Inproduction - Photography Collective

Pat Jasan

Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin state – Myanmar’s most northern region, has been an important trading town between Burma, China and India for centuries.

The Kachin people have long struggled for independence. They suffer the war between the Kachin Independence Army and the Burmese Military as well as poverty and an international trade in opium and heroin. Due to its cheap availability and poor employment opportunities; many Kachin have become addicted to heroin with an estimated one in every household regularly using the drug.

In response to the drugs problem in Kachin, ‘Pat Jasan’ – a coalition of local Baptist, Catholic and other Protestant churches declared ‘D-Day’ – April 25th, 2014. This signified the launch of a community based organisation with the “goal of eradicating all drugs from the Kachin population”.

Through a network of faith-based rehabilitation centres, Pat Jasan force drug users to beat addiction. Their ‘clients’ spend three to six months partaking in daily exercise, prayer and education in an attempt to replace their drug addiction with religion. The organisation is fully funded from donations from local churches and is manned by volunteers.

However, despite the seemingly bright community based effort to help drug users, Pat Jasan’s methods have been criticised as harsh. The group have no legal authority yet arrest and detain drug users often from their homes. They are the locked in makeshift ‘detox rooms’ for two weeks where they receive no medical care to help with the withdrawal symptoms.

These images tell the story of Pat Jasan’s rehab centres in Myitkyina.

author: David Shaw