Prime Minister attends 18th Ceremony of Destruction of Seized Drugs 18th destruction of seized narcotic drugs worth US$ 247 million

YANGON, 26 June — The 18th Ceremony of the Destruction of Seized Drugs, organized by Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control, was held at the compound of Drug Elimination Museum at the corner of Kyundaw and Hanthawady Roads in Kamayut Township this morning, attended by Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt.

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 Minister for Foreign Affairs U Win Aung and Minister for Progress of Border Areas and National Races and Development Affairs Col Thein Nyunt, the ministers, the Yangon mayor, the deputy ministers, ambassadors, charges d’affaires ai of foreign missions, military region commanders, resident representatives of UN agencies and officials, officials of the State Peace and Development Council Office, departmental heads, members of CCDAC and work groups, senior police officers, officials of social organizations, media persons of the Ministry of Information, the patron, the president and members of Myanmar Foreign Correspondents Club, correspondents from foreign news agencies and broadcasting stations, winners in short story, article, song, poem, painting, cartoon, poster, computer painting, computer poster and photo competitions to mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and guests.

Police Sub-Inspector Khin Nu Kyi and Police Sub-Inspector Sanda Pa Pa Win acted as masters of ceremonies.

Secretary of CCDAC Director-General of Myanmar Police Force Brig-Gen Khin Yi made clarifications. He said that today, the 26th of June is the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, ceremonies to mark this day are being held annually in countries all over the world and also in Myanmar. Every year on this day, Myanmar holds a ceremony to commemorate this day by burning and destroying drugs seized as a result of the efforts to eliminate drugs in the country. The destruction of drugs by burning has been carried out in Yangon since 1990 and this ceremony today is the 18th occasion. Similar ceremonies have been held not only in Yangon, but also in border areas and other towns where seized drugs, precursor chemicals and also poppy seeds have been burned for thirty-two times.

Since the purpose of the occasion today is to burn and destroy drugs which are endangering the human race, the distinguished guests will have the opportunity to witness firsthand, the unsparing efforts of Myanmar in the fight against drugs as a National Cause. Allow me to take this opportunity to bring to your attention that at this time when the world community is fighting all out against drugs, the Union of Myanmar is also actively participating on par with other countries of the world if not in the forefront.

Never lagging behind in the prevention and enforcement sectors of drug eradication activities, Myanmar has taken the initiative in the supply reduction by launching a 15-year elimination plan since 1999 with three five-year Phases with the objective of totally stopping opium poppy cultivation and production by 2014. The First five-year Phase of this plan terminated this year and it has been assessed that the objectives of the first phase have been successfully met. The success in meeting the target of the first phase was due to the serious commitment, close monitoring and supervision and full support of the Government. Furthermore, the active participation of the regional authorities, local leaders of the national races and the local people was also a crucial contributing factor.

The Implementation of the five rural development tasks in 24 regions to elevate the living standards of the national races of the border areas also contributed to the successful results. I would like to assure you here that we will do our utmost to realize the objectives of the 15-Year Plan, the main tasks such as elimination of drug production and drug abuse, prevention and law enforcement, encourage the participation of the public and international cooperation. Learning from the success and short-comings encountered during the first phase, plans have been made to implement the second phase five years in the best possible way. As part and parcel of the 15-year plan, a pilot project known as the New Destiny Project was launched in April, 2002. Opium yield surveys jointly conducted annually with the United States since 1993 reported a decrease of 39% in cultivation in 2003 with a potential production of 484 metric tons of opium while the UNODC Illicit Crops Monitoring Programmes jointly conducted with CCDAC reported a decrease of 24% in cultivation and a potential production of 810 metric tons. United States figures show that from 1996 to 2003 over a span of 8 years, poppy cultivation has steadily declined by 71% while opium production decreased by 81%. Surveys for 2004 have also been conducted jointly with the United States and UNODC early this year. I am happy to report at this occasion that from field observation it is estimated that cultivation and production will continue to decline. Although poppy cultivation has been reduced in Myanmar, the danger of stimulant tablets is becoming a threat on the other hand. Seizure of drugs in Myanmar has been decreasing yearly within the period between 1997 and 2003. Heroin seizures decreased annually from 1997 to 2001, but there was a slight increase in the years 2002 and 2003. Although drug and heroin seizures have been decreasing every year, the seizure of stimulant tablets since 1996 has been increasing yearly from 1996 to 2001. However from 2002 up till the present, it was found that seizure of stimulant tablets has also decreased. Regarding the seizure of precursor chemicals used in the manufacture of stimulant tablets, over 180 thousand litres in the year 2001, over 29 thousand litres in 2002 and 39 thousand litres in 2003 have been seized. For the year 2004, up till the month of April, over 14 thousand litres of precursor chemicals have been seized. Ephedrine, caffeine and other precursor chemicals which are essential in the manufacture of stimulant tablets are not produced in Myanmar, but are smuggled from neighbouring countries. We are aware that the neighbouring countries are also seriously taking preventive measures to control and stop these chemicals from diversion to illegal channels. However, unscrupulous persons are using various methods to smuggle them to the clandestine refineries and laboratories along the common border areas of Myanmar. I would like to stress here that we are taking cooperation and urgent measures with our neighbouring countries for the control of these chemicals.

