News - Mizzima News
Written by Nem Davies
Thursday, 03 August 2006
Burmese military generals are actively involved in the drug trade, accept bribes and cover up for drug traffickers, said a report released on Wednesday by media in exile the SHAN.
The 64-page report titled 'Hand in Glove,' by the Chiang Mai, Thailand based Shan Herald Agency News took two and-a-half years to compile. It has accused some of the top military brass like, Lieutenant general Thein Sein, the secretary I of the State Peace and Development Council, Lieutenant General Myint Hlaing, Lieutenant General Kyaw Win and some other military officers of having their palms greased by drug lords in Shan state.
Lieutenant General Thein Sein, the former commander of Triangle Region Command with the rank of major general received an astonishing 45 assorted motor vehicles, both for his own use and as gifts for his superiors in Rangoon, said the report.
"The army leaders used to collect taxes on poppy fields, the products and make way for the transportation of chemicals to drug refineries in south western Shan State borders areas," said Sein Kyi, an assistant editor and also field researcher for the booklet to Mizzima.
SHAN interviewed about 80 people living along Burma's borders with Thailand and China which are mostly controlled by pro-junta cease-fire ethnic armed groups. "It is not unlike Afghanistan where most government allies against rebels are found to be drug bosses," the report quoted an informed local as saying.
The report pointed out that the Burmese military expansion, from 168 infantry battalions in 1988 to 528 in May 2005, is one of the factors for military units to be lured to the illicit drug business in opium, methamphetamine and Yaba. The drug lords are from United Wa State Army, Kachin Defence Army, Shan Nationalities People's Liberation Organisation, Kokang and pro-military junta militia forces.
"Many teenagers use these tablets (methamphetamine) on their way to school because they are easy to buy and cheap, " said Sein Kyi. The report claimed that opium production in Shan state is on the rise. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has, however, reported that poppy cultivation dramatically decreased in 2005 to 32, 800 hectares down from 160,000 hectares in 1999.
"The military junta showed outsiders, including UNODC, some places which are easy to reach in areas controlled by ceasefire groups in Shan state. But there are many places which are under military control in very remote areas in the mountains between the eastern Than Lwin river and Northern Namkham rivers where major poppy fields exist," said Sein Kyi.