected because of TOTAL’s operations or are they affected to get worse? Now how can TOTAL calculate it gives better life for the people where it operates?  By the argument ‘Development of human rights goes along with the development of the economy’, TOTAL has to come up with a statement how it can improve the entire Burma with its operations with the junta that the junta will comply with the idea of development. And TOTAL has to provide evidences that the junta is doing just that.   And also, as TOTAL has argued for all business tied with the junta by its statement on economy provides human rights development, TOTAL has to prove that all other companies are doing the same to develop the local communities.

But how long will the people of Burma have to wait for the human right development made by this kind of business-bound efforts. Can TOTAL calculate year-by-year improvement that happened in past few years? How many years have passed and what have happened for the sake of the people and are they sufficient enough to be desirable?   And does TOTAL care about entire Burma or just a local where it operates? It’s clear that by its own words, TOTAL cares only about its operation but ignoring the entire Burma and the concern of wider community.  

We all know that many people were forced to move and lost their livelihoods as consequence of business projects. Now also, the dam projects in Burma will make everything bad luck to the local people. TOTAL cannot deny this. Even in China, dams are causing problems every year. There is no regulation in Burma that the project must conduct properly so it will be worse. As doing business in Burma, anything happening in Burma is directly related to TOTAL whilst the entire country is fighting against the junta which TOTAL is supporting. But not only TOTAL, all other businesses that link with the junta are a main concern of income for the junta. As TOTAL and all other companies in Burma cannot improve Burma in a few years, they must leave; the reason is once there is no income, the junta will fall in a year.   

If TOTAL (and any other companies) is really concerned about human rights, it must work with democratic side and oppose the junta. Unless TOTAL changes side, its argument is only a self-serving rhetoric. TOTAL, as a major gas company has to explain, why the junta imposed the price hikes on fossil fuels that caused the recent political movements?

(The End) 

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Letter of Richard Mookerdum for Military Rulers and My Answers!

November 23, 2007

On 21st of November 2007, after uploading the news-article entitled, “GA Third Committee approves Burma Resolution despite India’s dissent”, I received a comment from one person named Mr. Richard Mookerdum supporting military regime. Even earlier, I had received his one comment but I couldn’t publish it because of the abusive nature of his logics supporting military junta but I feel that by doing so I’m committing a heinous crime against Gandhian principles of running away to answer even the worst form of criticism. So, I have published his comment and attempted to answer all his points, which could be viewed at the end of the post – “GA Third Committee approves Burma Resolution despite India’s dissent” in the comment section.  

 

Rajshekhar

Editor, Burma Review 

ASEAN-INDIA-CHINA accepts Democracy or Not?

November 22, 2007

By: Min Khin Kyaw  

(The author is 88 Generation leader, poet and artist)

Introduction:  

When the saffron revolution started, the whole region seemed taken by surprise; the junta was expected that it would take tough actions unreasonably though. The UNSC (United Nations Security Council) members gathered in immediacy to discuss about the August-September 2007 events; however, it couldn’t persuade the junta not to crack down the demonstrations with violence, as predicted by many Burmese. People from free societies bitterly responded. But we are not really sure what encouraged the junta to dare such way? But we know China was opposing UNSC not to take any tough decision. And India also followed China by signing oil import agreement worth several millions. Both of them have been bluntly opposing any democratic change simply for self-interests sharing the benefits with the military junta. Even though the people of Burma expected peaceful negotiations with the junta, the two countries didn’t even care about this and eventually the crack-down started – many died and 3000 arrested according to the junta, however it didn’t includes figures of arrests in other parts of Burma.     

When the pressures from the west and the intensive efforts of the UN have yielded some results in Burma, we see some progresses, to hope for democracy to come sooner. In this respect, the international sanctions and all other pressures have been significant. We have made some worry to the junta mainly in its financial sector; this worry is certainly a necessary reaction from the junta criticizing west reflecting such pressures. Hence, it’s quite clear we have to keep this momentum.  Therefore, we have to target all incomes and stop them. When we look around, we can only find two major inflows: one from ASEAN and one from China. We have to pursue the withdrawal of China or the pressure of ASEAN. Once any of these happened, the junta will come to the table of dialogue for real. This can be expected as the survival of the generals will become only negotiation when no more money left for keeping themselves in powers. We can only let the junta one choice; that is to start dialogue sincerely.   

