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Executions Mark Anti-Drug Rallies in China

June 27, 2002|From Times Wire Services

SHANGHAI -- China marked International Day Against Drug Abuse by executing 64 people accused of drug crimes, officials and state media said Wednesday. Other nations staged anti-drug rallies and burned piles of confiscated narcotics.

Many of the Chinese executions came immediately after public rallies at which thousands watched as judges condemned the accused and authorities burned piles of seized heroin, Ecstasy and other drugs.

China usually marks the day with a wave of publicized executions, underscoring authorities' belief that harsh punishments are an effective weapon against drugs. United Nations officials have said they do not condone the practice.

Meanwhile, in Myanmar, the military government torched a pile of seized drugs and insisted that it was committed to fighting narcotics, despite international accusations that the junta profits from the drug trade. At a ceremony in Yangon, the capital, authorities set ablaze more than 3 tons of opium, 530 pounds of heroin and nearly 35 million stimulant tablets.

In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai participated in an anti-drug rally at Kabul University.

"Will you fight against drugs?" Karzai asked a group of girls, their heads covered in bright red scarves. "Yes!" they shouted.

"You are our future," Karzai said, speaking from a dais decorated with a map of Afghanistan emblazoned with the words "Wheat instead of drugs." Afghanistan has been a leading producer of opium poppies, which are used to make heroin, and authorities are trying to persuade farmers to plant other crops.

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