Shan Drug Watch: Ten Years After

The following is a condensed version of what appears in Shan Drug Watch, Issue # 2, published today to mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking – Editor

Ten Years After
June 26 marks ten years since the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) embarked on its 15-year plan to eradicate the cultivation and production of all drugs in Burma by 2014.
sdw-cover Over the last 10 years, the ruling Burmese junta has claimed the apprehension of hundreds of drug dealers, the confiscation of thousands of kilos of opium and heroin, and the destruction of thousands of hectares of poppy fields. The SPDC also say that there has been significant reduction in opiate production in Burma since the industry peaked in the country in the mid-1990s.

The picture might be one of remarkable success, but information revealed through S.H.A.N’s sources paints a very different picture.

According to S.H.A.N’s information, during the past decade the junta has not arrested major suppliers or traffickers as claimed, but mostly low-level dealers and users. SPDC might have suppressed cultivation in 13 targeted townships, but has failed in some 30 others, and, worryingly, poppy cultivation and production is increasing in villages outside the areas outlined for eradication.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Burma’s role in the world’s opium trade is a mere fraction of what it was 10 years ago, when it was responsible for roughly 50 per cent of the world’s illicit output. Now, UNODC says, the figure is around five per cent, and the amount of opium produced in Burma has dropped from nearly 1,800 tonnes in 1993 to 460 tonnes in 2007. Continue reading “Shan Drug Watch: Ten Years After”

Burma’s share of global opium production has roughly held steady over the last year, according to a 2009 drug production report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The report, released on June 24, says poppy cultivation in Burma marginally increased to 28,500 ha (hectares) in 2008 from 27,700 ha in 2007, with the total potential value of opium production rising only three million dollars, to US$ 123 million, in 2008.

Opium production in Burma continues to be dominated by the eastern part of the country, with Shan state accounting for 89 percent of national production and the remaining 11 percent split between Kachin and Karenni states.

Khuensai Jaiyen, editor of the Thailand-based Shan Herald Agency for News, confirmed that eastern Shan state continues to be the hub of the country’s opium production and speculates a further rise in the region’s production is to be expected.

“There will be a further increase in poppy cultivation in the future because people have no other choice for their livelihood than this business,” said Khuensai Jaiyen. Continue reading “Burma’s share of global opium production has roughly held steady over the last year, according to a 2009 drug production report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).”