So now all we have to pursue is either China’s or ASEAN’s good action. Rather wasting time and delaying real opportunity for changes, both China and ASEAN must work together with the people of Burma decisively.    

Chinese leaders know that Burma issue being related to the image of China is a bad advertisement. Once China accepts reality of Burma and offers real friendship to the people of Burma, China will become a good neighbour. When China provides a good relationship to the people of Burma, Burma will provide it a pathway to the Indian Ocean for its economic interests.   

India’s Dilemma:  

India is in the same position like China. It is true that, once India was a good friend of the people of Burma. But Indians leaders sacrificed this for oil and maintaining good relationship with the junta. Still Indian leaders are hoping that the junta might come to them for support when the pressures increases. But can Indian leaders rescue the junta by all necessary efforts? Do they really believe that, they can ever able to persuade the junta from China? It is true that the junta signed an agreement with India for oil export, but India is still far behind China. And once the junta could ever overcome international pressure with the help of China, then India will have no way to achieve and would be sidelined again. Indian government has yet to learn from ASEAN-Myanmar relationship. So it is important that, Indian government should preserve the past good relationship with the people of Burma rather then engaging with military junta.  

ASEAN’s Role:  

ASEAN is certainly on the transitional line, as it has been drafting for a better change. It has all the rights to pursue its regional and global interests. It knows what best for its image and member countries – this is not the interests of a country or a few countries. ASEAN should not bow to any hijacker or Burma’s junta in this matter; however, ASEAN has yet to show its strength or its good intention for Burmese people. It has become clearer now that ASEAN is part of the answer for democracy, human rights and peace for Burma. ASEAN has become a very important part to take very serious responsibility for the future of Southeast Asia. ASEAN has sided with the junta and helped it in various incidents; and now again ASEAN leaders have using the same tones which were able to buy time for the generals – contrasting their recent condemnation.    

Both China and ASEAN can do whatever they like but this time, it should be for the people of Burma. The military junta has become weaken by the west with tough sanctions. It seems it might not be able to go on all alone without the rescue from ASEAN. Once the financial and diplomatic supports from a few neighbours: China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand evaporates, the generals will certainly have only one choice – to negotiate with the people of Burma. Once again, the UN will be able to achieve another victory the good of the region.   Comprehensively, ASEAN is critical and essential in changing the region. ASEAN has responsibility to do this. ASEAN must force the junta to do a good sincere job – instead, ASEAN has failed by going backward as supporting the junta. Burma has to change for the better future and this must be prioritized as an interest of this region.  ASEAN should concentrate its energy here. ASEAN must provide security of every people in the region. ASEAN leaders can do this and should do this sooner than later. The changes inside Burma are rather to make itself an opportunity for all investments and access of all different countries.    

Obviously, there will be no regrettable outcomes from implementing democracy and peace in Burma. Unfortunately, ASEAN has never met the leaders of the people. Then it’s best not to criticize them and rather not assume that Burma will be worse-off when they get the powers or change toward democracy too fast.    

Is there any better way to convince ASEAN leaders? How should the people Burma provide the proofs that Burma will be better-off? What is the real reason to claim the freedom to grow crops, freedom to sell them with market price and pay income tax to the country will make Burma worse-off? And also how all sorts of freedoms in all parts of Burma will bring the Union of Burma down?    

Burma has been selling all her natural resources to the world through its neighbours for fifty years. Can ASEAN leaders provide any evidence how the people of Burma ever benefited with this trade? And has any neighbour ever provided any good advices to the dictators of Burma how the people of Burma can benefit and improve the living standards? Will ASEAN leaders make a good advice to the junta in the next ASEAN meeting?   There are many examples in world history that with the end of dictatorship people start enjoying freedom and prosperity. This will certainly happen in Burma too and this is what the majority is primarily fighting for? The change is to develop Burma in various ways and once the people have the chance, they will do just that. This can be done with the money equivalent to the income of the junta from selling oil, gems and other natural resources.   

