Civilians destroy poppy fields in Kachin State's Hukaung valley

A poppy field in Hukaung valley, western Kachin state, northern Burma

Motivated by the ongoing drug crisis affecting Kachin state a group of concerned Kachin say they have destroyed hundreds of acres of poppy crops in the state's Hugawng valley (also Hukaung valley). The eradication campaign began on February 12th and ran until March 2nd. Poppy fields across Danai township were targeted for destruction. Poppies in Tawang, Tarung and Gangdau Yang destroyed by a group of more than 500 volunteers who came from across Kachin state, according to La Ring, an anti-drug campaigner who took part.

According to La Ring his group's activities were met with fierce opposition from poppy growers. Some of the angry poppy growers made death threats against the group of anti-drug volunteers.

“There are a lot of people against us, at Tarung over 10 Arakanese threatened to kill us,” he said. According to La Ring despite the threats his group preserved. “By the grace of God whenever we arrived at a place they ran away,” La Ring said.

The amount of poppies being grown in the Hukawng valley has increased significantly in recent years according to local people in the valley.  Some of the poppies are being grown by farmers who lost their farms during a series of land grabbing that took place in the valley beginning in 2006.  The land seizures saw huge amounts of land taken by the Yuzana corporation for its plantations.

There are presently numerous drug eradication committees working across the state. Most of the groups are affiliated with the various denomination of Kachin Christian association in Kachin State. Many of the groups have sprouted up in the last 18 months, in response to the ongoing drug crisis affecting the Kachin community. The community groups say that the level of addition in their community has steadily increased and ruined many people's lives. Apart from destroying poppy crops some the anti-drug groups have taken it upon themselves to stop search and arrest drug sellers and users across the state.



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