Executions, drug destruction mark Anti-Drugs Day in Asia

Agence France Presse

Beijing, June 26:

On International Anti-Drug Day today, Asian officials from Beijing to Yangon marked their fight against an ancient scourge with a desperate mixture of executions and immolation of confiscated narcotics.

China, which executes far more people than the rest of the world combined, underlined its tough, no-nonsense stance by reporting the execution of a series of criminals for drug crimes. In the southern city of Guizhou, 24 traffickers were convicted this weekend, five of them receiving the ultimate penalty followed by immediate execution, the China Youth Daily said. They were just part of what, based on official media reports, appeared to be dozens executed in China in recent days to warn others against engaging in drug crime. But in a sign of growing concern about the price China’s legal system pays for the war on drugs, some scholars have started questioning the way justice is meted out. In particular, they criticize the system of “education through labour” under which minor criminals can be locked up for up to three years without ever seeing a judge, according to the Beijing News.

Afghanistan said today it has mounted a serious campaign to tackle its booming narcotics trade and punish traffickers.

As officials torched 30 tons of drugs, counter-narcotics minister Habibullah Qaderi said the country was beginning to turn the tide against drugs and expected a significant reduction in the planting of poppies for opium.

Myanmar, the world’s second-largest opium producer, today burned more than $328 million worth of illicit drugs to showcase its counter-narcotics efforts. An estimated 260,000 households, or more than 1.2 million people, are involved in opium cultivation in Myanmar, the vast majority in Shan state which borders China.

In Vietnam, which has some of the world’s toughest drug laws, police have cracked down on bars and karaoke establishments where youngsters gathered to dance and allegedly use ecstacy pills. Most of those arrested in this campaign, which has taken place in recent months, came from affluent families. Many were the children of high-ranking communist party officials.

Authorities in southern Pakistan set fire to more than 26 tons of illegal narcotics seized by

coast guards over the past year, an official said. At a beach in Karachi, coast guards torched plastic bags they said contained six tons of hashish, 18 kg of heroin and 13 tons of dried opium poppies.