"Every Karen must be involved in political destiny"
covering burma and southeast asia
Thursday, November 15, 2018

"Every Karen must be involved in political destiny"

By Saw Ba Thin Sein Thursday, June 1, 2000

(Page 3 of 4)

Q: What is the KNU policy towards drugs, especially yaa baa (methamphetamines)?

A: From the very beginning, the KNU has been against drug trafficking and producing. Anyone found in possession of drugs is given a very severe penalty, including capital punishment. So no one grows poppies in our area. There are no traffickers in our area, but still we observe with great concern that now drug trafficking along the border area is on the rise. We know that this drug is destroying our younger generation and that it is very dangerous. Moreover, we understand that the SPDC is planning this very systematically using the ethnic Wa group to spread out in all ethnic areas. So we have to be very cautious and serious about this.

Q: We have also heard that young Karen refugees are becoming addicted to yaa baa and also that the Wa, particularly the United Wa State Army [UWSA] who reached a cease-fire with the SPDC, are moving into Karen State.

A: We found that many young Karen people have become drug addicts. This is not a good sign for the younger generation. We also received information that there are some groups moving along the border area connected with this drug problem. So we are making inquiries about this.

Q: Are they civilians or troops?

A: They are not troops, the troops cannot move like this but agents can—we don’t know who is who. We continue to investigate and make inquiries.

Q: There was a report in the Far Eastern Economic Review that Thai and former members of the British Special Air Services were involved in training ethnic Karen from Burma in order to combat drug trafficking in along the border. Is this true?

A: We have no money to hire these kinds of men. No, because we have so many friends, who are courageous and give us training since the Manerplaw days. There are some Australians and some British and we don’t have to pay these volunteers money. You can’t stop them. We need friends. . . . But this time we don’t see anyone coming. Not very recently.

Q: What is Thai government policy at the moment? Are they giving you a hard time?

A: Burma is a neighboring country. As a government it is very normal to have friendly relationships with neighboring countries. But maybe time will change this. As the situation is developing and the Thais have to change their policy from time to time accordingly.

Q: The media suggests that the Thais pressured the KNU leaders to reach a deal.

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