Drug addiction # 1 popular grievance: SSA report

Loi Taileng — According to a report filed by the Restoration Council of Shan State / Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) delegation that returned from a 52-day public consultation trip in December, doing away with drug addiction ranks # 1 in the people’s demands to the country’s leaders.

U Kyaw Myint aka Li Yongqiang, Shan State Assembly (USDP)
“We don’t understand politics,” one parent was quoted as saying by Brig-Gen Pawng Kherh, head of the delegation. “What we want from you is to cure our children from drug addiction. We’re only interested in deeds, not words.”

Another parent from Panglong agrees. “Development can wait,” he said. “Drug eradication should come first. How can you do educational development, when our kids remain addicted to drugs.”

In Lashio, Shan State’s northern capital, not only youth and women, but also monks are among drug users. “We can’t depend on the police,” said an elder. “Because they are taking money from drug peddlers and rich drug addicts. We can’t inform on the PMF (People’s Militia Force)’s drug activities either, because they are run by the military.”

An SSA officer, who was a former monk, told the annual meeting held in Loi Taileng, the RCSS/SSA base, opposite Meahongson’s Pang Mapha district, “I feel like crying whenever I think about the state our people are in. This was how the Europeans took China. It is now happening to us.”

Meeting between the Government, UNODC and RCSS at the City Hall, in Tachileik, On 27-28 October 2012 (Photo: www.rcssanc.org)

Nowadays, drugs have become a way of life, he added. “There is no one to help you during social occasions, if you don’t have drugs available for the use of your expected helpers. In many cases, we found hired hands were paid with drugs instead of cash.”

One head monk in Kyaukme told the delegation: “Dhammacakra (religious teachings) has no way with today’s people. The only way is through Anacakra (force). Reasoning with them is a waste of time.”

Many had blamed on all armed movements, especially the PMFs.

“We don’t know how things are in other townships,” said an elder in Namkham. “But here everyone knows where they (drugs) come from. The PMF here is selling so freely I suspect there must be an official policy behind it.”

“Drugs here won’t go away as long as there are PMFs,” he concluded.

The Panhsay PMF in Namkham is headed by U Kyaw Myint aka Li Yongqiang, who is also a Shan State Assembly representative for the Union Solidarity and Development Party, regarded as the military’s proxy.

Most of the people had urged cooperation by all those concerned: government, police, army, armed movements, parties and CSOs, to address the problem. “You can’t win doing it alone,” an elder from Mongpan admonished. “You can’t succeed when they have the PMF as a spoiler.”

The RCSS/SSA signed a 9 point agreement with Naypyitaw for cooperation on setting up crop substitution projects in Mongnai and Mongpan townships on 28 October. The program, to be supported by the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), however is still in a state of deadlock over the question of whether the RCSS/SSA personnel should carry arms in the project areas.

For more information on RCSS/SSA anti-drug activities, please visit www.rcssanc.org.


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