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Narcotic Drugs :Myanmar To Achieve

Subject: Narcotic Drugs :Myanmar To Achieve Total Eradication in 15 Years

Narcotic Drugs :Myanmar To Achieve Total Eradication in 15 Years

                            WASHINGTON,  DC                                   

2 / 99 	          							         4 March 1999
Press Release

Narcotic Drugs :	Myanmar To Achieve Total Eradication in 15 Years

The Fourth International Conference 
on Heroin Underscores Myanmar's Commitment

	The Fourth International Conference on Heroin organized by Interpol wrapped
up its deliberations in Yangon on 26 February. The premier gathering of
counter-narcotic officials representing a broad spectrum of the international
community was a success. There was unanimous agreement that the meeting was a
significant step in the right direction. Even the last minute decision of the
US and some of its partners to stay away to promote their own political agenda
did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the delegates to seek ways to
strengthen international cooperation to overcome the scourge of heroin and
other illicit drugs. Interpol and countries represented at the conference
expressed regret that short term political considerations were accorded
precedence over the long-term need to find a global solution to a global
problem. They felt there was more to gain through dialogue and cooperation
than through boycotts and recriminations.

	Notwithstanding the charges leveled against it, the Myanmar Government has
been striving to overcome the drug menace. Since 1973 when a decision was
taken to initiate firm measures to combat illegal drugs, it has been striving
without fanfare to achieve its goal. Military operations against drug
traffickers were undertaken annually. These efforts, buttressed by US
assistance in the form of aircraft, helicopters, vehicles and equipment
totalling some US$ 86 million resulted in significant seizures:

			Heroin				     109		kg.
			Opium				  5,453		kg.
			Marijuana			     347		kg.
			Morphine			     344		kg.
			Chemical precursors		24,994		ltr.
			Opium liquid			71,524		ltr.
			Refineries destroyed		       15		nos.


However, following the situation in 1988 when the Armed Forces were compelled
to step in to prevent the disintegration of the nation, the US and the
European Union decided to withhold all assistance to Myanmar. As a result the

momentum in the fight against drugs initiated in the 70s was lost and drug
trafficking groups such as the MTA led by Khun Sa were provided an opportunity
to raise their ugly head. Despite this let- down, the Myanmar forces carried
the fight to the drug traffickers holed up in the remote border regions. By
1996 the MTA led by Khun Sa had no alternative but to surrender
unconditionally. The surrender was hastened by the fact that Khun Sa and his
followers realized the futility of fighting the Myanmar forces. In what must
be considered one of the most successful campaigns against drug traffickers in
the world, the Myanmar forces were able to bring about the surrender of Khun
Sa and his armed group (totalling 15,197 men and  9,993 assorted weapons )
between 1995 and 1998.

	In the past decade, the Myanmar Government despite having to rely on its own
limited resources was able to make the following seizures:

			Heroin				      4,136	kg.
			Opium				     28,046	kg.
			Chemical precursors		   249,787	ltr.
			Refineries destroyed		          106	nos.
			Poppy fields destroyed		     86,612	acres
			Phensedyl			     34,563	ltr.
			Ephedrine			       7,714	kg.
			Methamphetamine		2,686,928	tabs.

	The drugs seized have been destroyed in public on 13 occasions. The last
occasion was witnessed by the delegates to the International Conference on
Heroin in Yangon on 25 February 1999.

	The results were achieved not without immense sacrifices. The Myanmar Armed
Forces lost 766 men, including 20 officers in the anti-narcotic operations.
Over 2200 men including 80 officers have been maimed and wounded.

	The statistics clearly underscore  Myanmar's determination to fight the drug
war. Notwithstanding the fact that it actively cooperates with its neighbours
in trying to stem the flood of drugs, the US on 26 February once again "
decertified " Myanmar as a non-cooperating country.


The US annual rating of Myanmar's sincerity and success in fighting the drug
war has never been objective and has become a case of  " good intentions "
gone awry. The latest US State Department report actually points out many a
positive step taken by the Myanmar Government:

· Burmese counter-narcotic efforts in 1998 made progress with regard to
eradication, increased methamphetamine seizures, and the destruction of heroin
refineries. An improved security situation in parts of northern Shan State
permitted the Burmese anti-drug forces to conduct more vigorous law-
enforcement efforts, especially in the Kachin and Kokang Regions. The GOB
announced plans to plant opium substitute crops on 14,565 acres in the Kokang
Region during 1998-99 in cooperation with Japan.
· The Burmese and Thai governments agreed to undertake joint operations
against drug trafficking along Thailand's northern border with Burma.
· The UNDCP is beginning an integrated rural development project in the
southern portion of the Wa Region in furtherance of the Wa State Army's
unilateral decision announced in 1995 to establish five "opium-poppy-free
zone" in its area of control where opium cultivation will gradually be

· While the extent of the drug threat from Burma remained high, law
enforcement efforts, particularly on seizures of amphetamine, showed some
improvement, and opium production during 1998 showed a significant decline.
· The authorities destroyed 32 heroin refineries, close to the record of 33
set the previous year.
· Opium cultivation declined by 16 percent and potential opium production by
26 percent.

	Despite the fact that US counter-narcotics assistance to Myanmar has remained
suspended since 1998, Myanmar has not stopped cooperating with the US. It
agreed to carry out joint opium yield surveys in the remote regions of the
Shan State in 1993, 1995, 1997, 1998 and 1999. Results from the surveys
provide both Myanmar and US authorities with valuable information regarding
the scope and magnitude of the problem they face. Moreover, a fact that is
little known in the US is that a crop substitution project called,  " Project
Old Soldier " conceived and carried out by the US non-governmental
organization "OSS 101 Veterans "operated in Myanmar for 2 years, from October
1996 to September 1998. The project approved by the US Congress had been
involved in assisting 25 villages with corn and other crops as alternatives to
opium cultivation. The project withered away only because the seed money of
US$ 550,000 for the project has dried up and no additional funds has been made
available by the Congress.

	Myanmar has launched a programme for the total eradication of narcotics drugs
within 15 years. The crusade has begun. Myanmar is resolved to carry out the
task alone, if it must, but is fully alive to the fact that the problem of
drugs is global and complex and that concerted action is needed to overcome
it. It remains ready to cooperate fully with the international community.