We are fully aware of and accept the fact that Myanmar alone cannot be successful in the fight against drugs but needs cooperation with neighbouring countries. Subsequently, we have established bilateral, trilateral and multilateral cooperation with neighbouring countries of the sub-region as well as countries in the region.With a view to enhancing cooperation with neighbouring countries and also with international law enforcement agencies, Border Liaison Offices at the Myanmar-China border areas cooperation have been opened in Myawady and Tachilek. A similar office for Myanmar-Laos cooperation has been set up in Tachilek. To increase cooperation with Thailand, preparations are under way to open Border Liaison offices in Kawthoung and also in Wanpone and Wankyin along the Mekong River for cooperation with Laos.

Regarding law enforcement cooperation with China, 3 Chinese suspects arrested on drug charges were repatriated to Chinese authorities in December 2003. Another three drug suspects were repatriated in February 2004 and very recently on the 7 June, 2004, nine drug traffickers were extradited to China at Mongla of the Special Region 4. From 2001 up to date, thirty-five drug traffickers have been repatriated to the Chinese authorities on thirteen occasions. Similarly, we also enjoy good cooperation with our western neighbour, India. We have been meeting at both senior and field level officials to find ways and means to control and prevent drugs and precursor chemicals trafficking along our common borders. This cooperation has resulted in the drastic decline of drugs and precursors seizures in recent years. For example, Phensedyl seizures have dropped continuously and last year we have been able to seize only 74 litres while this year up to May there had been only 23 litres seized. Moreover, the Indian authorities have successfully persuaded the pharmaceutical companies to substitute codeine with synthetic chemicals in the much abused cough syrup.

I would also like to add that the outstanding efforts of neighbouring Thailand on their War on Drugs, has affected the sub-region and has also indirectly contributed to our efforts for drug eradication. Another noteworthy fact in 2003 is the efforts to establish Tachilek, Kawthoung and Myawady along the Thai border as drug free districts. These three districts, anti-drug organizations and working groups to promote awareness among students have been formed and are actively promoting drug awareness and putting up anti-drug billboards Hospitals to help drug addicts have also been established. Here, I would like to reiterate that fact although Myanmar has not received any substantial international support in the fight against drugs; we have not been sitting idle and discouraged but have been striving with our utmost efforts to this end using our own limited resources.

In conclusion, at this 18th occasion we are going to burn and destroy the following drugs seized by our law enforcement agencies within last year; —
Opium 710.497 kilos
Heroin 353.754 kilos
Marijuana 99.025 kilos
Stimulant pills 2643800.00 tablets
Stimulant power 59.865 kilos
Ephedrine powder 232.535 kilos
Diazepam pills 1010.00 pills
Furthermore, I would also like to mention that the drugs to be destroyed today have a street value of more than 247 million US dollars. The present value of drugs which have been destroyed since the 1st occasion up till the 18th occasion today is more than 14,452 million US dollars. Before the drugs are burned and destroyed, you are cordially invited to conduct tests to personally confirm the authenticity of the drugs.

Next, the ambassadors, charges d’affaires, military attachés, resident representatives of UN agencies and officials tested the drugs to be burnt and destroyed bottles of cough syrups which contains opium. CCDAC Chairman Minister for Home Affairs Col Tin Hlaing, Dean of the diplomatic Crops Ambassador of Singapore Mr Simon Tensing de Cruz, Japanese Ambassador Mr Yuji Miyamoto and Thai Ambassador Mr Suphot Dhirakasol pressed the buttons of remote controls to set on fire to the seized drugs.

After the ceremony, Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt cordially greeted the ambassadors, charges d’affaires, military attachés and guests. Next, they inspected the drug educative exhibition held on the ground floor of the museum.