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Three parties call for a drug-free Kachin State

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Three political parties that contested in the recent general election have urged the Kachin State government to make the elimination of drug abuse and drug production in the state a top priority.

The National Unity Party (NUP) in Kachin State is one of three parties calling on the state government to stem the use and production of drugs in the state. In this file photo,  NUP chairman Tun Yi enters party headquarters on University Road in Rangoon to preside over celebrations to mark the 22nd anniversary of the party on September 24, 2010.  Photo: MizzimaSaying drug abuse is rampant among young people, the National Unity Party (NUP), the Democracy Party Kachin State (DPKS) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) all urged state government to create more job opportunites so people don’t turn to drugs.

‘The people in Kachin State especially youth are getting involved in the drug business, and we need to create job opportunities for them to put them on right track’, Kachin State cabinet minister and NUP spokesman Han Shwe told Mizzima.

Previously, the military regime did not take effective action to stem drug production and drug abuse in Kachin State which resulted in increasing numbers of drug users and drug producers, said Bauk Jar, a NDF candidate in the Phakant constituency.

‘The Chinese at the Myitsone Dam project brought in their narcotic drugs in different size bags’, she said. ‘There was no one to arrest them. The chairmen (local administrators) took bribes and levied taxes on the traffickers who openly traded  drugs on the streets. They even gave the drug to first-time users free to taste the drug. Kachin State is the worst place among other states in this regard’, she said.

State-run daily newspapers reported on March 7 that more than 400 acres of poppy fields were destroyed in Waingmaw, Phakant and Tanai townships from February 21 to 27.

However, supporting the charges of increased drug production, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released a World Drug Report for 2010 which said that poppy acreage in Burma has increased by 20 percent and now produces more than 580 tons of opium.

According to the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), it is working to destroy poppy fields in the state, but its drug eradication campaign is being harassed and obstructed by the military regime. The KIO said it arrested more than 1,000 drug users and treated their addiction in February of this year.

Bauk Jar said that in addition to the drug issue, the state government should try to reverse the forced seizure of farmland from local people by private companies and the army.

Bauk Ja said 148 local farmers have filed suits against the Yuzana Company which has seized more than 1,000 acres of their farmland in five villages. The Yuzana Company and the army has sized land for growing sugarcane and tapioca, accounting for a total of about 400,000 acres, she said.

Bauk Ja also said that people are skeptic about the performance of the new state government because it is led by members of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which is a state-backed party.

Party officials also said that building peace between the new government and armed groups in Kachin State is probably the most pressing issue, one that will affect all the other problems of the state.

The nine-member Kachin State cabinet is led by Chief Minister Lajun Ngum Sai; Kaman Nu Daw of the NUP is Communication and Transport Minister; Ah Lay Pa of the  DPKS is City Development Minister; and the remaining seven ministers are from the USDP. In the 51-member state legislative assembly, 13 are military-appointed legislators, 10 are from the NUP and three are from the  DPKS.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 April 2011 08:52 )  

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