The recent tension between the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the Burmese military Government has led to speculation about a renewal of the armed conflict. Tom Kramer examines the two decades of cease fire.
The assumption that reducing opium production would lead to less drug use has been proven wrong. It has instead contributed to a pattern of an increased use of stronger drugs and more harmful patterns of use.
Opium production in the Golden Triangle has decreased significantly over the past decade. But the rapid decline has caused major suffering among former poppy-growing communities in Burma and Laos, making it difficult to characterise developments as a "success story".
Burma/Myanmar is undergoing yet another humanitarian crisis while entering a new critical political stage. In the Kokang region, an opium ban was enforced in 2003, and since mid-2005 no more poppy growing has been allowed in the Wa region. Banning opium in these Shan State regions where most of the Burmese opiates were produced, adds another chapter to the long and dramatic history of drugs, conflict and human suffering.