Over 30 members of the Christian anti-drug group known as “Pat Jasan” were injured, after they were ambushed and attacked by assailants carrying guns, machetes, grenades and slingshots. The Christians were working to destroy poppy fields near the Htan Mo Kham and Sinjiang villages, in the Kachin state of Burma (Myanmar), on 25th February.
29 members of the group were in hospital, as Tan Goon, head of Pat Jasan for Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state said: “Some were shot, some were wounded in mine and bomb blasts, some were beaten and hit with stones.”
Pat Jasan activists had camped near the fields ready to begin clearing them of the poppy crop, but were being held back by the authorities. Then, on 23rd February, they were granted approval to proceed and around 3,000 group members were accompanied by police as they destroyed the poppies.
The Christians’ campaign to clear the poppy fields has been met with violent resistance from farmers, local militias and corrupt officials, who gain from the extremely lucrative trade in opium. A 2011 UN opium survey revealed that a hectare of poppies is nine to 15 times more profitable than the same coverage of rice.
The immense profitability of the poppy fields only increases the risk to Christian activists who want to stamp out the scourge of heroin addiction among the Kachin population.
Most of Pat Jasan’s activists are ethnic Kachin, a Christian-majority ethnic minority group. The group was founded two years ago by Christians who were distressed by the many social problems caused by heroin addiction in Kachin state.
According to UCAN Christian news agency, since the attacks last week, the group has decided to abandon its campaign to clear the poppy fields.
Burma is the second largest opium producer in the world after Afghanistan, and most of Burma’s poppies are grown in the Kachin and Shan states. According to a 2015 report produced by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), poppies grown in Myanmar and Laos had been refined into about 73.1 tonnes to 82.3 tonnes of street-quality heroin.
- Pray for the members of Pat Jasan who were injured in this attack. Pray for healing, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit to surround them and their families.
- Pray for wisdom and courage for this group, as they seek the way forward to reduce the opium harvest.
- Pray for those who resort to violence to protect their poppies to be brought to justice.
- Pray for a move of the Holy Spirit across this nation, that will bring an end to the need to grow opium poppies, and freedom from drug addiction that destroys so many lives.
John 1 vs 4 – 5: “in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.“