Thursday, 14 November 2019

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Burma destroys drugs worth US $ 93 million

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Burmese military regime destroyed Kyat 93 billion (approximately US dollar 93 million) worth of seized drugs in eastern Burma on Tuesday, the state-run media reported.

The New Light of Myanmar, the junta’s mouthpiece, on Wednesday said authorities on December 8, set on fire the seized drugs, chemicals and affiliated paraphernalia, valued at over Kyat 93 billion, at a ‘Destruction Ceremony of Narcotic Drugs’ in Kengtung town in eastern Shan state.

The newspaper said, the illicit drugs, which included more than six million tablets of ATS (Amphetamine-type Stimulant), and over 800 kilograms of heroin, were seized since June 26, till date.

Burma, which the UN ranks as the second highest opium producer after Afghanistan in the world, claims that it has been implementing a drug elimination programme since 1999, and the seized drugs were part of it.

The ceremony attended by the Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win, the Police Chief Brig-Gen Khin Yi, UN’s representatives and Rangoon-based foreign diplomats, saw the destruction of the illicit drugs.

“As the programme has now reached the fag end of the second five-year phase of its duration, our quest to eradicate narcotic drugs can be said to have had considerable achievement,” Burma’s Police Chief Brig-Gen Khin Yi, who is also the Secretary of the Central Committee of Drug Abuse Control, was quoted as saying.

But Khuensai, Editor of Chiang Mai-based Shan Herald for News Agency (SHAN), who comprehensively monitors drug production and trafficking in eastern Burma, said the Burmese junta had intentionally intensified the drug elimination programme with an aim to attract the attention of the international community.

He said drug elimination had been intensified particularly after the junta’s proposal to ethnic ceasefire armed groups to transform their armies into the Burmese Army-controlled Border Guard Forces.

Groups such as the United Wa State Army (UWSA), whose leaders the United States have indicted for producing and trafficking drugs, the Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), in the mid 1900s announced a halt to the cultivation and production of poppy opium.

But Khuensai said, as these groups had refused to toe the junta’s line on the Border Guard Force issue, the junta is using the drug elimination programme as a tool to eliminate them.

“Now, they [cease-fire groups] have become their enemies. So, in order to eliminate them, the junta keeps shouting from the rooftops about drug eradication programmes,” Khuensai added.

“Actually, if the ruling junta sincerely wanted to eradicate illicit drugs, they could have done so a long time ago,” he said.

According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Rangoon over 90 per cent of opium in Burma are cultivated in the mountainous areas of Shan State.

According to the UN’s figure, the production of opium in Burma reached 1,600 metric tons a year during the late 1980s and 1996 but it had declined since 1996.

In 2005, the area under poppy cultivation stood at 32,800 hectares - a decline of 80 per cent since 1996. The country's potential production of opium for 2005 was 312 metric tonnes – 82 per cent less than in 1996.

Despite UNODC’s figure showing there was a decline in poppy cultivation and production, Khuensai said the people are still growing poppy in several areas of Shan state and Kachin State in northern Burma except Wa, Kokang and Mongla areas in northern Shan state.

Burma is a signatory to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 Vienna Convention against Illicit Trafficking of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

The New Light of Myanmar said on 20 occasions, illicit drug destruction ceremonies were held in Rangoon along with another 47 towns in Burma since 2006. In Kengtung, the destruction ceremony on Tuesday was the fifth such event.

Edited by Mungpi


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