By Kantarawaddy Times
Illegal drug abuse is on the rise after the rule of law collapsed following regime offensives and fighting with ethnic armed organisations that destabilised Karenni State and displaced the majority of the population.
The Karenni State Police (KSP), founded by police officers who joined the civil disobedience movement against the military regime, is trying to control the drug plague in Burma’s smallest state without criminalising the users.
KSP spokesperson Bo Bo said: “If we arrest them with a small amount of drugs in their possession, we don’t sentence them to four to five years in prison. We educate them about narcotics and ask them to sign a letter pledging not to do it again.”
But if they’re caught with drugs again, the punishment will be more severe, he said.
The KSP works with the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force (KNDF) and the Karenni Army, the military wing of the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), to stop people from using and selling illegal drugs.
Daniel, deputy head of the KNPP’s defence department, said they’re fighting the Burma Army and therefore hasn’t yet been able to conduct an effective operation against the problem.
However, they have formed township and district task forces.
“The KSP and our task force are trying to arrest drug traffickers and users, but we cannot cover all areas in Karenni State…We’re planning a new strategy to tackle the problem,” he informed Kantarawaddy Times.
According to KNDF, the KSP has already seized and destroyed over 40,000 methamphetamine tablets in Karenni State this year.
KNDF second secretary Mar Wi said it’s disconcerting how easy drugs are to find since the military took over in the country.
”We’re worried that our soldiers could start using narcotic drugs,” he said.