The Golden Triangle – Stairway to Drug Trafficking in Southeast Asia
The Golden Triangle, a safe passage for drug trafficking in southeast asia , is the region where the boundaries of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar converge at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong rivers. The term “Golden Triangle” is frequently used in a broader sense to refer to a region that spans the mountains of the three neighbouring nations and is roughly 950,000 square kilometres (367,000 sq mi) in size.
Since the 1950s, it has been one of the world’s main opium-producing regions, along with Afghanistan in the Golden Crescent. Until the early years of the twenty-first century, the Golden Triangle was the primary source of heroin production in the globe. Today, Myanmar and to a lesser extent Laos are the countries that generate the majority of the opium in the region.
After Afghanistan, Myanmar is the second-largest producer of opium in the world, contributing about 25% of global output and being a member of the Golden Triangle.
Origin: Drug Production in South East Asia
When the Chinese Communist Party took control, they forced ten million addicts into treatment, killed traffickers, and planted new crops in opium-producing areas. Opium production consequently moved towards the Golden Triangle region, south of the Chinese border. Since the Konbaung dynasty around 1750, small-scale opium has been produced in Myanmar, primarily for export.
The Kuomintang in Burma (KMTChinese)’s troops served as the forerunners of the Golden Triangle’s private drug army. The Kuomintang seized control of the border regions in 1949 after hundreds of the defeated Kuomintang troops crossed the border from Yunnan province into Burma, a country with a weak government. The KMT transferred almost all of its opium south to Thailand.
The majority of Burma’s opium was produced in the KMT-controlled territories, and the change in KMT policy gave them more power over the opium trade there. Furthermore, by the early 1950s, Communist China had essentially given the KMT troops in the Shan State the opium monopoly by eliminating illegal opium farming in Yunnan. Local ethnic Chinese people, as well as people in Yunnan, China, and other parts of Southeast Asia, were the main users of the drug. They imposed a high tax on the opium cultivators and forced the nearby peasants to provide them with food, money, and recruits. The farmers were compelled to boost their output as a result in order to survive.
Production and Distribution of Methamphetamine
The greatest methamphetamine production region in the world is thought to be the Golden Triangle, more especially the Shan State of Myanmar. Methamphetamine production in East and Southeast Asia appears to have moved into the lower Mekong region as evidenced by growing signs of an increase in activity within and around the Golden Triangle and a corresponding decline in the number of production facilities demolished in other areas of the region. Over the past ten years, methamphetamine seizures have steadily increased across East and Southeast Asian nations.
Authorities in Myanmar reported Asia’s biggest drug operation in Shan State in April and May 2020. This operation was thought to have involved 193 million methamphetamine tablets, hundreds of kilogrammes of crystal methamphetamine, some heroin, over 162,000 litres and 35.5 tonnes of drug precursors, high-tech production machinery, and numerous staging and storage facilities.
History of Drug Trafficking in Southeast Asia
After Afghanistan, Myanmar is the world’s second-largest producer of illicit opium, and since World War II, it has played a vital role in the global drug trade. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that opium was grown on 430 square kilometres (167 square miles) of land in Myanmar in 2005.
Yangon celebrated the capture of drug kingpin KhunSa’s Mong Tai Army in January 1996 as a significant victory in the war on drugs. The overall anti-drug effort is nevertheless hampered by the government’s lack of willingness and capacity to confront significant narcotrafficking organisations as well as its lack of serious commitment to combat money laundering. The majority of the tribes who cultivate the opium poppy in Myanmar and the Thai highlands are subsistence farmers.
As production of crystalline methamphetamine and Yaba tablets has increased, including for export to Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of East and Southeast Asia, the Golden Triangle has emerged as one of the world’s top regions for the manufacture of synthetic drugs, particularly methamphetamine.
Laos Police Make One of its Biggest Busts, Seizing Meth Pills
Authorities in Laos have made the third-largest methamphetamine haul they have ever made, seizing 33 million tablets and 500 kilogrammes (1,100 pounds) of crystal meth. The massive bust followed the discovery of 200,000 tablets in a truck that was halted at a checkpoint in the Bokeo province in the northwest. That deed made a trafficking organisation and its schemes known, which led to the much larger seizure once the driver was questioned.
