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In Pictures: Myanmar's opium hotspot
A rebel militia in Myanmar's Shan state has been cracking down on drug production.
Last updated: 23 Apr 2014 12:32
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In the remote mountains of Myanmar's Shan state, a rebel militia near the Chinese border has since 2012 been waging a hidden war against an enemy that possesses no weapons or army.

The enemy? Opium poppies, the plant from which morphine and heroin are synthesised. This rugged area is well-known as a hotspot for the cultivation of poppies. The practise is profitable for some producers, but comes at a high social cost.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the cultivation of opium in Myanmar increased by 26 percent in 2013, the biggest rise since assessments began in 2002.

Myanmar is the second-largest opium-producing country in the world after Afghanistan, and Shan State accounts for 92 percent of the country's total cultivation.

The northern part of Shan state is home to the Palaung ethnic group, many of whom have cultivated and harvested the "sleepy plant" for years. But while lucrative, the drug has been devastating the Palaung population. In some villages, more than half of the men are said to be addicts.

In response, the Tang National Liberation Army (TNLA) - an armed Palaung group - declared a war on the drug in 2012. The TNLA introduced prohibition laws in Palaung areas under their control, and today cultivating and selling drugs is strictly prohibited.

The TNLA claims to have 1,500 soldiers, who this year were ordered to destroy poppy fields during the harvest season. The commanders have accused the area's ethnic Chinese minority of cultivating poppy fields and working in collusion with local militias and Myanmar's army.

The TNLA's goal is to replace the poppy fields with other crops, like corn and tea. But the process has to be carried out gradually, because poppies are a major source of income for the peasants.


/Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera

An officer with the Tang National Liberation Army (TNLA) holds a bunch of poppy flowers. Fifteen soldiers under his command destroyed a field of poppy plants in 40 minutes.



/Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera
When the TNLA seizes a large quantity of opium, it often burns it in public to draw attention to its war on drugs.


/Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera
A TNLA commander prepares the distribution of new AK-47 assault rifles at a base camp.


/Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera
The TNLA started a drug eradication campaign in 2012, destroying opium fields and punishing drug addicts and traffickers. Above, a TNLA soldier naps in his hut.


/Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera

TNLA soldiers relax by watching a movie at a base camp. The group's strategy is based on mobility, with no permanent headquarters and small groups of soldiers constantly on the move.



/Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera
Tar Khoure Nyan, a high-ranking TNLA officer, speaks with a villager in northern Shan state.


/Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera

TNLA soldiers leave the forest after destroying a poppy field. Poppy leaves, which are innocuous, were collected to be used in a soup.



/Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera
The milky fluid seeping out from cuts in the unripe poppy is scraped off and air-dried to produce opium.


/Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera
Aikun, a 29-year-old Palaung man, smokes an opium pipe in his bamboo hut. By smoking, he risks imprisonment by the TNLA.


/Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera

Two young Palaung villagers who were caught smoking methamphetamine by the TNLA. They will spend two weeks inside a rough wooden cell.



/Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera

Opium and heroin are in high demand, are very profitable to produce and require relatively little space to grow.



/Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera

TNLA has signed a draft agreement with other ethnic armed groups participating in a nationwide ceasefire.



/Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera
TNLA deputy commander-in-chief Tar Khu Lan gives a speech to encourage his soldiers.



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images:
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captions:

An officer with the Tang National Liberation Army (TNLA) holds a bunch of poppy flowers. Fifteen soldiers under his command destroyed a field of poppy plants in 40 minutes.

;*;When the TNLA seizes a large quantity of opium, it often burns it in public to draw attention to its war on drugs.;*;A TNLA commander prepares the distribution of new AK-47 assault rifles at a base camp.;*;The TNLA started a drug eradication campaign in 2012, destroying opium fields and punishing drug addicts and traffickers. Above, a TNLA soldier naps in his hut.;*;

TNLA soldiers relax by watching a movie at a base camp. The group(***)s strategy is based on mobility, with no permanent headquarters and small groups of soldiers constantly on the move.

;*;Tar Khoure Nyan, a high-ranking TNLA officer, speaks with a villager in northern Shan state.;*;

TNLA soldiers leave the forest after destroying a poppy field. Poppy leaves, which are innocuous, were collected to be used in a soup.

;*;The milky fluid seeping out from cuts in the unripe poppy is scraped off and air-dried to produce opium.;*;Aikun, a 29-year-old Palaung man, smokes an opium pipe in his bamboo hut. By smoking, he risks imprisonment by the TNLA.;*;

Two young Palaung villagers who were caught smoking methamphetamine by the TNLA. They will spend two weeks inside a rough wooden cell.

;*;

Opium and heroin are in high demand, are very profitable to produce and require relatively little space to grow.

;*;

TNLA has signed a draft agreement with other ethnic armed groups participating in a nationwide ceasefire.

