Drugs


Aye Aye Mu, 46, is an ethnic Chin and a lower house lawmaker for the National League for Democracy (NLD) who represents Kale Township, in western Burma’s Sagaing Division.

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On a cloudy afternoon in June, Lieutenant Bo Bo Win Htut and several officers of Kalay Police Station were hiding in the long grass near a bridge outside of the Sagaing Region capital. Dressed in plain clothes, and with back up provided by a local armed militia and members of the civil service, they waited to ambush a small-time drug dealer heading to Tamu, a town on Myanmar’s western border with northeast India located some 80 km from Kalay.

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The production and trafficking of narcotic drugs can be controlled nationwide only after peace, stability and the rule of law have been restored in Burma’s ethnic minority borderlands, said Police Col Zaw Lin Tun, head of planning at the Burma Police’s anti-drug squad.

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In an effort to raise awareness and strengthen Myanmar’s response to the production, trafficking and use of illicit drugs, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Government of Myanmar held a number of high-level policy discussions today.

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Myanmar police on Sunday torched drugs with a reported street value of nearly US$60 million as authorities struggle to tackle the scourge of poppy cultivation and shut down pill laboratories in lawless border zones.

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The Wa National Organization (WNO), the political wing of an ethnic Wa armed group, has announced that it had no involvement in the actions of one of its former leaders, Ta Ma Ha (also known as Ma Ma) who was arrested in Chiang Mai for drug trafficking last week.

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Ma Ma, a leader of the Wa National Organization (WNO), the political wing of an ethnic Wa armed group, was arrested by Thai narcotics police in Chiang Mai, Thailand this week.

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In Myanmar, thousands of families earn a living farming the crop that feeds the heroin habit of the world’s drug users. But not all of the country’s opium is smuggled abroad.

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Police are to mount a crackdown in four Yangon Region townships to restore the rule of law in what have been deemed crime black spots. The regional parliament announced the plan yesterday, identifying targets as drug trafficking, gambling, protection rackets and illegal massage parlours.

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On Tuesday, more than a dozen National League for Democracy (NLD) lawmakers in the Rangoon Division parliament demanded that authorities crack down on big-time drug dealers and smugglers in the city, who keep evading arrest, citing the worsening effect of drugs on Rangoon’s youth.

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Hospitals are refusing to open drug treatment centres for fear of attracting criminals, campaigners say. While residents who live near a methadone therapy program in Yangon say they have seen drug users in the vicinity and they fear to go out at night, advocates have called on health authorities to open more centres because of the growing need.

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Ahead of a United Nations summit on global drug issues, Burma’s Drug Policy Advocacy Group (DPAG) has highlighted the need to develop humane drug policies at home.
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In recent months, Pat Jasan, an ethnic Kachin public movement, has made headlines with its vigilante-style march on opium-producing poppy plantations, which its volunteers cut down in an effort to curb rising drug abuse in northern Myanmar’s Kachin State.
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Fighting between Kachin Independence Army (KIA) troops and those from a government backed People’s Militia Force broke out in Kachin state’s Kampaiti last Tuesday March 22nd. The clash appears to have been triggered by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) Third Regiment’s efforts to eradicate opium in the area.
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The creation of Pat Jasan and its ‘people’s war on drugs’ have brought to light a number of key drug-related problems facing not only the Kachin State but also the rest of the country. Praised by some Kachin activists for finally addressing drug problems, they are also criticized by others for violating human rights and not providing any services to marginalized communities, including drug users and poppy farmers.
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The Burma Army raided a drug rehabilitation centre in Muse Township, Central Shan State and arrested 72 people, most of them patients, for involvement in the drug trade on 20 March, said treatment centre staff.
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The Lao People’s Army patrol boat was custom-made in China with night-vision capability and two of the most powerful engines on this remote stretch of the Mekong River.
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An Arakan State-based journalist claims to have been targeted for his media outlet’s coverage of controversial issues, holding a press conference in Rangoon on Monday to discuss an explosion last week at his home in Sittwe that he characterized as an attack.
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Leaders of the Christian Kachin-based anti-narcotic group Pat Ja San (PJS) said on 6 March that they were unaware that the group is being sued by U Zakhung Tin Ying’s family.
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Members of a controversial drug vigilante group are being investigated by police, following an attack on the home of a Kachin militia leader.
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