Locals deny border drug
Locals deny border drug-free
In response to the New Light of Myanmar, 30 January, reporting the three townships across the Thai border was rid of the poppy cultivation in the 2002-2003 season, both Lahu and Shan sources maintained the reality was entirely the other way round.
"All the 8 tracts of Mongton township (opposite Chiangmai's Wianghaeng and Chiangdao Disrticts) still grow opium," said a Shan source in reply to S.H.A.N. inquiry. "The number of poppy farmers have also increased due to arrivals from both across the Salween and Thailand."
This situation is the same in Mongpiang a township north of Mongton, where a meeting was called on "the 8th Waning Moon of the 10th Lunar Month" (29 September) by Company 4, Infantry Battalion 43 at the village of Mongpu Long. The villagers were informed that they were required to grow poppies 'for the sake of their own survival' and those who failed to comply would be fined 5,000 kyat each, according to the sources.
"It is in Monghsat Township, opposite Chiangmai's Fang and Mae Ai districts and Chiangrai's Mae Fa Luang District, where areas adjoining the border have mostly been free of poppy fields for the first time in years," said a Lahu source. "It is because the Wa had given instructions since last year against poppy cultivation. We heard Mongyawn (just across Mae Ai) was to become a tourist attraction and Yawngkha (opposite Mae Fa Luang) a crop replacement center."
The poppy fields, as a result, have moved to north of the Monghsat-Tachilek road, but still well inside Monghsat Township.
All sources agreed that signs of decrease in the production were non-existent in Monghsat, Mongton and Mongpiang. "Only the number of refineries has dropped," said one, "due to the fact that small ones are no longer encouraged to run. Only big ones remain."
According to the New Light of Myanmar, it was only in Mongton Township that "66.30 acres of poppy were grown, but all the poppy plantations were destroyed" by December last year. "The region cannot be considered as drug-free simply because there is no cultivation of poppy and no production of heroin in that area", said Labor Minister U Tin Winn, who is also chairman of Shan State (East) Work Committee for Drug Elimination on 29 January during his tour of the area.