Task of Burmese People:   

What else the people of Burma must do? Off course, one will be building the neediest infrastructure for transportation, such as rail-networks and seaports that will be used by all neighbouring countries – including Laos. This will simply guarantee long-term income, though would be no much, like Suez Canal. China will need this to link to Indian Ocean. ASEAN and India will need this to exchange trade. More importantly, the security and trade paths provided democratic Burma will become a major advantage for all three regions which the current junta cannot. Prosperity will bring stability to Burma. It will educate young and new generations. This can happen within five years if good efforts will be able to make. Then all three regions will be well-connected.     On the other hand, the drug and human trafficking have to be stopped or lowered. Once, the farmers are provided alternative incomes, they will be able to avoid this unclean source. The UN made some efforts but as the junta cannot provide any alternative and initiative, this effort seems already has failed. All neighbouring countries have been silent. They have taken no further actions apart from blaming the farmers and traders. Instead, the region should emphasize the conditions that squeezing out the drugs.    

Now it’s clear that the people of Burma desperately need everything changed – whatever that will do the task, we accept it. It’s not the time to argue – we don’t care whatever our future become after the fall of this military junta. This is our destiny and we have chosen this path. We don’t want any country or any organization arguing against our choice. And we have made clear: we want sanction and sanction alone against the junta. We don’t want any constructive engagement or anything alike that prolonging our suffering.    

Time for Action: 

This is the time for action and we don’t want arguments. All countries having business link with the junta must stop their activities at once. This is the will of all peoples of Burma. The will of the dictators are to gain more supports from China and ASEAN only to hold on power as long as they survive. The differences between the will of the people and the will of the dictators are not compactable. The will of people is to improve the country. The will of the dictators is to make themselves fat. Therefore, all suggestions to provide aids to the junta’s own sake alone can no longer be reasonable.    

Actually, the side of constructive engagement party has never ever had any plan to bring Burma to democracy so far. Apart from their benefits from trading Burma’s natural resources, they have had no significant to claim Burma’s peoples have benefited from their engagement policies. Worst of all, they sold arms that will be used no external enemies but against the peoples of Burma. Hundred of villages have been destroyed and thousands displaced. But the engagement side never ever raises a question or quarry or suggest not doing so. This is the plain truth and it stinks.   

Thailand had come with dialogue plans twice but the first one was well placed-aside and the second was rejected by the military junta in spite of the willingness of the leaders of the people of Burma. Thailand has no prospect to achieve anything politically over the junta as there was no support or pressure from within ASEAN itself.    

As a matter of fact, ASEAN never ever had any plan of its own to make the region a better place. Apart from its rhetoric favouring trade with brutal dictators, ASEAN has never clearly showed its own way of achieving a better future of the group – let alone democracy in Burma. ASEAN has had no plan at all to pursue the freedom of the people of Burma since it made Burma a member but it has only pursued its own objective of economic advantages over other countries, and provided solutions to the junta how to keep powers ever more.   

Result of ASEAN Membership to Burma:  

There was no evidence Burma’s people ever achieved any benefit from the membership. But since Burma became ASEAN member, the people of Burma have to suffer more. This is the truth. Even then (even the group itself has closely evidenced the problems which the peoples of Burma have been unable to avoid) the leading countries of ASEAN which have benefited most from Burma have become the mouthpieces of the junta although they know nothing to back their claims. Even recently, Singapore transmitted that the generals believe Burma has democracy – this is ridiculous. It’s clear that ASEAN would never join the world to pose sanction on the junta the only effect the junta fears. Or is it a fear of ASEAN itself if it wouldn’t be able to monopolize the junta over the resources of Burma? Worse, the ASEAN doesn’t seem to come up with any truthful conversation about Burma at all.    

Whatever words the engagement side had included in their repeating rhetoric, they have no situation to achieve anything politically. Yet the future of this dialogue is not very certain because the junta has been receiving more income supports from its trading partners. Therefore, it has been so far clear evident that the engagement side has utterly failed any political process in Burma in the past and now that these trading partners are undermining the efforts of the UN good office even though they have cooperated with Mr. Gambari however. Imagine how a two-headed horse eats from two stacks grass at the same time.   

