Yangon, 26 June - Secretary-1 of the State Peace and Development Council General Khin Nyunt attended the ceremony to destroy the seized narcotic drugs for the 17th time, organized by Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control, at the compound of the Drug Elimination Museum at the corner of Hanthawady and Kyundaw Streets in Kamayut Township at 8 am today.
IP Ohnmar Yin Mee and IP Ma Pyone of Myanmar Police Force Headquarters acted as masters of ceremonies.
Secretary of CCDAC Director-General of MPF Brig-Gen Khin Yi presented a report. He said:
Being an occasion to burn and destroy narcotic drugs, a menace that can destroy the entire human race, distinguished guests will clearly witness today how Myanmar is striving relentlessly to control and eradicate narcotic drugs. We firmly believe this undertaking as a national cause.
Today is the seventeenth occasion of burning seized narcotic drugs here in Yangon since 1990. There have also been 32 occasions where narcotic drugs, chemical precursors and opium seeds were burnt and destroyed in border areas and other towns.
In addition to these control measures, a 15-year programme to reduce poppy cultivation and opium production started in 1999-2000 and is now already in its 5th year of implementation. As part of this 15-year programme for reducing supplies, New Destiny Project was launched in April 2002 on a pilot scale. In project areas, educational campaigns, crops substitution, livestock breeding, income generation and other development activities are being initiated with increased momentum and the leaders of different national races cooperated by laying down directives on informative as well as prohibitive measures in their own local dialects with active involvement of the local authorities. Five Cabinet Ministers who are members of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control are in the forefront of these activities with four Deputy Ministers closely supervising the development process in respective project areas.
Destroying poppy seeds surrendered voluntarily to the authorities is also an important element in this project. Although poppy seeds do not contain morphine and consequently do not come under international control, the seeds themselves can be grown into plants. This led to advocate for surrendering them voluntarily and there have been ten different occasions where the surrendered poppy pods and seeds were burnt. A total of 165,988 kilograms of seeds surrendered by poppy farmers in a way prevented 101,646 acres of poppy being cultivated that can ultimately produce 45 tons of heroin.
In order to eradicate narcotic drugs, Myanmar and the United States have joined hands to conduct yield surveys. A total of nine surveys have been conducted since 1993 and from 1997 onwards, it was found that there has been a marked decline in poppy cultivation and opium production. Between 2001 and 2002, 26 percent decline was recorded and recent surveys in 2003 indicate that there will be further decline in poppy cultivation.
Similarly, CCDAC and UNODC launched preliminary ground surveys under its joint program to survey illicit cultivation of poppy plants and estimated that 1097 tons of opium was produced during 2001. The following year estimation was 828 tons of opium and this verified that there was a marked decrease in poppy cultivation and opium production during the year 2002. Furthermore, the International Narcotic Control Board (INCB), in its 2002 annual report, recorded a decrease in poppy cultivation and opium production in Myanmar. This INCB report and the data collected from Myanmar-United States joint yield surveys manifest that the decline in poppy cultivation and opium production in Myanmar is the result of a united effort of the regional authorities and all national races with the Government in the lead. Here I would like to reiterate that this yearly decline is not due to unfavourable weather conditions but because of the close cooperation between the nation and its people.
On one hand, there is indeed a decline in poppy cultivation and opium production but on the other, the threat of amphetamine type substances (ATS) is found to be on the rise in Myanmar. Although the amount of opium and heroin seized had decreased since 1997, an annual increase in seizure of ATS can be observed from 1996 up till 2001. The seizure of ATS tablets was down to 9.4 million during 2002 and for 2003, only 2 million tablets were seized up till April.
The seizure of chemicals used for producing these tablets are reported to be over one hundred and eighty thousand litters in 2001, twenty nine thousand liters in 2002 and around twenty two thousand liters up till April 2003. Ephedrine, Caffeine and other chemicals used for producing ATS tables are not produced in Myanmar. They are been brought in illegally from neighbouring countries like Thailand, China and India and we know that these countries are taking measures to prevent chemicals from diversion into illicit trade. However, unlawful characters are mobilizing all available means to smuggle these chemicals into Myanmar and accordingly, would like to emphasize that there is an urgent need to control these products.
I would like to go on to say that the Chairman of the Central Committee himself attended the 46th session of United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs held in Vienna in April this year and reported on Myanmar's timely fulfilment of obligations set forth in the Political Declaration of the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Narcotic Drugs in 1998. These are the measures to be taken by UN member countries in controlling narcotic drugs. Myanmar had already promulgated Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substance Law in 1993 and the Ministry of Health has altogether notified 25 controlled chemicals in 2002. Money Laundering Law was promulgated in 2002 and by-laws have already been drafted for enforcement actions. We have also held two workshops on drafting a law for cooperation between States on trans border crimes.
