Myanmar Raps Britain, U.S. Over Drug Talks Boycott

Myanmar Raps Britain, U.S. Over Drug Talks Boycott
Posted by FoM on February 10, 1999 at 07:45:25 PT

YANGON, Myanmar's military government said on Wednesday it greatly regretted decisions by the United States and Britain to boycott an Interpol conference on heroin production and trafficking to be held later this month. 
The plan to hold the conference in Myanmar, one of the world's leading heroin producers, raised eyebrows among many diplomats and provoked condemnation by critics of the Yangon government. The Netherlands, Denmark and Norway have also said they will not attend. Yangon said Britain and the United States, as two of the largest markets for heroin in the world, had a ``special responsibility'' to take part. ``The Government of Myanmar greatly regrets the British and American refusal to participate in this important conference and urges them to put politics aside, for the sake of the millions of people around the world whose lives are theatened by the drug trade,'' it said in a statement. ``Their huge markets fuel a global narcotics trade which threatens to infect many countries in the developing world, including Myanmar,'' it said. On Wednesday a Sydney-based non-governmental organisation criticised Australia's planned participation, saying it would merely serve the propaganda interests of a ``brutal, incompetent and corrupt'' government. The Australia Burma Council said in a statement seen in Bangkok that most of the heroin sold in Australia orginated in Myanmar. ``Australia's attendance and support of this conference will be an obnoxious admission of a softening of national policy and will bring no good to the people or Burma, nor will it aid us in our bid to have a drug-free society,'' it said. In October last year Australian authorities seized 400 kg (880 lb) of heroin that came from refineries in northern Myanmar. It was one of the biggest hauls ever made. Myanmar has published a slew of rosy drug suppression statistics in recent weeks, but overseas officials working to stem a flood of narcotics from its refineries have expressed doubts about its commitment to eradicating the menace. On Wednesday, newspapers said authorities had destroyed 6,182 acres (2,472 hectares) of opium fields since November. According to official statistics, Myanmar seized 404 kg (890 lb) of heroin, 5,394 kg (12,086 lb) of opium, 381 kg (838 lb) of marijuana and more than 16 million stimulant tablets in 1998. The government says a 1998 survey showed 151,201 acres (60,480 hectares) of poppy plantations produced 665.28 tonnes of opium from which 66.52 tonnes of heroin could be produced. U.S. estimates put production about four times higher. 
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