Thai anti-drug campaignin Burma likely to backfire
The Nation - Dec 14, 2001
The Thai government has let it be known that it has allocated Bt20 million under a ThaiBurma “joint cooperation plan to suppress illegal drugs” in Toom (Burma, near Me Fah Luang) in the framework of a crop substitution project. Unfortunately some aspects of this project have not been published:
If the project goes ahead as planned, Thailand will give that amount of Thai taxpayers’ money to the Wa who have occupied the area since 1999 and produce narcotics there. This “occupation” by the Wa was in reality the expulsion of the Shan population who had been settled in that area for many generations and their replacement by the Wa as a part of the SPDC’s “four cuts policy” against minorities’ resistance to SPDC oppression.
This implies that Thailand is becoming not only an accomplice to the forced relocation of the Wa to that area (who would have liked to stay in their homes), but also to the policies of ethnic cleansing the Rangoon regime is directing against the Shan and other minority peoples.
On top of that Thailand is betraying its own drug suppression aims: the Shan State Army South (SSAS) that held the territory until 1999 has adopted a strict antinarcotics policy (no production, no trafficking, no consumption); it is clearly different from the forces of former drug warlord Khun Sa.
Because of this antinarcotics policy, the SSAS hurt the dealings in narcotics of the United Wa State Army (UWSA), and it was for that reason that the SPDC and UWSA spared no effort to drive it out of the area. As a consequence the Thai government may well end up supporting the drug producers at the expense of their opponents.