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Feb 21, 2012


By Andrew R.C. Marshall

TAR PU VILLAGE, Shan State, Myanmar (Reuters) – In Myanmar’s new war on drugs, meet the weapon of mass destruction: the weed-whacker.

Its two-stroke engine spins a metal blade, which is more commonly deployed to tame the suburban gardens of wealthy Westerners. But today, in a remote valley in impoverished Shan State, Myanmar police armed with weed-whackers are advancing through fields of thigh-high poppies, leaving a carpet of stems in their wake.

Feb 20, 2012


By Andrew R.C. Marshall

“When you open the windows for fresh air, flies sometimes get in.” So declared one of Myanmar’s ruling generals after his long-isolated country started welcoming foreign tourists in the late 1990s. The “flies” were undesirables like us, the journalists, who exploited this new openness to enter Myanmar as tourists and buzz around the place.

I recalled the general’s words (which he stole from Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping) while researching a Special Report on Myanmar’s new opium war with photographer Damir Sagolj. We were invited by the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control (CCDAC), Myanmar’s main anti-narcotics taskforce, to witness its opium-eradication efforts and hear an appeal for half a billion dollars to help wean impoverished farmers off poppy-growing.

    • About Andrew

      "I am Southeast Asia Special Correspondent for Reuters and winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting. I have lived in and reported from Asia for 20 years. I am the author of The Trouser People, a political travelogue about Myanmar and football, and co-author of The Cult at the End of the World, about Japan’s Aum Supreme Truth Cult and high-tech terrorism."
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