Local authorities told to destroy poppy cultivation collect tax
Complying to orders from Naypyitaw to eradicate cultivation, local authorities in southern Shan State have been destroying some of the poppy fields, but still taxing the farmers, according to reliable sources.
4 February 2009
Only last month, Kunhing based Infantry Battalion (IB) # 296 had collected 90 bags of rice (1 bag = 50kg) from villagers in Fanglang village tract as poppy tax, said a source.
Current rice prices are Kyat 24,000 (USD 22.85) per bag in Taunggyi, capital of Shan State.
“That is why we are growing opium. Only we grow it we can feed both them [Burma Army units] and ourselves,” said a local villager.
Likewise farmers in Namlin, Nam Maw Ngeun and Pang Nga villages in the same township were told to pay poppy tax Kyat 200,000 (USD190) to Captain Win Ko Ko from Nam Maw Ngeun based- Light Infantry Battalion(LIB) #524 by 26 January, said a farmer.
“They [authorities] said if we don’t pay them, they will destroy our farms,” he added.
Other villagers from Kenglom and Wanlong village tracts were ordered to pay by 27 January to Captain Thet Naing Soe from LIB #524. Each village had to pay at least Kyat 100,000 (US$95), said a local trader.
Similarly, junta authorities from Namzang based Infantry Battalion (IB) # 66 at least once a month come to collect tax from villagers and also took their livestock for their supplies, said the source.