Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Burma: Communities being “devastated” by opium addiction

Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) - Palaung communities in northeastern Burma are being “devastated” by opium addiction, with mothers and wives forced to carry the weight of growing abuse among men, a report says.

‘Poisoned Flowers’, released yesterday by the Palaung Women’s Organisation (PWO), features interviews with 88 women in ethnic Palaung communities in Shan state. The conflict-torn northeastern region of Burma’s supplies 95 percent of the country’s opium output.

In one instance, a mother told the PWO that her daughter had been trafficked for money by her opium-addicted father, while others had lost up to eight children due to disease. Another woman said that her husband’s inability to look after their child while she worked the farmland resulted in its death.

“The increased addiction rates have resulted from the regime allowing drug lords to expand production into Palaung areas in recent years, in exchange for policing against resistance activity and sharing drug profits,” it said.

“The collapse of markets for tea and other crops has driven more and more farmers to turn to opium growing or to work as labourers in opium fields, where wages are frequently paid in opium.”

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