WEDNESDAY, 22 APRIL 2009 16:56 KHUN AUNG KHAM
As drugs grow popular in Mong Pu, Mong Hsat Township, Eastern Shan State, many people are found unable to do their jobs without drugs. They are selling what they have to buy drugs instead of buying food and, as a result, are getting thinner and thinner, said local villagers.
“Many drug users in our village are getting thinner and thinner. If we look at them from their back they still look like human beings but if we look at them from the front, they look like monkeys,” said one local who arrived on the border recently.
Usually, they don’t care for anything when they are craving for drugs. They sell what they own even cows or buffaloes. When everything is gone, they repent but it is already too late for them, said another.
The affect of drugs is not only on individuals but on other people as well. Sometimes when there are celebrations in the village, drug users usually never come to help if there is no drug to feed them. “In the past, whenever we held festivals or celebrations villagers were very united and helped each other, but today they don’t help each other if there is no drugs for them,” said an old villager.
There are Shan, Lahu and Palaung living together around Mong Pu village. As the number of drug users is increasing and the situation becomes worse, many villagers are starting to move to other places, some of them to Thailand as illegal migrant workers.
Many Palaungs have moved away from that area. As for the Shans they are going to hold consult among themselves whether they should move or keep staying there.
Mong Pu area is controlled by the Junta-backed Lahu militia. They do farming, logging and collecting taxes from opium farmers, said a Palaung farmer.
Mong hsat is one of the major opium producing Township in Eastern Shan State. The bad weather during the last poppy season had reduced the output in Southern Shan State but not in the Eastern.