In what has become a macabre
annual ritual, China marked the United Nations' International Day Against
Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking Sunday by ordering the execution of
at least 24 people for drug crimes in one city alone, with five of them
meeting their fates immediately, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, according
to the official Chinese news agency Xinhua, more than 10,000 people marched
from Beijing's Summer Palace, a symbol of China's defeat in the 19th Century's
Opium Wars, to raise awareness of the drug threat.
The UN's 18th annual anti-drug
day was, however, marked primarily by bonfires of confiscated drugs.
In Afghanistan, authorities in Kabul set up a massive blaze with 13 tons
of confiscated opium, nine tons of hashish, two tons of heroin, and six
tons of "other narcotics," Reuters reported. The air was also filled
with fragrant smoke in neighboring Pakistan, where authorities in Karachi
torched another 20 tons of drugs seized in its territorial waters.
In a statement commemorating
anti-drug day, UN Secretary General warned that drug use was "little more
than a ticket to a dead end."
In Vietnam, things were a
bit more laid back. In a nation with 170,000 drug addicts and 94,000
HIV-infected people, 70% of them linked to injecting drugs, authorities
took a more positive tack. Instead of announcing arrests or burning
contraband, they held a meeting entitled "Let's Live a Healthy Life," the
Vietnam News Agency reported.
Across Asia, the international
day against drugs spawned newspaper articles and editorials exhorting drug
users to change their ways, but the task is huge. According to the
UN Office on Drugs and Crime in a report released this week, the number
of drug users worldwide stands at 200 million, or 5% of the adult population.
No need to worry about canceling next year's events for lack of interest
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