Yangon, 30 January 1997
Secretary-1 of the State Law and Order Restoration Council and members, CCDAC Chairman Minister for Home Affairs Lt. Gen Mya Thin, CCDAC Vice-Chairman Minister for Progress of Border Areas and National Races and Development Affairs Lt. Gen Maung Thint, Minister for Foreign Affairs U Ohn Gyaw, the Chief Justice, the Chairman of the Civil Service Selection and Training Board, the Auditor-General, senior military officers of the Ministry of Defence, deputy ministers, Resident Representatives of UN agencies, Diplomats and Military Attaches, Special Guest Mr. Toru Iwasaki and Mr. Jeremy Milsom from the UN Drug Control Programme, directors-general and managing directors of departments and enterprises, members of the Information Committee of the State Law and Order Restoration Council, Specially invited national leaders from Kachin State Special Region-1, Shan State (North) Special Region-1 and Shan State (East) Special Region-4, officials concerned, Foreign Media Personnel, Local Media Personnel and Invited Guest.
Presentation made by Police Maj-Gen Soe Win, Secretary of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control at the Eleventh Destruction of Narcotic Drugs seized by Law Enforcement Agencies
Your Excellency, Secretary-1 and members of the State Law and Order Restoration Council, Chairman, Vice-Chairmen and members of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control, heads of departments, resident representatives of UN agencies, members of the corps of diplomats, military attaches, local and foreign reporters, journalists and distinguished guests,
I am Police Major-General Soe Win, Director-General of the Myanmar Police Force and Secretary of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control..
Let me first express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you for giving some of your valuable time, in spite of your numerous calls of duties, to attend today's significant occasion, at which seized narcotic drugs will be publicly set ablaze for the eleventh time.
Today's ceremony is in honour of the 50th Anniversary of the Union Day of Myanmar and the 52nd Anniversary of the Armed Forces Day.
Today's presentation will be conducted in three parts. In the first part, I shall highlight the activities concerning law-enforcement. In the second part, Police Colonel Maung Maung Than, Director of Criminal Investigation Department, will explain in detail the amount of drugs to be burnt today. For the third part, a short documentary on the significant drug control activities will be shown on the video.
Time and again, we were advised by various UN agencies and diplomats to utilize the drugs that we were destroying, particularly drugs like opium, morphine and phensedyl. This practice is common in other countries and accepted by the International Narcotics Control Board.
We are quite aware that it is an acceptable practice to utilize drugs seized from illegal trafficking and also fully aware of the street value of the drugs we have burned. However, we do burn them because we would like to show the world the extent of our hatred and abhorrence for the narcotic drugs, because we would like to instill in the hearts and minds of the international community the will to fight this evil menace and also because we would like to let the world know the extent of our achievements to that goal.
These drugs bedeviling the whole of mankind are being produced by the relentless greed of the few. We can find no pleasure in exploiting and capitalizing on things that are produced with evil intentions. These products are fit only for destruction and nothing else. I wish to continue my presentation with significant activities and achievements of out country during the year 1996.
The Law Enforcement Sector in our country comprises the Tatmadaw, the Myanmar Police Force, the Customs Department and it is significant that due to the fact that illicit drug production is connected to the insurgent factions, the Tatmadaw takes a leading role in drug suppression and enforcement. The significant seizures of 1996 stand testimony to the success of the leadership of the Tatmadaw.
Drugs seizures by law enforcement agencies in 1996 are as follows:
Opium 1,300.00 kgs
Heroin 504.60 kgs
Morphine 13.81 kgs
Marijuana 1,789.86 kgs
Acetic Anhydride 5,081.55 kgs
Heroin Refineries 13 Nos
Precursor Chemicals (liquid) 5,106.39 gallons
Precursor Chemicals (powder) 3,074.80 kgs
Methamphetamine 5,906,555 tablets
These are record seizures of heroine, precursor chemicals and heroin refineries during the tenure of the State Law and Order Restoration Council.
In this regard, there arises a question. Is this increase in the seizure an indication of an increase in the production of illegal drugs?