The vehicle was halted close to the Kings Roman Casino, which is situated in a Laos special economic zone that runs essentially independently of the country’s laws. Such areas can be found in the close-by Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia, all of which have lax law enforcement and have experienced problems with organised crime.
When police in the same region of Bokeo confiscated more than 55.6 million meth pills in a single raid, coupled with roughly 1,500 kilogrammes (3,300 pounds) of crystal meth, it was Laos’ largest narcotics seizure and one of Asia’s largest as well. Bokeo was the site of the second-largest meth pill seizure in the nation, which occurred in January. Methamphetamine is simple to create, and it has replaced opium and heroin as the main illegal substance consumed and exported throughout Southeast Asia. The Golden Triangle region, where the borders of Myanmar, the primary producer of methamphetamine, Laos, and Thailand meet, was historically a significant opium production region and housed many of the labs that turned it into heroin.
Years of political unrest have essentially rendered Myanmar’s frontier regions lawless, leaving them open to exploitation by traffickers and makers of illegal drugs. Bokeo, which has borders with both Myanmar and Thailand and is traversed by the Mekong River, serves as a hub for the drug trafficking in southeast Asia
What to Anticipate from Twitter Going Forward Now that Elon Musk is in Charge
Elon Musk now formally owns Twitter, which may have been one of the most dramatic, turbulent, and complicated purchases in corporate history. The $44 billion acquisition appears to have been finalized, enabling Musk to avoid a legal dispute with the social media juggernaut and meet the deadline set by a Delaware court judge. Parag Agrawal, the CEO of Twitter, Ned Segal, the CFO, and VijayaGadde, a senior legal and policy officer, reportedly left on 22nd October2022. What comes next is the question at hand.
One thing stands out as certain:Twitter, as we know it, is set to undergo significant change. Musk, who prides himself on being an advocate for free speech, has publicly criticized the company’s vetting of violent or bigoted content. As well as some prominent permanent bans being lifted, former President Donald Trump is expected to be allowed back if he decides to rejoin the platform.
Musk hasn’t been very clear about his plans for the dominant social media platform in public, but on Thursday, he claimed that a lot of the rumors about the site’s future were inaccurate.
According to media sources from the last week, Musk has threatened to slash the company’s personnel to zero. According to The Washington Post, Musk wants to reduce the staff by about 75%, from 7,500 to 2,000 and has plans to do so. This might have a significant impact on the organization’s capacity to watch out for child pornography, misinformation, and attempts by foreign operatives to influence free elections and public opinion.
Since taking over as CEO of Twitter a week ago, Elon Musk has implemented a number of changes, including layoffs, $8 for blue tick, content council, advertising, the home page, etc. at the microblogging platform.
Here are a few other changes that we may see:
Lay Offs: CEO ParagAgrawal, CFO Ned Segal, and head of policy and legal affairs VijayaGadde were among the senior executives ousted by Musk. According to internal plans examined by Reuters, layoffs are expected to affect 3,700 employees or almost half the total. Elon Musk, the CEO of Twitter, defended the company’s big layoffs on Friday by claiming that a large number of advertisers withdrew as a result of the company’s 50% staff layoffs. He also claimed that protestors are ‘trying to kill free expression in America.
Dollars 8: Twitter will now charge $8 for tick Blue, which includes lengthier videos and audio posts as well as verification priority in responses, mentions, and search. He has tweeted several times in favor of the most recent initiative to sell blue ticks to those who can buy them. According to him, Twitter will no longer be dependent on advertising thanks to the subscription fee, which will provide it with “a revenue stream to reward content creators.”
Advertisers: Corporate advertisers in large numbers paused their campaigns and separated themselves from Twitter. Among them are General Motors, General Mills, Audi of America, Mondelez International, the manufacturer of Oreos, Pfizer Inc., and Ford. Musk stated that he wanted Twitter to be “the most respected advertising platform” in a message to advertisers.A number of marketers have stopped using Twitter. Since Musk took over Twitter last week and implemented significant changes, including content control, businesses are under increased pressure to determine whether to continue investing in the platform.