Moreover, to make dialogue between the two opposite sides really happen, what else the world should do? What has made the junta to accept Mr. Gambari and Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi for dialogue? This is certainly not any effect of any effort of any engagement but pressures. To make dialogue between the two opposite sides really happen, what else the world should do whence the pressures have yielded some results when engagement policies have just undermined them? One thing we have certainly to do is to take all possible actions against any companies or any countries that support the junta until they abandon their supports.     

The result of 19 years rule of the junta with kleptomaniac economic activities of its generals and their supporters is obvious. Nothing else can ever make Burmese people into a state like this. ASEAN should congratulate the junta for such achievement as it wants such recognition. It’s true that Burma has now more refugees, significant brain-drains, more political prisoners, more deaths in jails, severer poverty, more uprising and also more denials from the supporters of the junta.   

What Burmese achieved in Present Scenario?    

What have the people of Burma achieved from ongoing tension caused by recent uprising against the military? We get supports from many countries with tough sanction against the junta, the pressure from the UNSC and mass arrests in Burma. What has the junta received from their brutality against the peaceful population? Serious sanctions from the west and Australia, verbal revulsion from ASEAN and more economic supports from its trading partners. What have the people of Burma got from ASEAN? Nothing! Not even the right to demonstrate in Singapore in front of Burmese embassy! Double taxation is still there!    It’s clear that the problem of political and economic crises in Burma seem to be necessary to go on like this so that the beneficiaries can exploit the situation as usual. They will do whatever they can to keep this. Well, do we still have to wait and see what might change in the 13th ASEAN Summit and East Asia summit? This is not acceptable. Therefore, all peoples of Burma have to oppose all the supporters of their common enemy in all forms. The voice of the people of Burma is clear, whether the military junta and its trading partners can accept this or not? ‘We Want Democracy!’ And human rights and human dignity all together in one package! So we must fight on against the witty kleptomaniac junta.    

ASEAN misinformed about National Convention and Facts?     

ASEAN has been never ever informed, how the National Convention (NC) was held and how it was democratic? ASEAN never ever questioned the generals how the NC was democratic but supported it anyway. Even then the ASEAN argued the generals made some progresses so engagement worked somehow when sanction and pressures have failed. Further, ASEAN never ever explained why they said, that the generals were making progresses? However, the people of Burma claimed that, the NC was a sham, as it was done with undemocratic process. But ASEAN failed to hear the people of Burma let alone to support us.    

Now the military junta has started drafting new constitution for Burma. Certainly, the people of Burma will not be able to have a say. But ASEAN might again claim a new progress being started. ASEAN has yet to explain how its economic engagement is really achieving goals toward genuine democracy? 

On the other hand, the ASEAN leading countries have claimed direct progress to democracy in Burma might make a chaos the way it happens in Iraq. Those who oppose the change in Burma cannot clearly explain why – and they also failed to accept the reality of 1990 election results and the leadership of Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi. Again, the people of Burma have shown their unity and plans how they can keep peace and stability. Even then, ASEAN has failed to support this and find ways to improve the lives of the people of Burma. And ASEAN leaders would never dream of meeting any ethnic leaders even though they pretend to worry if chaos be there when the junta falls.   

In contrast, the ASEAN leaders didn’t fail to attend the funeral of a murderer Mr. Soe Win to say how he was their close friend – indeed, this must be true. It happened just after Singapore’s condemnation to the junta for its killing of the monks and peaceful demonstrators. This truly has proved ASEAN is a true friend of the most brutal regime against its own people but not a friend of the people of Burma. This kind of approach against the Burmese people is outrageous and obviously one-sided.  It’s true the involvement of ASEAN in human rights issues in Burma is limited but it has hurt the people of Burma significantly for more than a decade by prolonging the misrule of the junta.  

