Mon Youth and Drug Forum Releases 6-Point Plan to Combat Drug Use Among Teens

April 20, 2018

A youth and drug forum was held April 2–3, 2018, in Kwan That village, Thanbyuzayat Township, Mon State. The forum welcomed 153 youth participants and was organized by the Mon Youth Progressive Organization (MYPO) and several local youth groups.

The forum concluded with the release of a six-point plan to raise awareness among young people in Mon communities about the dangers of drug use. The six action points included: 1) provide education on drugs through dhamma talks by monks; 2) encourage the media to increase their coverage of the drug problem to raise awareness; 3) encourage ongoing education on the impact of drug use through village administrators and parents; 4) encourage civil society organizations to actively promote anti-drug campaigns in their regions; 5) establish a drug prevention and eradication group in Mon communities; and 6) encourage musicians and artists to incorporate anti-drug messages into their work.

The participants from the forum recommended establishing a drug prevention and eradication group in Mon communities. We agreed to collaborate with other civil society and local youth organizations to implement our program in various Mon populated areas. For MYPO, we have the results of our survey on [youth] drug use [in Mon communities] and we plan to meet with locals to explain our findings,” said Mi Rot Chan, chairman of MYPO.

According to research conducted by MYPO in 2017, the proportion of youth in Mon populated areas who have experimented with illicit drugs is estimated to be: 80% in Ye Township; 78% in Mudon Township; 77% in Thanbyuzayat Township; 75% in Mawlamyine Township; 72% in Kyaikmayaw Township; 75% in Paung Township; 70% in Bar Ann Township, 70% in Kyar Inn Seik Kyi Township; and 70% in Kawkareik Township.

The Human Rights Foundation of Monland’s (HURFOM) own research conducted in 2013 concluded that the approximate rates of youth in these areas experimenting with drugs was significantly lower: 40% in Ye Township; 55% in Mudon Township; 50% in Thanbyuzayat Township; 30% in Mawlamyine Township; 35% in Kyaikmayaw Township; 10% in Paung Township, 30% in Chaungzone Township; 40% in Bar Ann Township; 40% in Kyar Inn Seik Kyi Township; and 45% in Kawkareik Township.

However, while MYPO figures seem high, they echo estimated rates of drug use reported by village administrators and youths in these areas during HURFOM’s field research.

Mon populated areas of southeast Burma have seen rates of drug use rapidly increase over the past several decades, in part due to the widespread availability of narcotics and lack of a coordinated response by the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and Burma government authorities. Recently, activists have pointed to police corruption and inaction over high-level drug traffickers as primary drivers of the drug problem in Mon communities.

 

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