Regulation of the content: Elon Musk stated that the organization would create a content monitoring council with “widely different perspectives.” All decisions pertaining to the major material would be made by the council, he had stated, and accounts won’t be reinstated prior to the council’s meeting. According to a series of tweets from the company’s head of safety and integrity, the social media platform’s content moderation tools are still available. Following the billionaire Elon Musk purchase of the business, Yoel Roth, head of safety and integrity, tweeted to reassure customers and advertisers.
Pay Per View: It has been said that Elon Musk is looking at the possibility of letting users publish video content behind a paywall. In other words, Twitter was working on a feature that would allow anyone to submit films and charge others to view them, with the firm collecting a portion of the money. The introduction of edit button:Before he made his offer for the business, Musk was a vocal supporter of the edit button, asking his followers if they agreed. Musk hasn’t talked much lately about the edit button, but it might be one of his first steps given that the firm already unveiled its version of the tool, but only for users who have a $4.99-per-month Twitter Blue subscription. (They did, with 73.6% of the 4.4 million people who voted saying yes.)
Homepage: The CEO of Tesla asked that users who visit Twitter’s homepage while logged out be sent to the Explore page, which displays the most popular tweets and news stories.
Vine Relaunch: On Twitter, Musk posted a poll asking people if they thought Vine should be brought back. Seventy percent of the roughly five million participants replied “yes.” He has given Twitter engineers instructions to begin work on a Vine relaunch that might be completed by year’s end.
Although it is still too early to make a judgment, taking Twitter private might lessen the transparency and scrutiny that inevitably come with being a publicly traded corporation. The veil of secrecy that comes with being a privately held firm as well as the inherent irreplaceability of social media platforms call for a more extensive and complex system of checks and balances, as well as significantly greater openness and accountability.Especially if a conflict of interest is a possibility. Since Musk has referred to himself as an “absolutist” for free speech, the new owner does business with governments all around the world, including those that are hostile to his values. It has both excited and alarmed people about this. There will be close attention paid to his stance on the divisive topics of hate speech and misinformation. It is unarguable that the takeover, which occurs at a time of turbulence when the West is experiencing severe economic distress, a war is still raging in Europe, and an ambitious China is assertively charting its own course, will cause disruption. Nothing could be more at stake.
“Let people eat cake” says Pakistan Navy
In 1789 during yet another famine in France, the princess Marie Antoinette upon being told that the peasants had no bread, is said to have replied with frivolous disregard for the starving peasants with the words “Let them eat cake”. Today, the condition of the Pakistani citizens is quite similar to the French peasants of 1789.
The desperate economic conditions in Pakistan and the impact of floods has led the Finance Ministry to issue directives for implementing strict austerity measures for year 2022 – 2023. These measures aim to curtail operating expenditure and reduce the economic burden of the people.
However, it seems that these directives never reached their Navy.
Very recently, Pakistan Navy Ships Shamsheer and Nasr visited Yokosuka Port in Japan with an aim to participate in the International Fleet Review. In much contrast to the government verdict of “no unnecessary expenditure”, the visit was neither mandatory nor of importance. However much to the citizen’s dismay, neither the empty coffers nor the grave economic situation of the people seemed to deter the Navy from going on a tourism cum shopping spree.
Pakistan Navy Ships visit Yokosuka Port in Japan
In economically stable conditions, a Naval ship’s visit to a foreign port would have been welcomed by the citizens. However the economic burden posed by these activities have quadrupled the fear of a complete breakdown of society. While the cost of fuel for such a long voyage is in itself a huge deterrent, the fact that the ships will be stopping at almost five to seven countries during the futile passage, has made matters worse.
