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Reuters-INTERVIEW-Myanmar meeting w
- Subject: Reuters-INTERVIEW-Myanmar meeting w
- From: tinkyi@xxxxxxx
- Date: Mon, 22 Feb 1999 18:18:00
Subject: Reuters-INTERVIEW-Myanmar meeting won't solve drug problem
INTERVIEW-Myanmar meeting won't solve drug problem
06:42 a.m. Feb 22, 1999 Eastern
SHAN STATE, Myanmar, Feb 22 (Reuters) - A drugs conference in Myanmar this
week will do nothing to stem the flow of Golden Triangle heroin because the
government protects the trade, an ex-lieutenant of the country's most
notorious drugs lord has said.
Heroin production in Myanmar's Shan State had increased since ruling State
Peace and Development Council (SPDC) signed peace agreements with drug lords
like Khun Sa in 1996, Colonel Yod Suk said in an interview videotaped
recently and made available to Reuters on Monday.
``Heroin production has not been reduced yet. It's increasing because in the
past Khun Sa used to control the heroin production area, but now these areas
are monopolised by the SPDC,'' he said.
``After... Khun Sa surrendered, the Burmese army took control of that area
and now the number of refineries has increased.''
Yod Suk is a former Khun Sa underling who now heads the Shan State Army in
its opposition to the military government in Yangon.
Yod Suk claims to have some 12,000 troops under his command and to control
about half of Shan State.
He accused the Myanmar military of protecting heroin factories since
accepting Khun Sa's surrender.
Khun Sa, one of the most notorious of the Golden Triangle drug lords, is
thought to be living in Yangon under government protection. The U.S.
government believes he remains at least indirectly involved in the drug
trade through subordinates.
Yod Suk said the more than 20 countries attending Interpol's Fourth
International Heroin Conference in Yangon from Tuesday would have been
better off joining the United States and many European countries in staying
``They should not attend,'' he said. ``The international community should
know the SPDC are linked to drugs themselves.
``If the international community attends, firstly they will not get a real
insight and knowledge of what is really happening inside Burma. (Secondly)
the international community may believe the SPDC,'' he said.
Shan State, the Myanmar side of the ``Golden Triangle'' opium growing area
formed with the borders of Laos and Thailand, is one of the world largest
sources of heroin. By U.S. estimates Myanmar's 1997 opium crop was 2,365
tonnes, enough for nearly 200 tonnes of heroin.
Washington has said it believes Yod Suk himself is still in the drugs trade,
but he said he was fighting against it.
Like the Yangon government, he has staged public drug burnings to highlight
this professed commitment.
The Myanmar government denies links to narcotics production. It has vowed to
destroy all opium poppy plantations within 15 years and says the Interpol
conference will show the seriousness of its commitment to drug suppression.
Yod Suk said that in the past four years heroin trafficking routes from Shan
State had increased and more of the drug was being carried by truck rather
than by traditional mule trains.
Amphetamine production had also increased, he said.
Yod Suk said that if the international community was serious about
eradicating heroin production it should deal with all sides, not just the
``Do not rely on them, the SPDC, and do not support them. If you do, your
assistance will only reach the level of corrupted senior officials.''
The key was to ensure democratic rights, he said.
``If we have democratic rights (we would be able) to replace the poppies
with other crops and then the people would grow opium no more,'' he said.