The Lost Generation
About a year ago, vivid signs appeared around town. They read “WIPE OUT DRUGS.” It was a declaration of war waged by fed-up locals in Kachin State, Myanmar. Locals contend that 80 percent of Kachin youth are hooked on heroin — the fallout from living amid poppy fields controlled by a patchwork of militias. The Kachin have a name for the addicts: “The Lost Generation.”
Since Myanmar’s opening up to the world two years ago, Christian groups have been able to organize more freely and take the drug war into their own hands. The central group, consisting of the Kachin Baptist and Catholic church, is calling themselves Patjasan, “Pat” in Kachin means “to block”, “jasan” means “ to cleanse,” together people in the area understand it as "The rehabilitation program". The signs, sponsored by Patjasan are meant to proclaim their presence in the village. They warn addicts that they are being watched.
Patjasan patrol groups identify and collect addicts using village informants and early-morning raids. They convince village leaders and parents to hand over their addicts and promise to get their loved ones clean. But with little funds to spend, all they have is cold water, massages and prayers to help these “students” in rehab. Several makeshift church rehab centers are taking in addicts they’ve collected off the streets and shackling or locking them up until the worst is over.
Other sections of Patjasan target drug dealers, ‘arresting’ dealers mid-transaction in the middle of the night, coaxing confessions, threatening to hand them over to the Burmese authorities if they don’t comply. Anyone caught with drugs gets at least five years in prison if not life.
This is the story about “The Lost Generation” and what’s being done to save them.