India’s Mistakes:  

Indian government is also making its own reputation over the bloodshed in Burma. Whilst China signaled they’d nothing against the junta, India was fast enough to sign with the junta for oil supply – and sooner, ten people were killed and many monasteries were raged. Indian government is thus also responsible as it has encouraged the junta for another massacre to take place in Burma. Since then, Indian government has never supported democracy in Burma – apart from a meeting with Mr. Gambari. It seems it has silently declared war against democracy in Burma. Definitely, the people of Burma will not forget this. We will keep our belief that India and China triggered the military junta to kill the monks and peaceful people, including a Japanese reporter.

Once some of top ASEAN leaders were supreme pro-Burma’s military junta but now most of them are retired; however, their legacies will go along the history of Burma’s democratic struggles. Nothing last forever, it’s true but the good actions of the leaders last longer than anything else in human history with gratitude from the people who were looked after; and also the powerful villains parallel to these good leaders will be known all along for their villainy. This is what the junta and its supporters have to know. We don’t want the follow kind of democracy.   

But we want True Freedoms! True Democracy! Government run by the people; especially by the rule of majority wishes. A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections. A political unit that has a democratic government, which should capitalized: the principles and policies of the successful Democratic Party of the U.S, Where the common people, especially when constituting the source of political authority finds absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges.   We want this kind of Democracy! And we want it now. We don’t want any country or any company prolonging the lifespan of the kleptomaniac cunning junta. Yes, we know Afghanistan, East Timor, Iraq and Bali. The ethnics of Burma will unite and share the union peacefully.     

(THE END)   

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Sino-Burmese Border: Drug and AIDS menace as a security threat in Southeast Asia

October 6, 2007

By: Paramita Das

Golden Crescent and Golden Triangle are the two regions where different types of drug and opium are produced on a large scale. Golden Crescent covers Afghanistan and Pakistan. Golden Triangle includes a part of Southern China, Central Burma and parts of Thailand. Burma is playing the central role in drug trafficking and opium cultivation and bearing the maximum disastrous effect along with its neighbouring countries. This paper likes to discuss illegal drug trade and cultivation of opium at ChinaBurma border and how these are threatening security of the region and Burma’s ruling military junta’s seriousness towards it.

Since 1950s opium and drugs were sources of fund for many insurgent groups in the region. With the defeat of Kuomintang forces by the Peoples’ Republic of China the Kuomintang forces migrated to Burma and established its bases there. The Kuomintang forces depended on opium and heroin production to carry on their war against the PRC. On the other side of the border China used to support and provided different aids to the Communist Party of Burma. But with the coming of Deng Xiaoping in 1978 the Chinese policy of assistance to the CPB was withdrawn. Since then the opium production or drug trafficking became the lifeline of the CPB. In 1989 unity of the CPB was broke down and it resulted into the rise of different ethnic groups. These groups made ceasefire agreement with the then secretary general Khin Nyunt. According to the agreement they were allowed opium cultivation in return of promise not to raise arms against the junta in future. [i]Among these insurgent groups most important is the United Wa State Army which are dubbed by the U.S. State Department as the “world’s largest drug trafficking militia”. [ii]

Sociologically, the people engaged in drug trade and poppy cultivation in Burma are ethnic Chinese from Burma, Thailand and Hongkong. The Chinese Muslims of Hui nationalities are also engaged in drug trade. In Burma most of the ethnic people farmers of the Wa and Shan state are engaged in poppy cultivation. Without poppy cultivation their life would become standstill as it has happened in Wa state after the ban imposed by United Wa State Army in Wa region of northern Shan state in June, 2005. Now they are questioning the ban in Wa region (only). [iii]

There are different routes by which different types of drug are distributing drugs to different parts of Burma and to other Asian countries specially China, India, and Thailand. The first route begins from the Kokang and Mong Ko areas which pass through Chinese border towns of Wanding, Ruili and via it reaches Kunming.[iv] The second route leads from Kengtung area near the border towns with Laos, via Jinghong in Xishuangbanna to Kunming.” [v] Much of the amphetamines produced in Burma are shipped through Mekong river to China[vi] There are other routes by which drugs are coming to India every year. Geographically the first receivers among Indian states are North-East Indian states. The drug lords of these states receive brown sugar and heroin from Sagaing area in north-west Burma to Tamu near Manipur.[vii] Moreh in Manipur is one of the international trading centres. Drugs are taken to Mizoram from there via Koley and Tiddim.[viii] Petty traders from Manipur in India come to Mandalay to buy high grade No.4 heroin.[ix] There are other routes also to export drugs to India from Burma.

