Monday, July 6, 2009

Junta issues tall order to eradicate poppy cultivation

Hseng Khio Fah

(SHANLAND) -Naypyidaw has issued a directive to destroy all poppy fields in the upcoming poppy 2009-2010 season, according to sources close to the official circle.

The order was passed by the Minister of Home Affairs in late June after seeing survey report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime that Burma still remains the world’s second largest source of opium poppy cultivation.

According to the UNODC figures, 68,446 acres of poppies were grown in Burma during the 2007-2008 season of which 11,948 were destroyed during the period. In the last poppy season (2008-2009), there were 70,423 acre of poppy fields and again only 9,607 acres were destroyed. (Up to 50% were destroyed by bad weather-Editor)

However, the directive had not taken into consideration the reliance placed by the local army and police units on the local populace, according to an official source in eastern Shan State. “If people are not allowed to grow, they will have nothing and the junta men will also go hungry,” he said.

The Lahu National Development Organization (LNDO) also said that poppy cultivation could increase in the coming season (2009-2010) as most poppy areas are under the control of the junta-backed militia units.“For one thing, the militia forces have to share opium tax with the local military units,” he said. “For another, local authorities are relying on the people to vote for the government party in the upcoming elections.”

President Barack Obama has said that the War on Drugs, launched by President Nixon in 1971, is an “utter failure.”

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