In addition, we have already signed three UN Conventions on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and will be signing Protocol (1) attached thereto very soon. It's been more than 150 years that we have inherited the history's dire legacy of disastrous narcotic drugs. Due to insurgent problems, subsequent Governments were not successful in fighting against it and only after 1988, the present government was able to bring different armed groups into the legal fold. The resolute efforts made thereafter for the development of border areas and national races resulted in a defeat over drug dependency habits and consequently, Mongla area in Eastern Shan State became an opium free zone in 1997.
This incited Kokang and Wa areas to declare their intention to be free of opium by 2003 and 2005 respectively and the local population have joined hands with the Government to work towards this end. In Myanmar, another significant development during the year 2002/2003 is the efforts to turn the areas along the Thai border namely: Tachilek; Kawthoung; and Myawady districts into narcotic free areas. In Tachilek district, anti-narcotics association has been formed, educational billboards erected and with the establishment of drug treatment units and rehabilitation centres, activities are progressing well.
Similarly in Kawthoung district, formation of anti narcotic association, introduction of awareness campaigns among students and youths and construction of educational billboards are well underway and plans are being made for the establishment of a drug treatment unit.
Forming anti narcotic association and conducting awareness campaigns are also part of activities launched in Myawady district with preparations for establishing a drug treatment unit and erecting educational billboards gaining momentum.
Another noteworthy feature is the intensified cooperation with neighbouring countries as well as with international organizations throughout these years. For Myanmar-China bilateral narcotic control program, we were able to establish border liaison offices at Lwei Gyai in Kachin and at Chin Shwe Haw in Northern Shan States. Also at Tachilek, a border liaison office was established for Myanmar-Thailand-Laos trilateral cooperation and another one at Myawady for Myanmar-Thailand cooperation. In 2002/2003, the cooperation with neighbouring countries led to the capture of 18 drug offenders wanted by China and were handed over in seven occasions out of which two were by the Wa Authorities. These events demonstrate the emphasis Myanmar places for international cooperation.
One of benefits deriving from this Myanmar-China bilateral cooperation is the decrease in the movements of narcotic syndicates and drug traffickers along the two country border.
Cognizant of the fact that Myanmar's efforts alone will not bear much fruit in controlling and preventing narcotic drugs, a new chapter for cooperation at bilateral, trilateral and sub-regional levels is now being opened and carried out.
Within this sub-region, the prominent endeavours of our neighbouring country Thailand directly complement our country's request for drug control and prevention and we on our part will further pursue with vigour.
Here, I would like to bring to your attention that though we have not received international assistance, Myanmar, in line with the directives laid down by senior Government officials and in conformity with prescribed strategies and tactics, has exerted all out efforts to eradicate narcotic drugs utilizing our own resources.
In conclusion, allow me to list some of the seized drugs to be burnt and destroyed during this seventeenth occasion. They are:
Drugs to be destroyed today, calculated by their street value in United States, is worth around US dollars 862 millions. From the first up to today's seventeenth occasion, the total amount of drugs burnt is worth more than US dollars 12,414 millions. I would now like to invite all our distinguished guests to test the authenticity of the seized drugs before we destroy them.
Then, cough syrup bottles with drugs potency were destroyed by rollers. Next, ambassadors, charges d'affaires, military attaches, resident representatives of UN agencies and officials tested the narcotic drugs.
CCDAC Chairman Minister for Home Affairs Col Tin Hlaing, Deputy Dean of the Diplomatic Corps Ambassador of Singapore Mr Simon Tensing de Cruz and Philippine Ambassador Mme Phoebe A Gomez pressed the buttons to incinerate the seized narcotic drugs.
Also present on the occasion were Chairman of Yangon Division Peace and Development Council Commander of Yangon Command Maj-Gen Myint Swe, Chairman of CCDAC Minister for Home Affairs Col Tin Hlaing, Vice-Chairmen of the Committee Minister for Foreign Affairs U Win Aung and Minister for Progress of Border Areas and National Races and Development Affairs Col Thein Nyunt, ministers, the Attorney-General, deputy ministers, ambassadors, charges d'affaires and military attaches of foreign missions, resident representatives of UN agencies, officials of the State Peace and Development Council Office, departmental heads, members of the CCDAC, members of the work groups, senior police officers, officials of social organizations, officials of the Ministry of Information, patron of Myanmar Foreign Correspondents Club U Hla Htway, President U Sao Kai Hpa and members, correspondents of foreign news agencies and broadcasting stations, prize winners of the short story, article, song, poem, painting, cartoon, poster, computer art and computer poster competitions to mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and guests. After the ceremony, the Secretary-1 cordially met with those present.
Then, the Secretary-1 and party and guests viewed the prize winning works of the short story, article, song, poem, painting, cartoon, poster, computer art and computer poster competitions to mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on the first floor of the museum and visited the New Destiny Project booth on the first floor, the educative documentary with Myanmar and English CD-ROM versions and the booth on educative work for students on danger of narcotic drugs on the second floor.