Narcotic Drugs Suppression Measures Undertaken by Northern Shan State Special Region(5)
Kachin Independence Army ( KIA ) Battalion No.4 led by U Ma Htu Naw broke away from the KIA main proper and returned to legal fold in January 1991 to join hands with the Government in the regional development works. It was designated as the Northern Shan State Special Region (5) by the Government. Since then they have been engaging in the regional development activities, based in the area surrounding of Kaung Khar, Kutkhai townships. As the region had previously been the area under massive poppy cultivation, the group, while making efforts for the development of the region, adopted anti-narcotic drug policy and has been actively cooperating with the Government in the prevention and suppression of narcotic drugs.
A meeting of the Central Military Commission of the Northern Shan State special Region (5) was held in November 1993 and adopted an important decision to totally prohibit the cultivation of poppy in their region starting from 1 April 1994 Pursuant to that decision, a notification prohibiting poppy cultivation was issued by the Central Military Commission and circulated in four languages namely,
Myanmar, Shan, Kachin and Chinese. The notification stated that drug abuse has caused enormous loss of human lives, brought sorrow and misery to families, rends the fabric of societies resulting form rise in drug addicts and is therefore prohibited worldwide. By this notification, poppy growing was totally prohibited in the northern Shan State Special Region (5) with effect from 1 April 1994.
The Central Military Commission of the northern Shan State Special Region (5) again issued the notification in Myanmar, English and Kachin languages on 20 March 1998 reaffirming prohibition of poppy cultivation in the Region starting
from 1998-99. Poppy cultivation has been officially prohibited and a crop
substitution programme was introduced in 1993 under the regional arrangement. It was unfortunately not successful. Th notification warned that those who fail to comply with the order prohibiting poppy growing shall be arrested according to the law in cooperation with the Government authorities. On 10 August 1998, the leaders of the northern Shan State Special Region(5) sent for the headmen of the villages in
the region and held discussions urging them to stop growing poppy starting from
the 1998-99 opium season, to switch to cultivation of other substitution crops
and to extensively engage in livestock breeding activities and plantation of perennials crops.
U Ma Htu Naw, leader of the Northern Shan State Special Region (5) had also made it
clear among his group on the leadership’s policy towards narcotic drug activities. His instruction
included that all the troops shall refrain from narcotic drugs and gambling activities, and that
those who use narcotic drugs and forcefully ask for money from the people shall be condemned
to death penalty. It was also made clear that those who are arrested for illicit drug use for the
first time shall be held in custody for 40 days, however those arrested for the second time shall
be punished by 50 strokes of cane and dismissed from the group. In accordance with this
instruction, two members the troops including one junior officer were sentenced to 40 days custody.
Action are being taken also on those who engaged in poppy growing in 1998. Members of
the armed group found guilty of poppy growing are not only punished with a fine of Kyats
100,000 but also demoted to the rank of private or dismissed from the Group. In the case of local
civilian, those who grew poppy were punished with d fine of Kyats 100,000. The sites of poppy
plantation were thoroughly inspected to make sure that they were properly destroyed and more
severe punishment were given to those who repeated the offense. There had been instances
when two of the members of the troops, a Captain and a Lieutenant, were fined Kyats
100,000 each and dismissed from the group after being demoted to the rank of private. Likewise, a
total of 65 local civilians who committed illegal poppy cultivation have also been arrested and imprisoned.
During 1997-98, there have been a total of 1080.60 acres under poppy cultivation in Kong Khar region, out of which 701.50 acres have been destroyed and 558.60 acres of corn were cultivated as substitutes. Experimental plantation of wheat and buckwheat as well as cultivation of other substitution crops suitable to the region’s climate are also planned to be carried out in those areas. At the request made by U Ma Htu Naw of the Northern Shan State
Special Region (5) to the Secretary(1) of the State Peace and Development Council, the Government has sent a team of personnel with agriculture expertise to Kong Khar region to provide necessary technical assistance in the cultivation of substitution crops. In Kong Khar region, 780 acres of paddy have been planted as substitute both in farming and taungya system (Shifting
cultivation), and arrangements are also being made to continue further plantation of such substitution crops.