A decade ago, Myanmar seemed on course to wipe out the opium fields and heroin jungle labs along its eastern border, the notorious Golden Triangle. Today, valley after valley in these mist-shrouded mountains is covered with resplendent opium poppies, tended by farmers who perch on steep hillsides to harvest the plant’s sticky, intoxicating sap.
A group of sickle-wielding vigilantes made its way through Myanmar’s northern Kachin State in January and February, clearing poppy fields nearly ready to be harvested in a quest to end production of the illicit drug. The mission turned farmers whose livelihoods were being cut down into angry and, at times, armed adversaries.
“There is no silver bullet,” Tom Kramer, a political scientist for the think tank Transnational Institute (TNI) told TIME. “The root cause is poverty. Access to health, education — if this is not addressed, you will not solve the problem.”
BBC News - By the end of this year Myanmar should have been free of narcotics. Instead, production of opium is soaring and the East Asian country, once part of the fabled Golden Triangle, is the second largest producer in the world. Axel Kronholm investigates why.
Myanmar Times - Repressive drug laws and corruption have contributed to Myanmar’s spiralling narcotics problem, according to advocacy groups, who are calling on the new government to launch a change of policy.
The Fix - The most recent figures, released in 2014 by UNODC, show that poppy cultivation has more than doubled since 2006. A report by the Transnational Institute (TNI) sheds light on the reasons behind this increase.
The steep rise is opium cultivation across Southeast Asia and its associated problems over the past five years is being encouraged by draconian anti-drug policies instituted as part ASEAN's strategy to become "drug-free" by 2015, a non-government organisation says in a new report.
Poppy cultivation has rapidly expanded in the Myanmar and Laos parts of the Golden Triangle, to feed new demands for heroin, chiefly in China, according to a report released Monday.
"After a decade of decline, Southeast Asia is now once again a major opium growing region," it claims.
IRIN - The reasons behind Myanmar’s six decades of ethnic warfare are many and varied, but General “Robert” Ar Nyun can tell you in a word why his group began fighting the government four years ago: drugs.