Univ. Students Call for Opium Poppy Eradication in Chin State
27 November 2012: The Zomi University Student Fellowship called during their recent seminar in Tedim Township for an immediate end to the opium cultivation in northern parts of Chin State.
In a statement released last Sunday, the Zomi Siamsin Kipawlna demanded the government of Chin State to take action in accordance with its promises given to the locals one year ago on eradication of opium plantation.
The statement said the Chin government made a commitment to provide local farmers with new technologies that would help their cultivation more profitable in replacement of poppy farming.
Late last year, Chief Minister Hung Ngai said in an opium-eradication ceremony in Tonzang Township that local farmers would stop growing poppies and start other income-generating agriculture with assistance from the government.
About 245.2 kilograms of poppy seeds were surrendered in a public gathering attended by Chief Minister of Chin State government and other Chin ministers as well as departmental officials in two events held in Tonzang Township in October last year.
“We haven’t seen any changes or improvement on the ground since the government gave promises to us. What we want to see now is not an oral contract but an action that would bring a healthy community for us,” said one of the student leaders from Tedim Township.
Since 2006, poppy cultivation has increased in the northern parts of Chin State such as Tonzang and Cikha areas under the direct control of local military authorities in collaboration with the Meitei rebel group from Manipur State of India.
The Zomi University students also called in their letter on both the central and local governments of Burma to stop illegal activities along the Indian-Burma border, which impose threats to the local community in Chin State.
It is estimated that between 1,000 and 5,000 acres of land have been used for opium poppy plantation in Tonzang Township only under a secret deal and control of Burma’s military authorities and Manipur’s Meitei armed group.
The Chin Natioanal Front and Chin State government agreed to closely operate in eradicating illegal poppy cultivation, drug business and drug smuggling in northern Chin State, as one of the provisions in the preliminary ceasefire agreement.
The sixth seminar of the Zomi University Student Fellowship was held at Tuithang village of Tedim Township, Chin State from 19-25 November 2012, with over 100 participants, according to the Chin World Media.
Reporting by Thawng Zel Thang