Tuesday, September 20, 2011

16 Opium Traffickers Released from Buthidaung Prison by President's Special Amnesty

By Takaloo
Buthidaung: 16 prisoners who were sentenced to jail on charges of opium trafficking were recently released from Buthidaung Prison in western Burma's Arakan State, reportedly as part of the president's special amnesty.

An official from the prison told Narinjara that those prisoners are Wa ethnic nationals from Shan State and they were released in the early morning last Friday, 16 September, 2011, with the special relaxation on their lengthy jail terms.

"They are Wa ethnics from northern Shan State and were jailed in Buthidaung Prison since 2005 and had a long time left to complete their jail terms, but they had to be released at 7 am this Friday after being given special reductions on their terms per orders coming from Naypyidaw. They will be sent back from Buthidaung to Sittwe and then to their homes according to the plans ordered by the central authorities," said the official.

There were said to have been arrested with nearly 1,000 opium blocks that weighed over 500 kilograms in a poppy operation that was launched in northern Shan State near the Chinese border in 2005.

The source said they were sentenced to ten years in jail under the Narcotic Law Section 19 (A) by the district court in Kyaitong in Shan State on 22 September, 2005, and transferred to Buthidaung Prison on the western Burmese border.

They served just under six years of their terms, but were released with a special reduction in their sentences according to orders from the directorate of prisons in Naypyidaw.

"They were released on the basis of amnesty order no. 28/2011 that was announced by the U Thein Sein government on 16 May of this year," added the official.

The release of the opium traffickers by the Burmese government also came a day after the US Bureau of International Narcotics had announced that Burma, already the second highest opium producre in the world, seemed to be poised to become a main source for international drug and heroin smugglers in the years ahead.

There is widespread criticism at home and abroad over President U Thein Sein's amnesty, as the amnesty was given primarily to narcotic traffickers and criminals, but not to political prisoners in the country.

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