Members of civilian-initiated anti-drug campaign group, Pat Jasan, left Chyam Ju this morning to opium poppy fields at about 8 am after receiving green light from Burmese Army’s northern commander and heads of Kachin State’s police and anti-narcotics task force.
Burmese Army’s northern commander Brigadier Gen. Win Bo Shein and head of Kachin State’s anti-narcotics task force paid a visit to Pat Jasan members in Chyam Ju on Jan 25. About 50 government personnel from police, anti-narcotics and forestry department accompanied Pat Jasan members to provide security. Pat Jasan members have been asked by Burmese authorities to remove their camouflage uniforms and dress up in regular clothes.
About 1300 Pat Jasan members who had been stranded for three days in Wai Maw left for Kampaiti, Sadung, Chipwi, Tsin Chyai, Marsar and Chyiak Loi on Jan 23 but they were again stopped due to security concerns at Chyam Ju, located on the way to Chipwi. Local poppy farmers and local militia members holding swords, sticks, muskets, and rifles were reportedly waiting for Pat Jasan members on the way between Wai Maw and Sadung.
Pat Jasan members said the size of land used for opium poppy farming in Sadung, Kampaiti, Pangwa and Chipwi area in eastern Kachin State is doubled than their initial estimate of 2000 acres.
Most opium poppy fields in eastern Kachin State are located in areas controlled by Burmese Army-backed Border Guard Force led by Zahkung Ting Ying, local militia unit Htarne Pyi Thu Tsits led by Bawm Lang and Burmese Army, groups which are seen by anti-drug campaigners as protectors of poppy fields and opium production.
A local Christian minister said local farmers asked for rice if anti-drug campaigners eradicate their opium poppy fields. Local farmers also asked for Burmese Army and government personnel to come and destroy their poppies fields instead of Pat Jasan members, said the minister.