Southwest Asia: Afghan Eradication Campaign Takes Deadly Turn 5/12/06

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The Afghan government's effort to eradicate opium poppies provoked deadly violence Tuesday as angry farmers clashed with anti-drug agents trying to chop down poppy fields. Two farmers were killed and nine policemen wounded after shooting broke out when farmers in the fields harvesting the poppies confronted the eradicators.

incised papaver specimens (opium poppies)

Afghanistan produces about 90% of the world's opium, from which heroin can be refined. According to the United Nations, the crop brings about $600 million a year to Afghan farmers (and $2.1 billion to smugglers and traffickers), and opium accounts for more than one-third of Afghanistan's Gross National Product. It also provides a living for hundreds of thousands of Afghans and their families.

Under pressure from the West, particularly Britain and the United States, the government of President Hamid Karzai has declared a jihad against opium, but the government's efforts are hampered by its weakness, its infiltration by drug trafficking interests, and its awareness that too aggressive an eradication campaign could benefit a reinvigorated Taliban, which has promised to protect opium farmers in the south. The Karzai government is undertaking only limited eradication efforts and has rejected the use of aerial eradication.

Tuesday's violence, the most serious so far this year, occurred in the province of Sar-i-Pul in the north. "Police faced resistance from armed people among the farmers," provincial police chief General Nadir Fahimi told Reuters. "Two farmers were killed while nine policemen were wounded, three of them critically," he said.

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Issue #435 -- 5/12/06

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Editorial: Another Spectacle of Unreason in the Drug War | Feature: DEA Montreal Confab Greeted by Counter-Conference | Feature: "2020 Group" Begins Building an International Drug Reform Movement | Feature: Marijuana Activists Take to Streets for Annual Global Marijuana March | Offer and Appeal: Important New Legalization Video and Drug War Facts Book Available | Feedback: Do You Read Drug War Chronicle? | This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Politics: Albany DA Ignites Firestorm By Calling Drug War "Lucrative" | Sentencing: New York Assembly Passes Rockefeller Law Reform Bill | Marijuana: In Reversal, Alaska House Passes Recriminalization Bill | South Asia: India Supreme Court Says Time to Prohibit Alcohol | Southwest Asia: Afghan Eradication Campaign Takes Deadly Turn | Web Scan: Buffalo Legalization Talk -- Twice, Flash Animation on Two Years for One Joint, Cannabinoid Chronicles, U-Mass v. DEA, World Prison Populations | Weekly: This Week in History | Job Opportunity: Office Administrator/Book-keeper, MPP, Washington | Part-Time Job Opportunity: Cannabis Action Network, Berkeley, California | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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