Kachin anti-drug group, Pat Jason, have been destroying poppy fields in Tanai (Danai) township with the support of locals since early this year.
Naw Di, village headman for Wa Ra Zup, said he’s been helping the vigilante group destroy poppy fields around his village and in other locations in Hukawng valley. About 23 acres of opium have been spoiled.
“Some locals and drug addicts are growing the poppy plants in our area,” said the headman.
“People don’t like it when others are growing opium. God doesn’t like it either or the government! I want to urge people not to grow poppy for their survival.”
There are other crops that can be substituted for their opium plantation, he said, the poppy farmers will be fine after we destroy their crop.
Sometimes members of Pat Jasan are attacked by poppy farmers.
Nsan Naw Mai was sentenced to death and Diapha Gam given a seven-year prison sentence by the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) in 2017 for killing Pat Jasan member Lahtaw Tu Sai, 19, in 2016.
This year, over one hundred men joined Pat Jasan’s anti-drug campaign.
Sara Naw Tawng, from Pat Jasan in Danai, told KNG although the group destroys poppy fields their main focus is raising awareness and knowledge about the drug epidemic affecting Kachin State.
The majority of the opium in Kachin State is grown in areas controlled by government-sanctioned groups like the People’s Militia force and Border Guard Force in Kambaiti, Sadung and Hukawng valley, according to a report by the KIO last year.
The KIO reported there were a total of 6,918 hectares of opium discovered in Kachin and northern Shan states from 2018 to 2019.
Opium cultivation has increased in government-controlled areas in Sumprabum and Puta-O located in northern Kachin State.
The majority of drug addicts in Kachin State are Kachin, Shan, and Bamar (Burmese).