Actually, the production of illegal drugs had dramatically declined in our country. In 1996, the MTA surrendered unconditionally, which led to the occupation of the Homein region by Government security forces; administrative bodies were set in motion and multi-sector integrated development works were being implemented. Also in the Kokang region, as the local leaders requested the development of their region under the auspices of the government, similar actions were undertaken there.
In addition, the Special Region No 4 in the Eastern Shan State, Opium Free Zones were established successfully and will be totally free of poppy cultivation in 1997. To these effects, our law enforcement agencies now have access even to the far reaches of the border areas and interdiction measures could be taken to prevent the illegal drugs from being trafficked to the international markets.
Since foreign access was denied, illegal drugs detoured into the country to find new markets and trafficking route; interdiction measures had to be escalated. Hence, the increase in the seizures of illegal drugs was noticed.
Precursor chemicals used for the refining of heroin and manufacturing of stimulants are not produced in our country. Chemicals for industrial and licit use are imported legally only with the endorsement and approval of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control and the Ministry of Health. The use of such chemicals are also closely monitored and never was there an incident where these chemicals were diverted to be used for illegal purposes.
When the situation for refining heroin in the border areas became unfavourable and slight, they shifted their refineries to inner regions like Theinni but they were discovered and confiscated by our law enforcement agencies.
Similarly, also in other areas, government troops were able to search and destroy several heroin refineries and also able to intercept the supply of precursor chemicals destined for those laboratories. In this context, we could say that it was a very successful year for supply reduction and law enforcement.
The success can also be attributed to the cooperation of our neighbouring countries. It is a well-known fact that Myanmar is actively participating in the drug control efforts in cooperation not only with neighbouring countries but also with countries in the region. I wish to take this opportunity to inform you that on the 22nd of this month, Myanmar and the Russian Federation signed an agreement for cooperation to combat drug trafficking.
I would like to report about the unusual seizure of stimulant drug methamphetamine in 1996. Nearly six million tablets were confiscated at the border of Myanmar and Thailand. These drugs were interdicted on its way to the Thai market where the demand is very high. Although this is the first seizure of the kind in our country, we are aware that it has been a drug of choice and widely abused in the Asia region for over a decade. It is envisaged by the CCDAC Chairman that as the production of heroin declines, stimulants will take its place.
It is known that the precursor chemical for the manufacture of this stimulant is "Ephedrine", which is extracted from "Ephedra", a natural plant. Ephedrine is not manufactured in our country but it is a common fact that neighbouring countries manufacture and export it legally to international markets.
International experience indicates that these stimulant drugs are used by highway truck drivers, nightclub dancers, revelers and weight watchers to prevent sleepiness and hunger. But gradually they become dependent on the drug, eventually turning them into psycho maniacs causing car accidents, committing violent crimes and rape.
We have planned and prepared to prevent the abuse of these drugs through the concerted efforts of enforcement, treatment and drug preventive education.
In conclusion, please may I state that the success and progress that I have just emphasized, and which were periodically made public are real facts. Much effort and energy are the inputs for the achievement of those victories. As the old saying goes, "It is much easier said than done."
The fact that the fruit of these successes will greatly benefit not only the citizens of Myanmar but also those of the world community cannot be denied.
Finally, I would like to say that even if our efforts and achievements are not appreciated; even if no outside assistance is forthcoming; we are determined to carry on with out endeavours for the benefit of mankind.
Report presented by Police Colonel Maung Maung Than, Director of the Criminal Investigation Department and Member of the Work Committee for Drug Abuse Control
I am honoured to be allowed to carry on with the second part of the report. I am Police Colonel Maung Maung Than, Director of the Criminal Investigation Department, Myanmar Police Force, and member of the Law Enforcement Sector of CCDAC.
