Drugs


Police have promised to launch a new strategy to control narcotics, taking a more health- and development-centred approach than their previous punitive action plans.

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Police in Muse township raided a drug user’s house and sent 11 addicts to prison last week, claiming that the nearest rehabilitation camp was too far to arrange a transfer.

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The Karen National Union (KNU) said it is taken action to curb the sale and use of drugs in its controlled area.

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Five years ago, when cold pills first trickled across Myanmar’s untamed border with India, many local officials were baffled. Where was this medicine going, and why were smugglers so interested in it?

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In a backroom heavy with sawdust, Mr Akkarin Puri, 33, carefully examines the veneer of a half-finished guitar. There was a time when the craftsman’s attention was more focused on inhaling the vapours from a pill of yaba – a methamphetamine – heated over a flame. In fact, by the age of 21, his drug habit had landed him in juvenile detention at least six times and a military lock-up for 18 months.

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Upper House lawmakers have blamed Burma’s endemic drug problem on a nexus of corrupt government officials and warlords commanding ethnic militias, and demanded that the government take a tough line against both.

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Myanmar’s deputy home affairs minister Major General Aung Soe on Tuesday requested additional police officers and funding to combat illegal narcotics in eastern Myanmar’s impoverished Shan state where sales and use of methamphetamine and heroin are rampant.

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Myanmar’s upper house of parliament yesterday unanimously approved a motion submitted by an ethnic Shan lawmaker to combat rampant illegal drug sales and use in Myanmar’s Shan state, RFA reported on 26 July.

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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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