Opium Users on the Increase in Chin State
10 July 2011: The number of opium users among Chin youths in northern parts of Chin State is on the rise although the exact figures cannot be revealed as yet, sources claimed.
A university student from Tedim Township was quoted by the Chin World Media as saying that more youths, especially males, are known to have engaged in using opiates.
In certain villages in remote areas, almost all the men are said to have used opium, according to an interview by the Chin World Media last month.
The 2004 Opium Survey in Burma by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime stated that opium poppy cultivation was observed in small areas, essentially in the northeast corner near Bokkan village in Sagaing Division.
About 1,000 acres of land are made for poppy cultivation in northern Chin State, for which the military authorities have collected taxes from the locals over the past few years, according to Khonumthung News.
One Christian pastor, whose name is kept anonymous, told the Chin World Media that the estimated acres of land used for opium poppy plantation must now be around 5,000 in Tonzang Township.
The opium cultivation has grown enormously since 2009 after a Burma Army Officer was allegedly said of advising the villages that it was more meaningful to plant something that would quickly make financial benefits.
Sources confirm that the areas in which opium is cultivated are mostly controlled by rebel groups from northeast India in collaboration with Burma’s military authorities.
The Indian rebel groups are also known to be paying taxes to the local military authorities, according to Khonumgthung News.
The ‘unnamed’ local said that it is not easy to locate the exact areas of opium poppy cultivation due to the tight security put in place in the region.
Burma’s share of global opium production has increased from 5 per cent in 2007 to 12 per cent in 2010, with a rise in opium cultivation by 20 per cent in the country last year, according to the UN report last month.
Despite its recent burning of opium and other illegal drugs worth of US$50 million on the UN International Day against Drgu Abuse and Illicit Trafficking last month, Burma remains the second largest opium poppy producer in the world after Afghanistan.
Van Biak Thang