Monetary Implications of this cruise
Let’s look at the basic requirement of a naval voyage. The mandatory requirements include buying stores, fuel/lubricants, undertaking necessary repairs, paying the crew in international currency etc. But is this all? Definitely not. Each stop at a foreign port will require a mandatory interaction with the diplomats, exchange of gifts, parties with great pomp and show to announce the naval ships’ arrival, preparation of native cuisines etc.…The expenditure is definitely mind boggling.
Who is paying for this?
All this is paid through already depleting foreign reserves. Therefore understandably, if news of such frivolous expenditure, especially in these trying times were to reach the general public there would be a furore, and a well justified one. But Pakistan’s Navy has been clever, or at least it thinks it has been.
Where normally, all port visits are turned to a media circus by the Navy, this time not a single press release is available on the open media. Why? Because of a stringent gag order on issuing media bites by the government. The Navy has warned cruising ships to conduct events without the presence of press. The aim apparently is to prevent citizens from becoming aware of this trip to Japan. Pakistan’s naval commanders seem to be relying on their belief (definitely flawed and misguided) that – ordinary Pakistani citizen are like the proverbial ostrich with its head buried in the sand – what it cannot see, does not exist!
In today’s world where information travels faster than light – there are enough people who monitor everything. Which is why hiding the journey of two huge warships was definitely worthless. As soon as a local net-hawker identified the movement of the naval ships – the world and entire Pakistan was made aware of the secret journey. The Maverick could not outfox these people.
Frivolous Spending in Desperate Times
While one may still be able to find an excuse for Navy’s foreign visits, but what about the inflating expenditure on the procurement and projects, which are of no immediate importance? As pointed out by social media users a few days earlier, the Pakistan navy has been planning to procure four Frigates (each from Turkey and China), four to eight Corvettes (from the Netherlands), eight submarines (from China) and almost ten new aircraft for its maritime fleet.
Which brings a very interesting scenario to light – the huge lack of communication between the Pakistan’s government and its navy. On one hand the government has been insisting on cutting down operating costs and even travel/fuel usage by every ministry and service, but on the other, the Armed Forces are on a shopping spree. And whose money are these forces using? The question that the citizens of Pakistan need to ask is despite the mushrooming economic crisis, why is there a need to undertake such frivolous expenditure/cruises? And if they are really necessary, why the extra effort to hide it?
Many Pakistanis have already started asking such questions, a mass outcry is not far. And while the Pak armed forces especially its navy may pretend to be blissfully unaware of their countrymen’s plight, they must realize that secret voyages will not help the deplorable situation of their country and their fellow countrymen.
This article has been contributed by Commander Abhishek Rathi (Retd), Indian Naval Officer
Commander Abhishek Rathi (Retd) is a retired executive officer and holds an experience of commanding two naval warships. He has a keen interest in maritime history and technology. The officer is also an avid nature photographer and likes traveling all across India for it.
Is World on the Verge of the World War 3 ??
The Russia-Ukraine conflict which began in February 2022 is currently ongoing, with Russia occupying 18% of Ukraine’s territory. If Ukraine joins the NATO Forces, then following the ‘ripple effect’, the ongoing bilateral attacks will escalate into something as deadly as World War 3, as is also warned by the Russian officials. Now can we say, is world on the verge of the World War 3?
World War 1 – Summary
It is rightly said that history is the best teacher if you want to take a lesson or two regarding your future decisions. If one turns the pages of history of the time period 1914-1918, one will find that in World War 1, the Austro-Hungarian rule was challenged by Serbia as the Serbians wanted to free themselves from the claws of the incumbent mighty empire. The killing of Archduke Ferdinand, who was the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, by a Serbian nationalist made Austria-Hungary declare war on Serbia. Russia backed Serbia and the ruling empire was backed by the Germans. As things progressed other countries started taking sides and declared their support for either of the two powers. Russia, France, Belgium, and Great Britain were part of the Allied Powers and they fought against the Central Powers which consisted of Germany, the Austria-Hungarian empire, the Ottoman empire, and Bulgaria. The European continent had become a blood-bathed battlefield for the years between 1914 and 1918.
