Newsbrief: Iranians Protest US, UK Blind Eye to Afghan Opium Crop 7/9/04

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In belated news of an International Anti-Drug Day action, Reuters reported that Iranian anti-drug police held a public drug burning in Tehran June 26. The pile of cremated dope was topped with a picture of a bat-like monster with blood-red eyes, representing, one supposes, drugs.

Crowds at the event chanted "Death to America" as the drugs burned.

International Anti-Drugs Day activity in Tehran, Iran, 2001
Why? The Iranians are upset that opium production has exploded in neighboring Afghanistan since it became a US protectorate in late 2001. The year before, the then ruling Taliban had barred opium production, sending the size of the crop plummeting toward zero, but since then the crop has expanded dramatically, with the country now responsible to three-quarters of the world's opium production according to United Nations figures.

While British troops put up a token effort at suppressing the trade, US troops have ignored opium and the links between it and key members of the provisional government opium is supporting. Much of that opium and the heroin obtained from it transits Iran on its way to markets in the West, and some of it is falling off the truck en route. As a result, complain the Iranians, the traditional opium-smoking habit has been supplanted by heroin addiction, with 4% of the Iranian population now strung out on Afghani smack.

"We hold America and Britain responsible for this situation... Americans are in charge of Afghanistan's security and Britons are responsible for fighting fight drugs there," said anti-narcotics commander Mehdi Abuee.

Despite interdiction efforts that have included building chains of walls and fortresses across the remote, rugged border and that have cost the lives of more than 3,000 Iranian law enforcement personnel since the birth of the Islamic Republic in 1979, Iranian officials can stop only a small percentage of the cross-border traffick, said Abuee. "Only 10 per cent of poppy farms have been destroyed and of what remains, 4,100 tons of opium will be produced this season," Abuee added.

Ali Hashemi, head of the presidential anti-drug office, agreed, saying that the three tons of refined heroin and 111 tons of opium seized last year was probably only about 10% of the total. Iranians are asking why Afghanistan and its Western sponsors don't do more to suppress the trade, he said.

"Apart from the 4% of Iran's population who are addicts, the rest ask why the Western powers are not using the new opportunity in Afghanistan to put an end to the drugs problem in the world," Hashemi said.

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Issue #345, 7/9/04 Editorial: Time for Congress to Get Real | In the Wake of Blakely: Federal Sentencing Chaos as Defense Attorneys, Prosecutors, Lawmakers Ponder How to Respond | House Votes Down Medical Marijuana Bill -- Election Year Politics, Organized Opposition Cited | International AIDS Conference Puts Focus on Thai War on Drugs | Making it Official: More Initiatives Move Toward November Ballot | ALERT: "Thank or Spank" Your Congressman for This Week's Medical Marijuana Vote | Newsbrief: Rep. Ron Paul Brings Pain Doctor Prosecution Issue to House | Newsbrief: US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Rejects DEA Motion for New Hemp Hearing | Newsbrief: Kansas Supreme Court Says Cut Methamphetamine Sentences | Newsbrief: Tommy Chong Walks Out of Prison | Newsbrief: Iranians Protest US, UK Blind Eye to Afghan Opium Crop | Newsbrief: United Arab Emirates Ponders First Step Toward Harm Reduction | Newsbrief: Head of National Drug Intelligence Center Fired | Newsbrief: Prohibition as a Marketing Tool -- Camel Ad Campaign Touts "Forbidden Fruit" Appeal | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: California Prisons "Dysfunctional," State Report Concludes | Movie Opening: Maria Full of Grace | Media Scan: New CSDP Ad -- Richard Paey and Rush Limbaugh | This Week in History | Psilocybin Cancer Research Study Still Seeking Participants | The Reformer's Calendar

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