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Akha Human Rights - Akha University
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Problems with the US Drug War Policy
We would like to highlight what we see as specific problems with the US Drug War policy.
The first issue is with national sovereignty. Countries should be allowed to decide what it is that they produce for consumption and export. If any of these items are not wanted by the US, then the US should ban the importation of these items into the US. But the US has no moral right to ban the production of these items in a foreign country. If a country wishes to produce opium, the US has no right to ban or eradicate that opium.
Secondly, in enforcing a ban on opium the US saw to the destruction of the only means of survival for many Akha and other mountain peoples, who were already some of the poorest. It is moronic, to state that the opium was to blame for the poverty. What ever an established economy a people have, it is criminal to come and destroy this economy when in FACT there was no alternative economy in place. The US ignored this.
The destruction of the opium economy when there was in fact no replacement economy meant that thousands of villagers saw their lives radically altered by US policy, and were suddenly without means of income. For already being some of the poorest people, this was catestrophic in that the result was starvation and death. It is estimated that thousands have died, infants, children and the elderly. Not only lacking cash for food, the Akha also lacked money for medication to fight the effects of malaria. None of the policy makers, none of the stooges, had to live in these conditions.
It is not acceptable for US Govt. policy makers and those who carried out the ordering and monitoring of the eradication to claim that they were just doing their job. Hitler was just doing his job, and so were all the people who shoved Jews into ovens. It is not acceptable, it will never be acceptable to force people into starvation and disease.
Neither is it acceptable for the US to claim a lot of propaganda to justify or put polish on policies that created a humanitarian disaster for the Akha. Be it tea, coffee, fruit trees or holy smoke asparagus.
What the US can do is pay for the collection of mortality statistics for all those who had their opium eradicated, and to break down those statistics as to the number of infants and children, the most defenseless of the poor, who died as a result of their policy to kill children in order to protect Americans from the dangers of drugs.
The realities of the thinking of US policy makers, of Embassy staff, is disgraceful beyond the pale, it is un-American, it is inhuman, and it is a violation of the most basic rights of the Akha people.
Copyright 1991 The Akha Heritage Foundation