Mon Party Releases Army Officer’s Son Detained in Drug Raid to Police

By Lawi Weng 26 April 2019

The New Mon State Party (NMSP) on Thursday handed over to police a Myanmar Army officer’s son who was among a group of drug suspects the party’s soldiers detained during anti-narcotics operations last month in Mon State’s Mudon Township, according to the party’s leader.

“We arrested eight people, but handed only one person to the police in Mudon, as he is a relative of a Myanmar Army officer,” NMSP secretary Nai Aung Min told The Irrawaddy on Friday.

The NMSP continued to detain the other seven, who were arrested along with the eighth suspect in Mudon Township last month when the organization’s soldiers found them to be in possession of amphetamines during a crackdown on illegal drugs.

“They [the Army officer’s family] said they could take responsibility for their family member. Therefore, we offered him to the police. As for our Mon people, we can take care of them,” he said.

In a statement last month, Mon State Border Affairs Minister Colonel Nay Htut Oo urged the NMSP to release all eight suspects. He criticized the NMSP for initiating its own crackdown on illegal drugs in a government controlled area, saying it violated the terms of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), to which the Mon party is a signatory.

The suspect is the son of an officer in the Myanmar Army’s Light Infantry Battalion 209 based in Kamarwet village, Mudon Township. The NMSP soldiers who conducted the crackdown on illegal drug trafficking seized 116 amphetamine tablets from him when he was detained on March 20, according to the party.

Myanmar Police said they would take action against the captive according to the law.

Police officer U Moe Lwin Oo yesterday told the Mon News Agency as the suspect was being handed over by the NMSP that the man would be questioned and sent to jail.

Amphetamine use is a widespread problem in Mon State. Nai Aung Min said his party had launched the crackdown on illegal drug trafficking in the state because it is worried about drug use among Mon youth

Before it signed the NCA in 2015, the NMSP was very active in suppressing illegal drugs in Mon State, detaining accused traffickers and meting out punishments. The action reportedly had widespread support among the ethnic Mon population.

However, since signing the agreement the group has been forced to curtail its activities, as the government sees its anti-drug actions in government-controlled areas as a violation of the terms of the NCA.

“We are just doing what we can do for our people. They [the government] do not allow us to crack down on illegal drugs in some areas, but we have continued to do so at the request of the Mon people, including Buddhist monks,” Nai Aung Min said.

The NMSP has its own judicial system in place to punish illegal drug trafficking. Those who are arrested by the party face varying degrees of punishment depending on the amount of drugs involved. However, it has been known to release young offenders back into the care of their families if the parents can take responsibility for them.