Kachin Anti-Opium Campaigners Anticipate Lawsuit

By Zarni Mann 3 March 2016

MANDALAY –Pat Jasan, an anti-opium group in Kachin State, have said they expect to be sued by farmers in Waingmaw Township after they were attacked while trying to destroy their poppy fields last month.

According to the campaigners, police from the state police office in the Kachin capital of Myitkyina have questioned seven members of Pat Jasan about the incident, in which 20 members were injured after locals and militiamen fired on them.

“The way the questioned us was like they were interrogating criminals,” said Zung Ding, a Christian pastor and leader within Pat Jasan.

The campaigners who were being questioned by the police said the police kept careful records of their testimonies.

“Since we have heard that the poppy farmers are planning to sue, it is very possible that the police have accepted the case. If not, we would not be questioned like this,” said Zung Ding. “When we asked the police if the poppy farmers of Wai Moe village had filed a lawsuit against us, they gave no comment.”

“If they file a case, we have to face it,” he added.

On Feb. 25, two convoys of Pat Jasan members who were attempting to destroy the poppy fields in Wai Moe village, between Sadung and Kambaiti sub-townships, were attacked with guns and grenades by locals and militants.

The campaigners, who were not armed, have since paused their anti-drug campaigns, citing a lack of protection from the authorities.