Fri 29 Jun 2007
Filed under: Drugs,News
Burma’s 15-year narcotics elimination exercise which got off the ground in the 1999-2000 poppy season has so far yielded debatable results,Â despite “clapping and cheering” by the UN Office of Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), according to SHAN’s Drug Watch members in Shan State who turned up on the border.
For one thing, says one, the plan’s Phase One (1999-2004) had targeted 22 townships in Shan State. However, findings by the group reveal that cultivation is still being witnessed in at least 11 townships such as Mongyai, Hsenwi, Tangyan, Kutkhai, Lashio, Namkham town in Northern Shan and Kunhing,Â Faikhun (Pekhon), Mongpan, Mongkeung, Hsihseng town in southernÂ Shan.
In Phase Two (2004-2009), 20 townships (four in Kachin State and 16 in Shan State) are being zeroed in on. Notable success is found in six townships controlled by the Wa, who declared zero production in 2005. However, increased cultivation is in evidence in the adjoining townships, particularly Mongpiang, whose sub-township Markmang had yielded, by conservative calculation, an estimated 3.6 tons during the 2006-07 season.
Meanwhile, according to the Kachin News Group, production has registered an upswing in the four projected townships in Kachin State: Kamaing, Waingmaw, Momauk, and Mohnyin, due to the fact that the State is not the centre of attention. “International focus is on Shan State, not Kachin State,” explains Lahpai Naw Din, the KNG’s editor. “As a result, cultivation has spread to at least two far flung townships: Sumprabum and Putao.”
The ensuing Phase Three (2009-2014) has nine townships (five in Shan, two in Kayah and another two in Chin), totaling 51 townships in all that have been targeted by the military regime. “It may well succeed with active cooperation from local armed groups like Kokang , Wa and Mongla,” said a Drug Watch member. “But the problem is, even in places like Chin State, townships outside the projected areas have been infected by the poppy bug.”
The two townships projected for eradication in Chin State are Falam and Tonzang, but cultivation in Tiddim has been reported by Khonumthung, a news group based in India.
The balloon effect also appears to be taking place outside the four targeted states: Shan, Kachin, Kayah (Karenni) and Chin. Reports filtering in say there is poppy cultivation in Mandalay , Sagaing and Magwe divisions and Arakan State. According to Kaladan Press, it has even crossed the border into Bangladesh ‘s Chittagong Hill Tracts, where the Bangladeshi Army found and destroyed 50 acres of fields in February.