Fields destroyed by ceasefire group
A recent truce between two warring factions of the Shan Nationalities People's Liberation Organization (SNPLO), a ceasefire group, failed to save the poppy fields destroyed by one rival faction, according to new arrivals of migrants from southern Shan State...
No.10 - 03/206
8 March 2006
Fields destroyed by ceasefire group
A recent truce between two warring factions of the Shan Nationalities People's Liberation Organization (SNPLO), a ceasefire group, failed to save the poppy fields destroyed by one rival faction, according to new arrivals of migrants from southern Shan State:
Due to the intervention by the Burma Army's Taunggyi-based Eastern Region Command and the United Wa State Army (UWSA), all hostilities between factions led by Chit Maung and the aging Takelay have ceased since early February. On 2 February, Takelay, 77, was invited to Taunggyi and "requested" to retire peacefully to his home in Myaybyu Quarter.
As for Chit Maung, who appears to be in the Burma Army's favor, he was told the change of name from SNPLO to PNUO (PaO Regional Nationalities Unity Organization) would not be recognized by Rangoon, and was advised to revert to the old name adopted in 1968.
As for the poppy farmers in Loimaw, Hsihseng township, the truce came too late. Hundreds of acres of their fields were razed to the ground by the Chit Maung faction that controls the SNPLO area west of the Pawn. "It was to prevent the Takelay faction that has refineries in areas under its control (i.e. East of the Pawn: Namzang, Mongnai and Mawkmai townships) from buying up the harvest," said the SNPLO officer who is among the 300 newly arrived people who came to find refuge in one of the fruit plantations in Chiangmai's Fang area. "It's a sort of scorched earth policy."
The farmers had pleaded with the destruction teams, explaining they had paid tax both to the local Burma Army units and the SNPLO itself, all to no avail. "With the Burmese (Army), they only cut down the poor looking fields or those harvested," said a local farmer. "But the SNPLO, they just destroyed everything."
As a result, the price has risen from 500,000 kyat ($500) per viss (1.6 kg) to 520,000 kyat ($520).
Loimaw in Hsihseng township is one of the principal producers of opium in Shan State.
The Takelay faction "fortunately" is still in possession of Loiye in Mongzit tract, Namzang township, that is reputed to have some 2,000 acres of poppy fields.
It has also moved its refinery, reportedly managed by Takelay's son-in-law Kao Shan, to Nayai, Mongzit tract, Namzang township, where Kao Shan's brother Chou Sang has already had another one in operation. Both brothers are formerly from the Mong Tai Army of Khun Sa that surrendered in 1996.
All sources coming from southern Shan State agree there are more poppy fields this year than any other year in the past. "The Chinese bosses, who have agreement with local commanders, are responsible for the safety of the fields," said the source, who had been a hired farm hand before he left his home in Loilem.
The boss paid 30,000 kyat ($30) per month plus meals to a few of those who worked on a monthly basis and 3,000 kyat ($3) per day plus meals to the rest who worked part-time, he added.
The SNPLO joined forces with the Chinese-backed Communist Party of Burma (CPB) in 1974 but made peace with Rangoon later on 9 October 1994. It still enjoys cordial relations with the UWSA, the successor to the CPB. Zhao Zhungtang, a UWSA leader, is Takelay's son-in-law. The group split in October 2005.
Related report: Warring ceasefire factions square it with each other, 1 March 2006