Burmese junta disrupts KIO’s drug eradication mission

Obstacles are being placed to stop the drug eradication mission launched by the Kachin ethnic group, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) by the Burmese junta, said a KIO official.

Burmese Army in Northern Regional Command (Ma-Pa-Kha) warned the KIO on January 30 to stop the drug eradication programme, begun on October 1, 2010 in areas controlled by former New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K), the armed group which transformed into the Border Guard Force (BGF) under the junta’s control in 2009.

“They (junta) made it clear that we are not to carry out the programme in BGF controlled areas or else they will take severe action,” Naw Bu the spokesman of KIO’s Central Drug Eradication Committee (DEC) told Thailand-based Kachin News Group.
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He said, the junta was not allowing the porogramme in BGF controlled areas and accused KIO of illegally assembling heads of villages and recruiting people.

“It is obvious that the junta’s policy is to see to the wasting away of Kachin people by using drugs as a weapon,” said Naw Bu. However KIO has no intention of stopping its programme, he said.

Since the start of the eradication programme KIO has able to come down heavily on production on at least 6000 acres of opium fields in Sadung Township under its controlled areas, he added.

Though KIO started working on the drug eradication mission in its areas of control in Kachin State and in Northern Shan State, it is facing a big challenge working in areas under the Burmese regime, KIO’s spokesman Naw Bu said.

He said it is a four-step drug eradication programme. First it will dissuade KIO members and then, civilians living in KIO controlled areas, all places in KIO areas and then finally to the whole of Kachin State.

More support is needed from civilians as well as Non Government Organizations (NGOs), INGOs and the rest of the world for the successful implementation of the mission.

“We will work in tandem with any organization and any government, which believes in our policy of drug eradication,” said Naw Bu.

A local source, Seng Awng, who recently visited Laiza headquarters of the KIO, told KNG that the situation in the township has changed with drug trading stopped and addicts abstaining.

“It has changed and I didn’t see drug users like every day in the past,” said Seng Awng.

He said drug smuggling and addiction is becoming the biggest problem in Kachin State. Now it is almost under control in KIO controlled areas but continues unabated in other parts of Kachin State.

“If drug smuggling is not stopped, more people in the state will become drug addicts,” said Seng Awng.

He said, most of drugs such amphetamine and heroin continue to come to Kachin State from Shan State and China.  

“The success of the mission depends mainly on civilian support,” said Naw Bu.

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