BANGKOK An extraordinary campaign of government-approved killings is under
way in Thailand - a crackdown on drug dealers that has taken as many as
2,000 lives over the past two months, an average of 30 a day.
The death toll - equal to that of the carnage in East Timor in 1999 - has
drawn outrage from local and foreign human rights groups. It seems
particularly shocking in a country where democracy has replaced the coups
and strongman rule of past decades.
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BANGKOK, Feb. 16 - Two weeks: 350 dead. But this is only the beginning of a
crackdown in which Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has vowed to eliminate
Thailand's drug problems, once and for all, within three months.
The police assert that they are responsible for only a dozen of the deaths,
and that all of those were in self-defense.
Human rights advocates say they find it difficult to accept the
government's assertion that all the other killings were the work of drug
dealers determined to eliminate informers.
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Seeking a deterrent to a national plague of drug addiction, Prime Minister
Thaksin Shinawatra suggested that the government might manufacture fake
methamphetamine pills that make people vomit. "I want the public health
ministry to talk to psychiatrists and chemists on whether the government
should produce drugs that give people headaches and nausea," he said.
YANGON, Myanmar - Heave tons of sacks of opium, heroin, marijuana and other
illegal drugs into an outdoor furnace and the result is a tower of black
smoke that rises over this green and rain-washed city for hours.The bonfire
in late June was proof, an official told assembled diplomats, that Myanmar
was waging a heroic war on drugs, "considering that we receive almost zero
assistance from the international community for our efforts."
"We have to believe that they will meet the deadline," said Col. Kyaw
Thein, the top drug enforcement official here. A crackdown on drug
producers and traffickers is one of a set of criteria imposed by the United
States as a requirement for counternarcotics assistance, which would come
mainly in the form of training.
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The military government of the former Burma has rejected an offer of
cease-fire talks with the Shan State Army, an ethnic rebel group, saying it
would accept only surrender. Over the past decade, Myanmar has reached
peace agreements with 17 rebel groups that had been fighting against the
government and against each other for decades in remote jungles. Some
sought separate states, some sought autonomy agreements and some were
occupied primarily with banditry and drug running. The Shan State Army is
one of three sizable groups -- involving the Shan, Karen and Karenni
minorities -- that continue to fight.
The government rejected an American statement listing the country as one of
the world's chief sources of illegal drugs. It said the real culprit is the
United States, which is by far the largest consumer of drugs, creating a
After a steep drop in production in Afghanistan, Myanmar has regained its
position as the world's top producer of opium, according to a United States
government survey. Myanmar, the former Burma, produced an estimated 865
metric tons of opium in 2001, down from 1,085 tons in 2000. But the drop in
Afghanistan was far greater, to 185 tons in 2001, from 3,276 tons in 2000,
before the Taliban government enforced an eradication program.
The government will introduce the death penalty for serious drug offenses
similar to penalties in some other Southeast Asian nations, an official
newspaper reported. Major drug trafficking routes pass through Laos. Seth