Armed Conflict Promoting Drug Use in Ethnic Areas

Villagers claim that as a result of the recent armed conflict between the Palaung and Shan armed groups in Kyaukme Township of Shan State has been the increase in drug use and the availability of narcotic drugs for sale are now easier to find.

A villager from Mangsat said, “During this month, over half the youth population have used it [drugs]. I would say 7 out of 10 including girls are now using it [drugs].”

Win Khaing, Chief Officer of Kyaukme Township Police Station said on September 14 that with the various armed groups in the area and the extent of their involvement in drug trafficking is unknown, it is difficult for police to perform its anti-narcotic activities.

Win Khaing said, “The area is not secure due to the armed conflict. I’m not sure if armed groups are involved, but the anti-narcotic special police force cannot move freely. Though we don’t want to say they are fully involved. I think, generally [some individuals do].”

Ta Aik Kyaw, a spokeperson from the Ta’an National Liberation Army, the armed wing of the Palaung (Ta’an) State Liberation Front (PSLF) told Karen News that their troops have some access to the areas, but the region is mainly controlled by various armed groups.

Villagers claim the low cost of drugs is making the situation worse. A tablet of methamphetamine is currently being sold for 400 Kyats in Lwe Arn village tract, Kyaukme Township. According to local villagers, this a reduction of 50% as in the past a tablet was sold for 700 or 800 Kyats.

Village elders from Lwe Arn village tract.say that they are worried about the moral character of their young and that the young people won’t be interested in work.

Between 2005 and 2010, when the Palaung (Ta’an) State Liberation Front (PSLF) surrendered to the government, many Palaung youths took to drugs. In 2010, the Ta’an National Liberation Army was reformed stating that it would totally eradicate narcotic drugs in the Palaung region by 2017.

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