Burma is situated at the centre of all these routes since this country is the hub of poppy cultivation. It is grown in Shan, Kachin and Kayah states bordering China, Laos and Thailand.[x] Burma is the main amphetamine producer in Southeast Asia and the second largest opium producer in the world.[xi] Ninety percent of Burma’s opium poppy production takes place in Shan state. From there it can be quickly exported to China.

In 2004 Burma produced approximately 700 million amphetamine tablets. [xii] Amphetamines produced in Burma are trafficked to the countries which are sharing border with Burma, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Laos and China. Every year Thailand receives 900 million amphetamine pills from Burma through its northern border with Burma and Laos.[xiii] But Burma does not have factories which can produce chemicals essentially needed for production of different types of drugs. Here factories in India and China have filled up this gap. China is the biggest producer of numerous precursor chemicals used in the manufacture of amphetamines. [xiv] In India some companies based in Maharashtra are producer of precursor like ephedrine.[xv] Ephedrine first penetrated Burma from China in late 1996. More ephedrine imported from India in 1998 followed by caffeine and ATS production accessories from Thailand.[xvi]

In 2006 the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabo said “at present the Sino-Myanmar border area is being flooded with drugs, posing a huge danger to the society and people.” [xvii] The Sino-Burmese border is flooded with people infected with HIV and AIDS virus. Other outcome of drug trafficking are weaponization of society and rise in crime related activities. According to the statistics of China the number of known drug addicts was increased 35% from 2000 to 1.2 million by early 2005.[xviii] There is rapid spread of HIV epidemics resulting from unsafe injections is well documented in countries in and around the Golden Triangle such as in Burma, China, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and more recently in Indonesia [xix] In the early 1990s, the outbreak of HIV epidemic began among ethnic minority community in three mountain districts along the Sino-Burma border specially among the Kachin, and the Wa ethnic groups. In China the Ministry of Health reported that the first HIV/AIDS cases appeared in China in 1985, and that of as 1997, only Yunnan province has reported more than 1000 cases mostly among minorities. [xx] According to the Chinese Government’s statistics of 2001 there had been around 600,000 to 800,000 people living with HIV/AIDS.[xxi]

In 2003 it was estimated by the Chinese government that there were 61.1% people who were infected in HIV through drug use. [xxii] The highest rate of HIV infection is prevalent in Yunnan, bordering Burma. This region is the birth place of HIV epidemic in China. There virus had spread among the non IDU (injecting drug users) also.[xxiii] (Bulletins on Narcotics pg.03) IDU were the first group in which the epidemic spread of HIV was detected in China, Burma, Indonesia, and Malaysia.[xxiv] (IBID) In Burma, the United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) and the Ministry of Health of Burma identified drug use rates among township adults of 2-25% in 1995.[xxv]

If we look at India we will find the same picture. A recent report published by UNDOC there is ‘generalized epidemic’ of HIV among the injecting drug users among the North-East Indian states. India’s northeast-Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Tripura are declared as one of the high risk zones in India with close to 100,000 people infected with HIV.[xxvi] The other neighbouring countries are also infected with this virus on a large scale.

Various measures are taken up to combat drug trafficking and AIDS menace in Sino-Burmese border by China, Burma, ASEAN and some NGOs also. In 1991 an agreement was signed between China and Burma. By this agreement China was putting pressure on Burma to curb drug trafficking in their border area. In 1993 Foreign Secretary of India Dixit had a meeting with the Burmese foreign ministry U Aye, where the need for cooperation in managing the common border between the two countries against drug trafficking, smuggling and insurgency was emphasized. [xxvii] In 1990 the Chinese authorities introduced stronger legislation and penalties including death sentences, beefed up narcotics police, collaborated with the (United States) Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP).[xxviii] The most important step was imposition of ban on opium cultivation in United Wa State Army territories. The rigorous punishment including death sentence was announced for violation of this order. [xxix]

