Thu 30 Nov 2006
Filed under: Drugs,News
Opium output in northern Shan State has decreased through it has done nothing to reduce the availability or use of drugs there, reports Hawkeye from the border:
“Now we are seeing more women and girls using drugs,” said an NGO worker in the north who dismissed figures given by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) October report as “a gross underestimation.”
According to the report Myanmar Opium Survey 2006, heroin and ATS (yaba) use in northern Shan State is as follows:
* Prevalence rate of heroin usersÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 0.13%
* Prevalence rate of ATSÂ Â Â usersÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 0.06%
“I don’t think they made inquiries inside city limits”, she told S.H.A.N. “The drug market in Muse’s quarters: Zawnzaw, Tawyawd, Wiang Nang etc is such, it is as if they are throwing a party everyday.”
The UNODC report did concede that “the surveyed population.. are all living in rural areas. Both types of abuse are mainly an urban phenomenon.” It did not say why no survey was conducted in the urban areas.
Lawyers also point out that the number of drug cases has also dropped compared to previous years. “In Muse (opposite Ruili) alone, we used to handle at least 200 cases per year,” said a member of the legal profession. “But now the year is almost over and yet there has been less than 40 cases so far.”
The junta may be trying to hoodwink the world that drug production, trade and abuse have been effectively dealt with, but they don’t fool anybody” she added, “except maybe those who want to be fooled.”
Sources say nowadays very few people are taken legal action for involvement in drugs. “They have rather become a sort of vegetable garden for the police where the latter can live off,” said a local resident from Namkham, 19 miles southeast of Muse.
Zau Yam, 36, of Mongwi tract, for instance, has been selling drugs for 5-6 years, but he is said to be “untouchable” as he enjoys “an inside track” with the local law enforcer Police Lt Hla Ngwe. At least one-fourth of his 20-men are said to be hardcore drug addicts. One of them died of overdose on 10 November.
Sources also do not appear to set much store by the ruling military council’s crop substitution program:
In Mawtawng, Tima, Mongyu, Nam Oom, Kho Moong and Nam Hpakka, south of Muse, maize corn has been designated as a replacement crop. “But we are not allowed to sell in Muse, where we can get 7,000 – 7,500 Kyat ($5.4-5.8) per 22 pyi-bag (about 73 liters)”, said a farmer. “The officials at the 105 mile checkpoint instead force us to sell to the Sanchein company at 4,000 – 4,500 Kyat ($3.1-3.5) per bag price.”
The overall situation, concludes a businessman in Muse, is much worse than that described in Hand in Glove, a report by S.H.A.N. which came out last September.
According to Antonio Maria Costa, UNODC chief, war on opium is ‘being won’ in Southeast Asia. (AFP, 16 October 2006)