Monday, August 11, 2008

Uighuristan, Part 4

In a decade-old report entitled The World Geopolitics of Drugs, 1998/1999 we get a glimpse of a problem which has now engulfed Central Asia, and which is now becoming a major issue throughout the Eurasian landmass, and into Africa and the Americas: heroin and heroin trafficking from Afghanistan and adjacent parts of neighboring countries.

On page 61, the report addresses growing heroin demand in China:

Large Increase in Heroin Demand

In 1999, police and customs seized 2.5 tons of heroin more than in the previous year. The opiate is now used by all social groups throughout the country, but especially in the southern provinces of Yunnan, Guangxi and Guangdong, and in the autonomous Uighur region, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia and Gansu of the northwest. While about 70% of the heroin consumer market is supplied from Yunnan, the rest comes from the Golden Crescent. Well-structured networks acting on behalf of secret societies -- that grew back to prominence during the 1990's -- import the opiate.

Keep in mind that the figure of 70% from Yunnan means that 30% came from the Golden Crescent -- Afghanistan, etc. -- and that these figures are from ten years ago, before the surge in heroin production in Afghanistan. The resulting surge in Afghan heroin meant a surge in quality and availability, as well, and a decline in prices -- all making for a seizure of market share by those who deal Afghan heroin in the worldwide heroin trade.

There are three main types of mafia gangs involved in the marketing of heroin. One is Chinese and operates mainly in southern China. The other two types are made up of ethnic-Huis and Uighurs involved in heroin distribution in Yunnan and the north of China. They supply the towns of Lanzhu in Gansu Province and Tongxin and Weizhu in Ningxia province. The Uighur mafia holds a monopoly over the drug trade in Beijing and Canton. There is a fourth type of network, although it is not as strong. It is made up of Afghan and Pakistani smugglers operating from the Karakorum Pass in Pakistan and the Wajan corridor on the China-Afghanistan border (these latter rarely smuggle more than one kilogram at a time). In 1998 and 1999 several Pakistanis have been executed in Xinjiang Province after being found guilty of drug trafficking.

Huis, like Uighurs, are a Muslim people in the PRC.

It is interesting that ten years ago, the Uighur mafia monopolized the drug trade in the PRC's capital. It is also interesting that even then, there was activity along the Afghanistan border with Afghan and Pakistani traffickers.

Of course, with the spread of heroin, there is also a spread of HIV and AIDS associated with the use of needles, so much so that a report entitled Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection rates and heroin trafficking: fearful symmetries was written, in which the heroin trafficking could be charted by studying the genetic print of the HIV in its associated users in China.

There is currently an AIDS epidemic in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

We now review Tackling China's quiet killer: Feature on the AIDS epidemic in China's Xinjiang province:

First Broadcast 20/05/2007

China's remote north-western province of Xinjiang is a place rarely seen by the outside world.

Foreign media is restricted from reporting freely there, due to sensitivities over the ethnic Uighur people - some of whom the Chinese government accuses of being terrorists fighting for an independent state.

But right now, Xinjiang has a more urgent problem. With its population of 20 million, the region has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in China.

A number of international organisations have teamed up with the regional government to try to reverse the trend.

Our China correspondent, Charlotte Glennie, reports.

Charlotte Glennie, China correspondent: Geographically isolated, culturally unique, Xinjiang is China's last frontier to central Asia. It's the traditional home of the Uighur people, devoted Muslims who descend from the Turks.

Today, they're fighting a desperate battle. Xinjiang is a region being ravaged by HIV/AIDS. There are more than 10,000 registered HIV cases here, and it's estimated the real number of infections could be as many as six times higher.

Dr Mai Mai Ti Ming, director general, Xinjiang Health Bureau (translated): Xinjiang's first HIV/AIDS patient was found in 1995. The 12 years since then, the number of HIV/AIDS patients has increased every year. It's already threatened people's health and life in Xinjiang.

It endangers social progress. It is the biggest public health problem and the biggest social problem.

Charlotte Glennie: Twenty-five-year-old Shmxunir was diagnosed HIV-positive a year ago. Her four-year-old daughter has AIDS.

Shmxunir, HIV sufferer and community educator (translated): I took her to a hospital last October to treat her lung. She was extremely skinny. The doctor told me to take her to another hospital. They couldn't cure her. There was no medicine for children to treat HIV in this area. I was lost and I had no choice. The doctor said they had no choice either.

Charlotte Glennie: Eventually Shmxunir got her daughter the treatment she needed.

"It endangers social progress. It is the biggest public health problem and the biggest social problem."

Shmxunir (translated): When she started taking the medicine, she couldn't stand and couldn't walk. She had to lie in bed and also she couldn't talk. Her situation was not good, but she is gradually recovering.

Charlotte Glennie: Mother and daughter had contracted HIV from Shmxunir's husband, a heroin injector, now dead. Shmxunir says in her home village there's such stigma surrounding AIDS that's she has not told anyone except her mother what her daughter is suffering from.

Shmxunir (translated): I don't think too much about myself, but whenever I think of my daughter, I feel great pain.

Charlotte Glennie: In the far north-west of Xinjiang, the city of Yining has the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS per capita in all China.

Out of a population of 42,000, 5,600 are registered HIV-positive. Most victims are male, aged between 20 and 45. More than 90 per cent of infections were passed on by people sharing needles to inject heroin, which comes from central Asia.

Yining City is just 90 kilometres from Kazakhstan, and the flow of heroin across the border into here is now higher than ever. Xinjiang has become not only a major thoroughfare for drug traffickers, but also a region of massive drug consumption.

The same story could be written about other cities in the region, and has been written about Kashgar.

The heroin isn't just from Afghanistan -- it is from elsewhere in Central Asia, as well.

Many of the people using and abusing heroin here are society's most vulnerable. Poverty-stricken, jobless and often demoralised ethnic Uighurs.

Nine out of 10 of Yining's HIV/AIDS cases are among Uighur people. Large scale government supported migration of Han Chinese people to Xinjiang means indigenous Uighurs are now outnumbered.

Rights groups say Uighurs are subject to brutal civil and political rights violations, and denied access to employment, schooling and government services.

Shmxunir says her husband turned to drugs because of a lack of opportunity.

Although the oil rush has brought an economic rush to the XUAR, not everyone benefits.

It seems ethnic Han Chinese, relocated from elsewhere in the PRC, are the main beneficiaries of the economic upturn.

The Uighur people, it seems, are the targets of other Chinese Communist plans.

From Devastating Blows: Religious Repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang, an April, 2005, Human Rights Watch report:

Documents obtained and interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch reveal a multitiered system of surveillance, control, and suppression of religious activity aimed at Xinjiang’s Uighurs. At its most extreme, peaceful activists who practice their religion in a manner deemed unacceptable by state authorities or Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials are arrested, tortured, and at times executed. The harshest punishments are meted out to those accused of involvement in separatist activity, which is increasingly equated by officials with "terrorism." Because of fears in Beijing of the power of separatist messages, independent religious activity or dissent is at times arbitrarily equated with a breach of state security, a serious crime in China and one that is frequently prosecuted.

Stay tuned to Stop Islamic Conquest as Uighuristan continues!

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