NLD Member Under Police Guard After Calling for Govt to Tackle Drug Abuse

By Lei Lei 18 December 2019

YANGON—Police have had to provide security for a local resident in Sagaing Region’s Kawlin Township after she spoke out about widespread drug abuse in the township in a public meeting with the regional chief minister.

Daw Mi Mi Gyi, a member of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Kawlin, stressed the magnitude of drug problems in Kyun Hla Khone, a village in Kawlin, at a meeting with local residents, Sagaing Region Chief Minister Dr. Myint Naing, lawmakers and judicial officials in Kawlin on Sunday.

Daw Mi Mi Gyi presented a basket full of syringes which she said had been used for drug injection and were collected around the village. She voiced concern that there has been a lack of action against drug abuse in the village, despite the village’s close proximity to a police station and urban areas of the township, making it seemingly impossible that authorities do not notice the problem.

She said she would file a letter of complaint with the President because local authorities have taken no action. A video clip of her voicing her complaints to the regional chief minister went viral on social media.

After the meeting, she reported that on Sunday night following her testimony, somebody set fire to bales of straw near her house. She reported the incident to the regional chief minister, government officials and local lawmakers.

“The police arrived and they have been providing security for me,” she told The Irrawaddy.

She said she filed the complaint only for the sake of the futures of the children in the community, and has no intention of making trouble for the officials involved.

“There has been heroin abuse in Kawlin since I was young. It has been over 50 years now,” she said. She added that maybe the regional chief minister should organize a campaign to pick up syringes around the community, as the relevant officials are pretending not to notice the problem.

Kawlin resident Ko Lay Myat also said that drug problems in the village have become worse and many students abuse drugs in the township.

“No one dares to file a complaint or even talk about this problem because there are dangers. I am concerned about my children, and therefore sent them to Yangon [for schooling]. Even gentlemen use drugs in Kawlin,” he told The Irrawaddy.

“We have plans [to fight drugs], but we can’t reveal them. We’ll take action,” said the head of the Kawlin Township police, U Myo Thu.

After Daw Mi Mi Gyi presented the used syringes, the regional chief minister rebuked officials at the General Administration Department (GAD) and police in Kawlin Township. The video of the Sunday meeting shared on social media shows the chief minister criticizing the officials.

“Don’t you know that this is a serious problem? To the township GAD head—stand up! What are you doing? I have often called for fighting drugs as it is the top priority for the nation. What are you guys doing?”

Sagaing Region Minister for Security and Border Affairs Colonel Than Tun Aung said the authorities can take action only when they are informed about drug problems. He said he would investigate the officials involved in the case.

Daw Mi Myi Gyi served as the youth public relations officer for the Sagaing Region NLD in 1999, and was assigned to guard then-opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the time.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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