Ye Township residents urge government to action over rising rates of drug use by young people

July 28, 2017

According to Ye Township residents, the use of narcotics amongst local students and young people is on the rise. Some believe this is due to poor anti-drug strategies by local authorities who fail to arrest and punish drug dealers and smugglers in Mon State.

U Aung Naing Win, secretary of the Ye Social Society (YSS), said he has witnessed first hand the dramatic rise in the use of drugs by young people and school students.

At the [Mon] state [government] school in Hangan village, the students have been caught with drugs in their hands. There were similar catches in Khaw Zar. Drug paraphernalia was also found at the high schools in Ye City,” he said.

Police mishandling of drug-related information in communities has discouraged local residents from taking action and reporting information to authorities.

We [used to] inform the police [about the presence of drugs in the community]. But they failed to protect the informers. When police reveal the names of informers, they disappear for a while. They havent been arrested by the police, but disappear for a while [for their own safety],” said a villager who wished to remain anonymous.

According to some, treating visitors to drugs has become commonplace in southern Burma. A young man told a HURFOM reporter that each time he visits his friend in Kaloh village, he is escorted to his friend’s plantation and invited to drink an unknown liquor made from leaves.

We boiled the leaves and drank the liquor. Ive visited him very often. Hes treated me with the liquor every time Ive visited him. After that Ive started to use drugs and now Im addicted to drugs,” said a young man who also wished to remain anonymous. The young man was most likely drinking kratom liquor, a drink made from locally growing leaves with opiate-like properties, the use of which has been widely reported throughout Mon State and Mon areas of Burma.

Many young drug users soon find themselves addicted and turn to small-time drug dealing or smuggling in order to be able to afford to continue using.

If youre very new to drugs, dont experiment with them. Even if youre freely provided with drugs, dont use them. Your lives will be destroyed. I regret [that Ive used drugs]. I advise that never dealing with drugs is the best,” said the young man.

In response to the rise in drug use in Ye Township, local villagers formed a Drug Elimination Team and in June 2017, in tandem with civil society organizations from Ye City, they sent a letter to the Myanmar Police Force and Mon State Minister of Security and Border Affairs Colonel Win Nyne Oo, asking them to take action.

According to official statistics from the Mon State Police Force, there were 125 drug-related cases between January to June 2017, with 210 males and 17 females arrested and charged with drug-related offences.


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