;*;TNLA deputy commander-in-chief Tar Khu Lan gives a speech to encourage his soldiers. Daylife ID:
e8559b2ebca5b761ca59da99501819ea
Photographer:
;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;
Image Source:
Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera;*;Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera;*;Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera;*;Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera;*;Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera;*;Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera;*;Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera;*;Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera;*;Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera;*;Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera;*;Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera;*;Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera;*;Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera;*;Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
TNLA war against opiumhttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opiumen-ussupport@newscred.comUntitled Site10Tue, 22 Apr 2014 07:07:19 GMT http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/6185305d12b651c502ab550afc6f7d1c

An officer with the Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) holds a poppy flower. Fifteen soldiers under his command destroyed a field of poppy plants within 40 minutes.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/6185305d12b651c502ab550afc6f7d1cVincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera

An officer with the Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) holds a poppy flower. Fifteen soldiers under his command destroyed a field of poppy plants within 40 minutes.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/2d99bb724820fad31b5d649bdd1a00ef

When the TNLA seizes a large quantity of opium, it often burns it in public to draw attention to its war on drugs.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/2d99bb724820fad31b5d649bdd1a00efVincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera

When the TNLA seizes a large quantity of opium, it often burns it in public to draw attention to its war on drugs.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/035332da275bd134fbb0b87c421e5ff4

A TNLA commander prepares the distribution of new AK-47 assault rifles at a base camp.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/035332da275bd134fbb0b87c421e5ff4Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera

A TNLA commander prepares the distribution of new AK-47 assault rifles at a base camp.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/5960a6dc64aa965a6944945d5040c17e

The TNLA started a drug eradication campaign in 2012, destroying opium fields and punishing drug addicts and traffickers. Above, a TNLA soldier naps in his hut.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/5960a6dc64aa965a6944945d5040c17eVincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera

The TNLA started a drug eradication campaign in 2012, destroying opium fields and punishing drug addicts and traffickers. Above, a TNLA soldier naps in his hut.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/8c5ddae45ae3c88578ad8f4c810a4e57

TNLA soldiers relax by watching a movie at a base camp. The group's strategy is based on mobility, with no permanent headquarters and small groups of soldiers constantly on the move.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/8c5ddae45ae3c88578ad8f4c810a4e57Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera

TNLA soldiers relax by watching a movie at a base camp. The group's strategy is based on mobility, with no permanent headquarters and small groups of soldiers constantly on the move.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/e8df6d2ade1b4dd427d2ada74a9972fb

Tar Khoure Nyan, a high-ranking TNLA officer, speaks with a villager in northern Shan state.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/e8df6d2ade1b4dd427d2ada74a9972fbVincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera

Tar Khoure Nyan, a high-ranking TNLA officer, speaks with a villager in northern Shan state.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/89612dfe20b528258ae7f5ce09a56872

TNLA soldiers leave a forest after destroying a poppy field. Poppy leaves, which are innocuous, were collected to be used in a soup.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/89612dfe20b528258ae7f5ce09a56872Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera

TNLA soldiers leave a forest after destroying a poppy field. Poppy leaves, which are innocuous, were collected to be used in a soup.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/5ac667a1d4400721715e7bbf9f18ae86

The milky fluid seeping out from cuts in the unripe poppy is scraped off and air-dried to produce opium.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/5ac667a1d4400721715e7bbf9f18ae86Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera

The milky fluid seeping out from cuts in the unripe poppy is scraped off and air-dried to produce opium.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/a9d320658f006cfefeec74879caac35a

Aikun, a 29-year-old Palaung man, smokes an opium pipe in his bamboo hut. By smoking, he risks imprisonment by the TNLA.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/a9d320658f006cfefeec74879caac35aVincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera

Aikun, a 29-year-old Palaung man, smokes an opium pipe in his bamboo hut. By smoking, he risks imprisonment by the TNLA.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/e8a6d1b9a1b2b5fe4d62f5ee610843c6

Two young Palaung villagers inside a rough wooden cell were caught smoking methamphetamine by the TNLA. They will spend two weeks in jail.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/e8a6d1b9a1b2b5fe4d62f5ee610843c6Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera

Two young Palaung villagers inside a rough wooden cell were caught smoking methamphetamine by the TNLA. They will spend two weeks in jail.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/85eb775fc2e96eeadd48033175c7eb7e

Opium and heroin are in high demand, are very profitable to produce, and require relatively little space to grow.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/85eb775fc2e96eeadd48033175c7eb7eVincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera

Opium and heroin are in high demand, are very profitable to produce, and require relatively little space to grow.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/47dd807dce0d92df8ab85c7522b8618d

The TNLA has signed a draft agreement with other ethnic armed groups participating in a nationwide ceasefire.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/47dd807dce0d92df8ab85c7522b8618dVincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera

The TNLA has signed a draft agreement with other ethnic armed groups participating in a nationwide ceasefire.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/44e327b1ad60a5a423471e9ad7b6cba1

TNLA deputy commander-in-chief Tar Khu Lan gives a speech to encourage his soldiers.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/44e327b1ad60a5a423471e9ad7b6cba1Vincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera

TNLA deputy commander-in-chief Tar Khu Lan gives a speech to encourage his soldiers.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/57bf445405618abbc6783f59cd122f1cTNLA (Ta'ang National Liberation Army) soldier during the early morning cleaning of 101 battalion base camp. They are burning the dry leaves fell from the trees during the night. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/TNLA_war_against_opium/slideshow/no-caption/57bf445405618abbc6783f59cd122f1cVincenzo Floramo/Al Jazeera TNLA (Ta'ang National Liberation Army) soldier during the early morning cleaning of 101 battalion base camp. They are burning the dry leaves fell from the trees during the night.


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