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KIO says its anti-drug campaign a success in Laiza

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Fewer drugs and addicts on the streets. That the results of the drug rehabilitation campaign conducted by the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) in Laiza in Kachin State, according to a KIO spokesperson.

A file photo of an opium poppy field outside the village of Lowi Soi in the Lwe San Sone Mountains in Burma’s northern Shan State near the Chinese border.  Photo: AFPThe six-month campaign, started in October 2010 and ended in March, has helped many young people stop using and selling drugs, especially around Laiza, the location of  KIO headquarters, according to Captain Naw Bu, a KIO spokesperson for the Drug Rehabilitation Committee.

'The campaign was fruitful in Laiza’, Captain Naw Bu said. ‘We reduced drug addiction by 80 percent in Laiza. Now, it’s hard to see drug addicts here’. 

However, he said the drug campaign was less effective in Kachin State as a whole.

The campaign involved a total of about 1,000 drug users (between age 15 and 40), he said, and currently more than 200 addicts are in the KIO Drug Rehabilitation Centre in Laiza. A total of 127 drug traffickers were punished by the KIO, he said.

Drug traffickers, mostly poor and uneducated, were given educational information and a small fine, Captain Naw Bu said.

He said that during the campaign, more than 8,000 acres of poppy fields were destroyed around Sadone in Waimaw Township. He estimated that there are 20,000 acres of poppy fields in the area around Sadone, Laiza, the Golden Triangle, Hpakant and Tanai.

Currently, the KIO is working to encourage residents to grow substitute crops in the former poppy fields, starting in September. The poppy planting season has now ended. Poppy fields are usually cleared in September every year, planted in November, and harvested in March.

Shortly before the KIO anti-drug campaign was launched, the price of raw opium had doubled around Laiza. Last year, the price of raw opium was 300,000 to 500,000 kyat (US $= 490) per viss (1.6 kg) The current price is about 800,000 kyat. However, the price of opium and ‘yaa ba’ (amphetamine tablets) around Laiza has decreased slightly, according to residents.

On Tuesday, the National Unity Party, the Democracy Party Kachin State and the National Democratic Force all urged the new Kachin State government to focus on eliminating drug abuse and drug production in the state.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 21 April 2011 09:14 )  

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