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Blood, Dreams and GoldThe Changing Face of Burma$
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Richard Cockett

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300204513

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300204513.001.0001

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The catastrophe of drugs

The catastrophe of drugs

The Karen and Shan

(p.131) Chapter Five The catastrophe of drugs
Blood, Dreams and Gold

Richard Cockett

Yale University Press

This chapter illustrates the conflict between the Karen—the largest ethnic group in Burma—and the Burmans themselves in what would become the longest running civil war in history. It shows how the Karen civil war did far more damage to the Karen themselves rather than the early post-independence Burmese state. The war ravaged the once-thriving Karen hill economy, as the Burmese army intended, most evidently in the city of Hpa-An. The main social problem here and throughout the hill areas, as it turns out, is drugs. Furthermore, the chapter explores the Karen's relationship with the Shan—a people who have seen their old kingdom culturally and politically obliterated, only to be divided up into so many narco-statelets pushed up against the Chinese border. The eastern Shan region is now the epicentre of the booming regional production of heroin and methamphetamine, colloquially known as “yaba.”

Keywords:   Karen, Shan, Hpa-An, yaba, heroin, Karen civil war, Karen economy, drugs

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