Southeast Asia

Philippines: military camps for drug users?

Posted on August 4th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

South East AsiaIn his increasingly draconian anti-drug crackdown, the new Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, actually sent National Police troops to arrest a local mayor—resulting in a shoot-out that left six of the mayor's bodyguards dead. On Aug. 1, Duterte ordered Mayor Rolando Espinosa of Albuera town on Leyte to island to surrender within 24 hours—and added: "Otherwise, an order of 'shoot on sight' will be given if they resist and endanger the lives of arresting police officers." Espinosa surrendered to police the next day—but his son, wanted as a suspected drug-dealer, remained at large. The day after that, the gun-fight broke out between the body-guards and police who were on patrol near Espinosa's house. Police of course said the body-guards fired first. The affair began July 28, when five other of Espinosa's body-guards and staff were busted in a sting operation for a street sale of shabu (methamphetamine).

Indonesia executes four drug convicts

Posted on August 1st, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

South East Asia Indonesia carried out its first executions in over a year on July 29, sending four drug convicts to a firing squad at the special island prison of Nusa Kambangan. The executions of the four—two Nigerians, one Senegalese and one Indonesian—came despite diplomatic pressure and international condemnation. As many as 10 other people await execution in Indonesia—including foreign nationals, and almost entirely on drug-related charges. Campaigners are still trying to win clemency for Zulfiqar Ali, a Pakistani man who "confessed" to heroin possession after being brutally beaten by police, and Merri Utami, an Indonesian woman arrested with heroin in her bag at Jakarta's airport after being tricked into becoming a drug mule. Their executions are believed to be imminent.

Philippines prez urges citizens to kill 'drug addicts'

Posted on July 5th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

South East AsiaRodrigo Duterte was sworn in as president of the Philippines on June 30, and wasted no time in launching a foul-mouthed tirade threatening to unleash a reign of terror against drug users. After a staid inaugural speech at the presidential palace, he made a visit to a poor district of Manila where he expounded on his real agenda—and even called upon citizens to take the law into their own hands and kill "drug addicts." AFP news service noted this line from his profanity-laden harange before a crowd of some 500: "These sons of whores are destroying our children. I warn you, don't go into that, even if you're a policeman, because I will really kill you. If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful."

Burmese opium farmers protest eradication

Posted on May 20th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

South East AsiaThe White House has announced a partial lifting of sanctions on Burma in recognition of progress in its democratic transition. Restrictions are to be dropped on state-owned banks and businesses, although some 100 companies and individuals linked to the armed forces will remain iced. This relaxation comes at the request of longtime democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi, who although barred from holding the presidency is effectively the country’s leader following November's elections. But human rights concerns remain—especially around the fate of the Rohingya Muslims, persecuted and made stateless by the military junta that has now (mostly) surrendered power. And the multiple ethnic insurgencies in Burma's opium-producing northern mountains, while receiving less world media attention lately, continue to vex the country.

Anti-drug death-squad boss elected president of Philippines?

Posted on May 10th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

South East AsiaPresidential election results in the Philippines came in May 10, and the bombastic anti-crime hardliner Rodrigo Duterte appears to be the winner. The victory isn't official yet, but ruling-party candidate Mar Roxas has already conceded defeat. Duterte is the mayor of Davao City in the conflicted southern island of Mindanao—which has been hit by a wave of death-squad terror in recent years. The paramilitaries are ostensibly a response to crime and narco networks on the island, but ecology activists and peasant leaders have also been targeted. Duterte has been named as a mastermind of the paramilitaries, and certainly makes no bones about his intolerant position on drug use. "All of you who are into drugs, you sons of bitches, I will really kill you," he Duterte told a huge cheering crowd in his final campaign rally in Manila. "I have no patience, I have no middle ground, either you kill me or I will kill you idiots."

Anti-drug vigilantes heat up Burma's opium zone

Posted on March 1st, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

South East AsiaWith the harvest season just weeks away, tensions are high in Burma's opium-producing Kachin state following a series of clashes between opium-growing peasants and a local citizen anti-drug movement. Pat Jasan, a patrol established two years ago by the Kachin Baptist Church, has been in repeated confrontations over the past weeks at Kachin's Waingmaw township. The most recent, on Feb. 25, resulted in at least 20 Pat Jasan followers wounded in gunfire and grenade blasts. The vigilantes were apparently set upon by a heavily-armed force while clearing poppy fields.

Burma: will ceasefire wind down opium war?

Posted on October 18th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

South East AsiaBurma's President Thein Sein signed a ceasefire Oct. 15 with eight armed rebel groups, in a bid to bring the country's multiple ethnic insurgencies to an end before next month's general elections—the first since a nominally civilian government took over and pledged a democratic transition in 2011 after decades of dictatorship. The agreement seeks to incorporate rebel groups into the political process, ending a war that has persisted (with varying levels of intensity) since Burmese independence in 1948. But while the pact is optimistically dubbed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), seven armed groups involved in the peace talks did not sign the final deal. Among the seven non-signatories is the largest rebel army, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), with an estimated 25,000 fighters. Trying to put a good face on things, Thein Sein said , "history will judge the value of the NCA not by the number of signatories but how the terms of the NCA are effectively implemented." Also not signing on are the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Kokang armed factions along the Chinese border. One of the most significant groups signing on to the deal, the Karen National Union (KNU), actually entered a bilateral ceasefire with the government in 2012.

Torture on Indonesia's death row

Posted on October 18th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

South East AsiaAmnesty International on Oct. 15 released a report finding that Death Row inmates in Indonesia are routinely beaten and coerced into confessions, and denied the right to counsel. President Joko Widodo's government has executed 14 prisoners since  he took office in October 2014—all for drug charges. According to the report, dubbed "Flawed Justice," in half of the 12 cases Amnesty analyzed, prisoners said their "confessions" were extracted by torture. One Pakistani man, Zulfiqar Ali, was held incommunicado at a private house for three days as police brutalized him. He was beaten so badly he required kidney and stomach surgery—but his confession was still used against him in court. No other independent investigation into the heroin charge against him was carried out. Amnesty is urging Indonesia to instate a moratorium on the death penalty and create an independent body to review Death Row cases.

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