Citing Lack of Protection, Anti-Poppy Activists Return Home

By Nan Lwin Hnin Pwint 29 February 2016

MYITKYINA, Kachin State — An anti-poppy group in northern Burma has called off their immediate plans to destroy poppy in Kachin State’s Waingmaw Township citing a lack of protection from authorities after a recent clash with armed assailants last week.

On Thursday, members of Pat Jasan, a hardline Christian anti-opium group, were attacked on their way to destroy poppy fields in Waingmaw Township, leaving dozens injured.

“The state government didn’t provide enough security for us. Without army protection, we can do nothing. And because there is no sign at the moment that the army will help us, we are going back home,” said Ja La, a Pat Jasan leader, on Saturday.

Following last week’s attack, Pat Jasan leaders held a meeting with the Kachin State government on Friday in the state capital of Myitkyina, according to Lamai Gum Ja, a senior official from the Kachin Peace Talk Creation Group.

During the meeting the group asked for help from the state government to continue their work. Local authorities reportedly declined, explaining that the state police force was not adequately equipped to venture into militia-controlled areas, where many of the poppy fields are located.

“So they [the anti-poppy campaigners] were advised to request army protection through the [national] government and the army chief,” Lamai Gum Ja said.

Hla Win, vice police chief for Myitkyina, was not available for comment on Saturday.