Also Read: Wartime Communications since World War I
Points of commonalities if we compare it with today’s war scenarios
In both cases, the ‘expansionist’ approach is being challenged by a country that is generally considered to be a not-so-powerful state. If one looks from the Russian point of view, they are resisting NATO’s expansion, while Ukraine thinks it is in its best interest to join NATO.
The two segments which can be loosely and broadly classified as the West versus Russia, are backed by some countries indirectly.
The ‘Eurasian’ region in which Russia comes, is often a zone of debate owing to the geographical challenges that still continue to exist.
World War 2 – Summary
The seed of the second World War was sown after the end of World War 1 in the form of the ‘Treaty of Versailles’, which was against Germany’s interest. The rise of Hitler in Germany by stirring the wave of nationalism paved the way for the second war. The invasion of Poland by Germany in 1939 led Great Britain and France to declare war on Germany. In the Pacific region, the USA was fighting against Japanese expansion. The horrific war between the Axis Powers (Germany, Japan, and Italy) and the Allied Powers (US, USSR, and Great Britain) ended in 1945.
Points of commonalities if we compare it with today’s war scenarios
The expansionist approach being challenged
The world is divided into two factions.
Is World on the Verge of the World War 3?
Russia’s ongoing invasion is not militarily challenged by any other country, while the Cold War period saw two superpowers fighting proxy wars with each other which never took the form of a Hot War. The factor of ‘nuclear deterrence’ also prohibits any war to escalate to the scale of a World War as it might lead to the end of the world by causing irreparable damage to life and our surroundings. The last two world wars were fought when the media was in a burgeoning stage but the expansion of media today and the increased participation of people via media builds a public narrative that restricts the ruling government to take harsh measures like going to war. After the havoc created by the two-atom bomb in 1945, people have learnt how devastating war can be and what is the aftermath suffered by people in the years to come. The back channels of talking and the diplomatic routes have also evolved over the years and the complex interdependence of the countries also minimizes the chances of a world war.
Is World War 3 Coming?
The world today is divided in its approach as it was during the last two world wars. Russia’s call for world war is for the scenario when Ukraine becomes part of NATO, because of Article 5 of NATO which states that any attack on any member of NATO will be responded to by all the members. This may invite all other countries into the conflict zone, even if they have no direct interest in the matters. In a different part of the world, China is regularly indulging in border stand-offs with India and Taiwan and the US response against the Chinese greed, translated into targeting Beijing economically. In the case of Central Asia, the Israel-Iran proxy wars, and Iran’s relationship with the US also point to the fact that there is chaos in almost all parts of the world. The North Korea intermittent missile launch while expanding its range is also heavily criticized by people all over the world.
Also Read: After Russia-Ukraine War
What Countries Will be in World War 3
The new axis, if it is formed, can consist of Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. The other axis can be of the US and other major world powers.
India’s Role in World Wars
When the two world wars were fought, India was under colonial rule. Indians didn’t directly participate in the decision making and the leaders who had some influence over the people supported the British in the war against the Axis powers. India has always called for diplomatic talks and to resist violence in all forms. During the Cold War era, India’s Non-alignment movement was aimed to pacify the situation and not to help any power in the war. India had fought wars in its eastern and western borders, and since the advent of globalization and the coming of more back channels, India always went for diplomatic talks.
In his latest remark, the Prime Minister of India asked the Russian President at the SCO summit, to restrain from the war and said that, “this is not an era of war”.
One only hopes to see peaceful times ahead.
“Women! Life! Freedom!” – Anti-Hijab Protest in Iran
Social media was abuzz with videos of women chopping their hair in Anti-Hijab Protest in Iran. The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini has sparked nationwide protests in what is being termed a revolutionary women’s movement. Women have taken to the streets protesting, burning hijab and chopping their hair off in solidarity to the death of Amini in the custody of “morality police”. The incident comes to light after Iran’s recent change in the hijab and chastity law, that enforces a code of conduct on Iranian women on their clothing, among other things.
What Happened to Mahsa Amini ?
