Karenni Civil Society Groups Demand Action on KTVs, Drugs, and Gambling

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By Kantarawaddy Times.

Twenty civil society organizations (CSOs) in Karenni State issued a statement on May 20th outlining their concerns and demands regarding the ongoing military and political situation in the state.

Among their demands, they urged the Karenni Interim Administration Council (IEC) and armed groups to address the issue of KTVs currently operating in Karenni State, along with drug use and gambling, in accordance with a clear policy framework.

The CSOs emphasized the need for a systematic policy to address these issues, warning that drug abuse and gambling could lead to increased human rights violations, sexual violence, and domestic abuse.

“We are urgently demanding policy development and implementation to tackle this situation. While there is widespread drug use and trafficking, organizations like the Karenni State Police are working to take action. Despite the KSP’s efforts to arrest and investigate drug users and dealers, as well as conducting awareness campaigns, we believe that a stronger and more systematic policy is needed to effectively address these issues. We need to establish a clear framework with guidelines for enforcement and punishment for violations,” said a spokesperson for the Karenni CSOs.

He further stressed that policy enforcement must include strict regulations to prevent sexual exploitation in the context of KTV establishments. Any violations would need to be addressed according to established policies and rules.

While there is currently no official policy addressing drugs in Karenni State, the IEC’s second secretary, U Banya, acknowledged the need for a comprehensive solution.

“The term ‘drugs’ is very broad. Are we talking about alcohol and beer, or are we referring to pills? We also need to consider gambling, opium cultivation, and even marijuana. We need to develop specific legal frameworks and policies for each of these issues. It’s not possible to address them all with one blanket policy. Regarding KTVs, there should be clear legal guidelines. Currently, there are no relevant policies or laws in place in our state for each of these categories. Therefore, this issue requires careful collaboration and coordination to reach a solution,” said U Banya.

The statement, a result of a three-day discussion in Thailand, represents the collective stance of twenty CSOs, including youth groups, women’s organizations, and groups from different sectors like health, education, and humanitarian aid.

The statement outlines six key demands for the relevant organizations and the IEC. The CSOs have urged the IEC to take action on these issues:

The IEC should meet and discussed with civil society organizations and the public in carrying out its operations, prioritize activities that protect women and children from violence; properly implement local governance mechanisms; carry out civilian safety and security measures; ensure that the interim plan includes 30% female participation; and address KTV, drugs, and gambling issues in accordance with established policy.

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