“YANGON — The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has been accused of “distorting realities of the situation on the ground” in its latest Myanmar opium survey, in a report by the Transnational Institute, a think tank based in Amsterdam.
In the report, A distortion of reality: Drugs, conflict and the UNODC’s 2018 Myanmar Opium Survey, released on March 4, TNI takes issue with accusations the UN agency makes about armed ethnic groups.
They include the Kachin Independence Organisation, a political wing of the Kachin Independence Army, which issued an open letter to the UNODC on February 15 that rejected the survey’s findings and demanded a retraction.
It says the two main opium-growing areas in Kachin are at Sadung in Waingmaw Township bordering China, where cultivation takes place in areas under the nominal control of two Border Guard Force groups under Tatmadaw command, and in the tiger reserve in Tanai Township, which is also under ostensible government control.
TNI said its sources had confirmed that there was currently no substantial opium cultivation in areas controlled by the KIO, which has for several years carried out a strict anti-drugs campaign, including eradicating opium fields.
International organizations such as the UNODC need to be aware that inaccurate reporting is a high-risk activity that could have a negative effect on efforts to promote peace and political reform in Myanmar, the think tank said.
The links between drugs and conflict were a vital issue that needed to be discussed, transparently and openly, during political negotiations to achieve peace, it said. “This is a matter of concern for all Myanmar’s peoples.”
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