In 2004 China signed an accord with Burma to combat drug trafficking.[xxx] In 2005 a painstaking drug bust operation was taken spanning 11 months. In the operation police forces of four countries Burma, China, Laos and Thailand coordinated each other. As a result 70 suspects including Han Yongwan were arrested and more than 726 kilograms of heroin were seized.[xxxi]

China and its neighbours Southeast Asia vowed to further strengthen their cooperative efforts in fighting illicit drugs especially the increasing menace of amphetamine type stimulants (ATS) at the Second International Congress of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China Co-operative Operations in Response to Dangerous Drugs (ACCORD) on October 20., 2005.[xxxii] A press conference called by the State Peace and Development Council on October 23, 2005 it was said that “Myanmar does not ignore nor undutiful to the drug eradication measures as blamed groundlessly by pessimistic foreign countries and anti-organizations.” [xxxiii] As far as the operation of 2005 was concerned the SPDC had shown cooperation and willingness of Burma to eradicate drug business in the region.

Nevertheless drug trafficking and drug related crime are spreading on a large scale in the region. It jeopardizes public health, public security, economy and threatens security of the entire region. In China of the entire registered drug addict population 80% of male users were involved in other illegal activities, while 80% females worked as prostitutes.[xxxiv] In some areas drug addicts are engaged in 60% to 80% robberies and thefts. [xxxv] The rise in prostitution or sex industry is common in the entire region. Weaponization of the region is another threatening outcome of the entire region. Drugs are exchanged with weapons not only along the Sino-Burmese border but along the Nagaland-Burmese border also. Though United Wa State Army territories were banned from poppy cultivation hundred of poppy farmers of the region reportedly moved to Mawfa area under Burma Army Command. [xxxvi] On the west of the Salween, farmers continued cultivation under strict supervision of pro junta military forces.[xxxvii] Apparently it seems that on one hand SPDC is combating the menace of drug trafficking in the region but the evidence shows rather the SPDC’s deep rooted involvement in the drug trade too. Through its numerous ceasefire agreements the SPDC has allowed ethnic armies such as the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the United Democratic Alliance Army (UDAA) to carry on trade on narcotics.[xxxviii] Evidence exists that the UWSA is being used by the SPDC to carry war against diminishing Shan State Army[xxxix] On the other hand we find the since 1999 SPDC initiated its15 year Narcotics Eradication programme to meet the dead line of ASEAN drug free zone by 2015.[xl] But this drug eradication programme does not include eradication of amphetamine production. (xIi) This is one of the drawbacks of the programme. NGOs like Population Services International have come forward to spread condom education programme to protect themselves from the AIDS menace.[xlii]It is extremely difficult to work with such programme in a military state like Burma where ruling State Peace and Development Council does not provide encouragement towards sex education. For example, one of the Burmese actress Shwe Zen Twaik faced obstacles in her effort to combat AIDS and HIV in the country since her campaign did not get the entry in the state owned television. As a result she had to abandon the concerned programme.[xliii]

This is the horrible picture of Burma which is threatening security of the entire region. The Burmese people should be given proper education to make them aware of the worst outcome of the poppy cultivation, amphetamine production, and sex industry. The restoration of democracy in Burma is the urgent necessity and should be the first step to enlighten the people of Burma. But as long as the SPDC is in power to such enlightenment is not possible in Burma since the SPDC is one of the motivating sources for poppy cultivation, drug business behind the curtain of state owned drug eradication progamme. As long as the ruling junta would be in power the ASEAN dream of creation of a drug free zone would remain a distant dream.