The Myanmar Defense Services, the Myanmar Police Force and the Customs Department, in their line of duty to eradicate drug abuse in our country, has confiscated a substantial amount of narcotic drugs, which were handed over to CID after the trial of cases in court. I will first present to you the list of narcotic drugs soon to be set ablaze for the eleventh time in your esteemed presence:
Opium 766.073 kg
Heroin 424.364 kg
Opium oil 27.663 kg
Liquid opium 2.004 kg
Morphine 1.136 kg
Marijuana 164.337 kg
Phensedyl 1,354.675 litres
Cough mixtures containing opium 181.71 litres
Injections containing opium 272 ampules
Mitragyna speciosa 0.848 kg
Stimulants (Amphetamine) 5,285,081 tabs
Now I will read out the accumulated list of narcotic drugs already destroyed in the ten previous occasions plus those to be destroyed today.
Opium 11,912.825 kg
Heroin 1,961.657 kg
Opium Oil 109.694 kg
Liquid opium 119.892 kg
Morphine 64.571 kg
Marijuana 4,246.505 kg
Phensedyl 26,525.574 litres
Cough mixtures containing opium 854.005 litres
Injections containing opium 1,225 ampules
Mitragyna speciosa 2.414 kg
Stimulants (Amphetamine) 5,285,081 tabs
Please feel free to inspect the seized drugs displayed before you prior to torching these drugs with your own hands. I will now cut my report short for the great event, with a solemn promise that drugs seized in the future will be similarly dealt with.
Thank you very much.
Then, a video documentary on significant activities of combating narcotic drugs was shown.
Questions asked by local and foreign journalists were answered by CCDAC Secretary Police Maj-Gen Soe Win, Joint Secretary Police Col Ngwe Soe Tun, CCDAC member Col Kyaw Thein and Head of Yangon Drug Dependency Treatment and Research Centre Dr Ba Thaung.
It was said in their replies that Myanmar had spent K 5,000 million on combating narcotic drugs; there were more than 57,000 registered addicts of whom 62 per cent were heroin addicts and 28 per cent opium addicts; for legally imported chemicals used in refining drugs, there was proper monitoring at every stage from the time prior to importing them up to the time of using them; the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) had come to inspect the monitoring in Myanmar and accepted it with satisfaction. There had been no transformation into illegal uses, there had been no firm evidence of producing stimulants in Myanmar; it was difficult to tell which organization or which persons were leading and producing the narcotic drugs; it was probable that they proceeding with outside assistance; successes had been achieved due to the momentum of activities raised by the law enforcement agencies; the price of heroin had risen six-fold from a street price of K 150,000 a kilo two years ago; it could be attributed to decrease of production; the programme of cooperation with China had begun with the assistance of UNDCP since 1993; especially, endeavours could be intensified in the law enforcement sector and sustained efforts would be made; there had been assistance by the United States of America as the Moe Hein Operation from 1975 to 1988; opium yield survey and sampling could be taken twice in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture following 1988 and information of narcotic drugs could be exchanged with the DEA; there was plan for cooperation in opium yield survey in this opium cultivation season; and Myanmar was ready to cooperate with any country in anti-drug activities.
Then, the Secretary-1, members of the State Law and Order Restoration Council, ministers, senior military officers of the Ministry of Defence, deputy ministers, members of the diplomatic corps, resident representatives of UN agencies and journalists viewed the exhibits.
In the presence of the guests, 27.663 kilos of opium oil, 2.004 kilos of liquid opium, 1,354.675 litres of phensedyl, 181.71 litres of cough mixtures containing opium and 727 ampules of injections containing opium were destroyed by road rollers.
The guests then made spot tests of the narcotics to be set on fire.
Ambassador of the Russian Federation Mr Valeri V Nazarov, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China Ms Chen Baoliu, Ambassador of the Lao People's Democratic Republic Mr Ly Bounkham and Ambassador of Malaysia Dato Abdul Wahab bin Harun pressed the buttons to torch 766.073 kilos of opium, 424.364 kilos of heroin, 1.136 kilos of morphine, 164.337 kilos of marijuana, 0.848 kilos of Mitragyna speciosa and 5,285,081 tablets of stimulants (Amphetamine).