Although Iranian authorities maintain that Amini succumbed to a heart attack, there are reports that suggest that she had been tortured while in police custody. She was accused of violating the “rules” on hijab and was taken into custody for the “improper manner” of wearing a hijab. The anger on the part of the protesting women and women standing in solidarity with these protests is on dictating women’s way of living and on curbing their liberty and freedom. In overcoming fear and taking to the forefronts of these protests against gender apartheid are scores of women challenging those in authority over their rights.
As protests spread, it points toward an important question that was raised during the Beijing Platform for Action (BFfA) adopted as a resolution towards the end of the Fourth World Conference on Women on 15 September 1995. This resolution was a set of principles indicative towards the equality of men and women. It focused on 12 critical areas of focus, with Violence against Women (VAW), one among these. Predating the BPfA, was the 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, which defined violence against women as –
“any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.”
Decades have passed since, despite ratification, the propensity of increasing instances of VAW, restrictive laws binding women and their bodies are modes of establishing control over women and their sexuality since time immemorial. It is to note that women captured in the ‘male gaze’ are incessantly objectified and held accountable for violence perpetrated against them – a straight denial of fundamental rights to women.
This incident sends ripples to another historical event on 13 February, 1986, when Iqbal Bano appeared in front of a crowd of 50,000 audience to perform one of Faiz’s most popular nazm, Hum Dekhenge wearing a black saree. One must think why would this act of performing be a form of protest and be called revolutionary. The answer lies in the Zia-ul Haq’s regime banning of Faiz, his works, the black saree – all flouted by Bano in a single act of defiance.
Women and their clothing are a deeply personal choice, being dictated on what, where, in what measure to cover or to let loose is best left to her discretion.
Also Read: Feminist Movement of 2020
Anti-Hijab Protest in Iran & The Revolutionary Women’s Movement
Although the current movement may appear to be unprecedented, it is actually a part of Iran’s longstanding and deeply ingrained resistance movement by women. The hijab was intended to be legally binding in 1981, which was largely viewed as a punishment for the hundreds of women who took part in the anti-regime demonstrations that preceded the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
To confront the ongoing issue of impunity in Iran, world leaders must support calls at the UN General Assembly for the creation of an independent international investigative and accountability agency. Reports by Amnesty International, and Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Right, Ravina Shamdasani express concerns over the shutdown of telecommunications channels in Iran because of which there is a lack of clarity in ascertaining the gravity of violence being inflicted upon protestors by Iranian forces. While both sources list a number of horrific and verified instances of violation of human rights, it is difficult to put a number of these casualties and arrests. The raging protests in close to 80 countries are filled with the “Jin Jiyan Azadi” (Women Life Freedom) chants on the streets.
Several years before, a popular social media movement where people drew semi-colon symbols and posted their pictures in solidarity with those who have dealt with mental health issues, particularly suicide. It was a representation of a life that could’ve been ended but was chosen not to, instead choosing to struggle despite odds, and taking the life’s narrative in their hands. Women in history written by men are semi-colon in the grand narratives about revolutions and women’s participation in it. Sometimes, at high odds of being written off entirely like a second grade citizen, symbolic of an untimely death of women’s autonomy in these protests. Today what we are witnessing in anti-hijab protest in Iran, are women choosing to move beyond this semi-colon by seizing the narrative and writing their own histories and destinies, to be able to break the shackles of state monopolies. I read somewhere that women are mostly seen as an afterthought of a revolution and rarely as trailblazers, history is on its way of changing course for sure.
Bomb Threat on Delhi Bound Flight From Moscow
On Thursday night security agencies were on alert at Indira Gandhi International airport, after a threatening warning email of having a Bomb on Delhi bound flight from Moscow was received at 11:30 PM, The flight SU232, an Airbus 330 operated by Russian carrier Aeroflot, had landed at Delhi airport on runway 29 around 3.20 am on Friday. A total of 386 passengers and 16 crew members were on the flight.
The security officials came into action and thoroughly checked the airplane after which it was confirmed that it was a hoax bomb threat.
It led to panic at Delhi airport, all the passengers and crew members of the flight were safely deboared. There is a proper security drill that is still being followed, nothing suspicious found so far the officials are searching the location from where the hoax call originated.
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