The strategy of Asean's 10 member countries to become "drug free" by 2015 is failing dramatically. In the last decade, opium cultivation in the region has doubled, drug use -- especially of methamphetamines, a powerful synthetic stimulant -- has increased significantly, and there remain strong links between drugs, conflict, crime and corruption.
Bouncing Back - Relapse in the Golden Triangle, a new in-depth report by the Transnational Institute (TNI) launched in Yangon, Burma/Myanmar, on Monday June 2, highlights the profound changes in the illicit drugs market in the Golden Triangle – Burma, Thailand and Laos – and neighbouring India and China over the past five years.
TNI's indepth examination of the illegal drug market in the Golden Triangle, which has a witnessed a doubling of opium production, growing prison populations and repression of small-scale farmers. This report details the failure of ASEAN's 'drug free' strategy and the need for a new approach.
The phrase “land grab” has become common in Myanmar, often making front page news. This reflects the more open political space available to talk about injustices, as well as the escalating severity and degree of land dispossession under the new government.
The 2014 Population and Housing Census is the most significant ethnic and political boundary-making exercise since 1931, however its colonial-era designations and simplifications are likely to raise ethnic tensions at a critical time in the peace process.
Tom Kramer, a researcher based in Myanmar will discuss the development of the peace process, the obstacles to the national reconciliation and how the success/failure will affect the reform and the 2015 elections. Yun Sun, Fellow at Stimson Center, will focus on the Kachin conflict and the interest groups that undermine the prospect of peace. In particular, she will present findings on the U.S.-China competition in the Kachin issue from her recent trips to the Kachin state.
Hopes remain that, through political negotiation, democratic reforms will be achieved which lead to just and inclusive solutions. But as the countdown to the 2015 general election begins, concerns are growing that essential reforms will not be delivered.
In July the First Southeast Asia Opium Farmers Forum was held, bringing together some 30 representatives of local communities involved in opium cultivation and local community workers from the major opium growing regions in Southeast Asia.