Opium cultivation surging in constituency of Burma’s new ruling party
This report by the Palaung Women’s Organization (PWO) exposes a dramatic increase in opium cultivation in Burma’s northern Shan State in the constituency of a drug lord elected into the new military-backed parliament.
Still Poisoned, a follow-up to PWO’s 2010 Poisoned Hills report, documents how opium cultivation in 15 villages in Namkham Township has soared since the November 2010 election to over 1,100 hectares, an increase of over 78% in only two years. The opium trade in this area is controlled by “Pansay” Kyaw Myint, head of a pro-regime “People’s Militia Force” and elected MP for Burma’s ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party.
PWO research also shows that opium growing has spread to 12 new villages in Namkham in the past year, and regime troops, police and militia have been openly taxing opium farmers. There has consequently been a disturbing increase in drug addiction among local Palaung communities. PWO found that in one village, over 90% of males aged 15 and over were now addicted to either opium or heroin, more than double the rates recorded two years earlier. When campaigning to be elected into parliament, Kyaw Myint promised villagers they could grow opium for five years if they voted for him.