Embargoed until 26 June 2012
June 26, 2012
Press release by Shan Drug Watch on International Day Against Drug Abuse and Trafficking
New Shan Drug Watch report: political solution needed to end drug scourge in Burma
The Shan Drug Watch 2012 newsletter, released today, poses a grim reminder to dialogue stakeholders in Burma that unless political settlement of long-standing ethnic grievances is reached, the conflict, militarization and lawlessness that foster the drug scourge will inevitably drag on.
Surveys by Shan Drug Watch show that opium production has surged during the 2011-2012 season, even as the Burmese government’s 2014 drug-free deadline approaches. Poppy growing was reported in 49 out of 55 townships in Shan State, although most had been targeted to be drug-free by 2009.
Numerous People’s Militia Forces (PMF), set up by the Burma Army to assist in their operations against rebel forces, have become key players in the drug trade, both heroin and ATS. Yet government complicity in the tangled drug problem is being conveniently ignored by the international community as it embraces Burma’s new administration.
News reports in April 2012 of the arrest of druglord Naw Kham, “Godfather of the Golden Triangle.” glossed over the fact that he built his empire while serving as a Burma Army militia chief in Tachileik. The full resumption of drug traffic along the Mekong since Naw Kham’s arrest highlights the urgent need to address the structural causes of the drug problem, rather than just arrest new scapegoats.
“It’s time to end the vicious cycle of new druglords emerging and being scapegoated over and again. The political root causes of the drug problem must be tackled,” said Khuensai Jaiyen, principal author of the Shan Drug Watch report.
The report describes disturbing levels of drug abuse among communities throughout Shan State, where “ya ba” (methamphetamine) pills are now being openly offered at religious merit-making ceremonies together with tea.
The full report can be viewed on www.panglong.org
Khuensai Jaiyen: +66 81 531 2837