(Ms. Paramita Das is presently affiliated as a Senior Research Scholar at the Southeast Asian & South-West Pacific Studies Division, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and working as a Lecturer in the Department of History, TDB College, Raniganj, University of Burdwan, West Bengal, India)


ENDNOTES:

 

[i] Arnott, David : China-Burma Relations, Challenges to Democratization in Burma, edited by Aung Zaw, IDEA, 2000 http://www.idea.int/asia_pacific/burma/upload/chap3.pdf

[ii] Black, Michael,: On Myanmar-China Border, Tensions Escalate Between SPDC, Narco-Militias, World Politics Watch, December 13,2006

[iii] Shan Drug Watch, June 2007, Issue I, pg.03

[iv] Stobdan, P., China’s Forays into Burma: Implications for India, Strategic Analysis, Vol 16, No.01, April 1993, p.25

[v] Ibid

[vi] Burma Issues and Concerns: The Security Dimensions,Vol. 4, April 2007, Burma, p.08

[vii] Nishit, Border Affairs,Vol.07, No.01, October-December 2005.pg.26

[viii] Ibid

[ix] Beyrer,C.,Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV), infection rate and heroine trafficking fearful symmetries, Offprint fromBulletin on Narcotics No. LIV, Nos. 1 and 2, 2002, p. 107

[x] Singh, Swaran,: The Sinicization of Myanmar and its Implications for India, Issues and Studies:33, No.1,January 1997, p.122

[xi] Burma Issues and Concerns: The Security Dimensions, Vol. 4, April 2007, p.06

[xii] Ibid, p.07

[xiii] Ibid, p.08

[xiv] Ibid, p.08

[xv] Nishit, : How Drugs are brought and sold in India, Border Affairs, October-December 2005, Vol.07, No.01, pg. 28

[xvi] Third Session of the 24th Meeting of Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies of Asia and Pacific Region, November 16, 2000

[xvii] Burma Issues and Concerns: The Security Dimensions,Vol. 4, April 2007,pg.11

[xviii] Burma Issues and Concerns: The Security Dimensions,Vol. 4, April 2007,pg.11

[xix] Beyrer,C.,Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV), infection rate and heroine trafficking fearful symmetries, Offprint fromBulletin on Narcotics No. LIV, Nos. 1 and 2, 2002, p. 104

[xx] Feingold, David A., Sex, Drugs and the IMF: Some Implications of ‘Structural Readjustment’ for the Trade in Heroin, Girls and Women in the Upper Mekong Region, New Cargo: The Global Business of Trafficking in Women”, a special issue of Refuge, Vol. 17, No.05, 1998, November, p.03

[xxi] Burma Issues and Concerns: The Security Dimensions,Vol 4, April,2007,p.12

[xxii] Ibid

[xxiii] Breyer ,C.,Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV), infection rate and heroine trafficking fearful

symmetries, Offprint fromBulletin on Narcotics No. LIV, Nos. 1 and 2, 2002, p.105

[xxiv] Ibid

[xxv] Ibid

[xxvi] Burma Issues and Concerns: The Security Dimensions,Vol 4, April,2007, p.14

[xxvii] Ghoshal, Baladas, Trends in China-Burma Relations, China Report 30:2, 1994, Sage Publications, new Delhi, p.200-201

[xxviii] Arnott, David, China-Burma Relations, Challenges to Democratization in Burma edited by Aung Zaw, IDEA, 2000, ://www.idea.int/asia_pacific/burma/upload/chap3.pdf

[xxix] Shan Drug Watch, June 2007, issue 01, p.03

[xxx] China, Myanmar sign border security accord, Agence Frnace-Presse-December 05, 2004
http://www.aegis.com/news/afp/2004/AF041245.html
)

[xxxi] Zhuqing, Jiang, Joint Action Helps Bust Cross Border Drug Ring, China Daily, October 19, 2005, Hong Kong

[xxxii] Zhuqing, Jiang, China, ASEAN step up war against drugs,China Daily, October 21, 2005

[xxxiii] mrtv3.net.mm/news/2310press.html

[xxxiv] Burma Issues and Concerns: The Security Dimensions, Vol. 04, April 2007, p.11

[xxxv] Ibid

[xxxvi] Shan Drug Watch, June 2007, Issue I,p.15

[xxxvii] Ibid

[xxxviii] Burma Issues and Concerns: The Security Dimensions, Vol. 04, April 2007, p.16

[xxxix] Ibid

[xl] Ibid

[xli] Ibid

[xlii] Selling Safer Sex in Conservative Burma, Aung Htet, September 1, 2007 http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=8461

[xliii] http://him.civiblog.org/blog/_archives/2007/8/16/3161290.html)

(THE END)

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