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MYANMAR: UN HR recommendations

Subject: MYANMAR: UN HR recommendations

/* Written 11:41 pm  Dec  1, 1993 by hnaylor@xxxxxxxxxxx in igc:ai.general */
/* ---------- "MYANMAR: UN HR recommendations" ---------- */
Amnesty International
International Secretariat
1 Easton Street
London WC1X 8DJ
United Kingdom

29 NOVEMBER 1993


 A report to the General Assembly, currently meeting in New York, shows that
the Government of Myanmar is still failing to implement safeguards for the
protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms as recommended by the UN
Commission for Human Rights last March.

The report from the Commission's Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Professor Yozo
Yokota (Japan), notes that although over 1,000 prisoners have been released,
"arrests of many persons attempting to voice political dissent have been
reported in 1993". The report describes continuing violations of human rights,
including political prisoners being denied fair trials.  Despite the lifting
of some martial law decrees in 1992, severe restrictions on rights to freedom
of expression and association, the use of torture, "disappearances" and
political killings are ongoing.

        During 1993, Amnesty International documented continuing severe
violations of human rights in Myanmar. Since the beginning of the year, the
State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), Myanmar's ruling military
authorities, have arrested at least 40 political opposition members whom they
considered to be a threat to "security". These include National League for
Democracy (NLD) activists who have openly critized the SLORC's insistence on a
continued prominent role for the military in the country's future political
life. The NLD, founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi who has
herself been detained for more than four years, won over 80% of the
parliamentary seats in the 1990 general election; however, parliament has
never been allowed to convene.

        On 15 October a court in Yangon (Rangoon, the capital) sentenced 12
NLD supporters to 20 years' imprisonment. They included prisoners of
conscience Dr Ma Thida and Dr Aung Khin Sint.  Both were arrested in August
for their peaceful political opposition activities.  Dr Ma Thida, a well-
known fiction writer and medical doctor, served as Aung San Suu Kyi's campaign
assistant during the 1988-89 pro-democracy movement.  She was charged with
distributing materials which had been published by opposition groups operating
outside of Myanmar.

        Dr Aung Khin Sint, an elected member of parliament, was accused by the
SLORC of sending "threatening" letters to fellow National Convention
delegates.  Amnesty International has no evidence of any threats having been
made by Dr Aung Khin Sint and believes that he did no more than express his
views on the progress of the Convention's discussions to fellow members of the
Convention and the NLD.  According to some reports, Dr Aung Khin Sint was
attempting to encourage NLD members to oppose the SLORC's continued hold on
power and to support the cause for democracy.

        The SLORC had convened a National Convention in January in order to
establish principles for drafting a new constitution, which met intermittently
throughout the year. In a September meeting of the Convention a SLORC
representative set out "basic principles on which the fundamental principles
of the state should be based", one of which is "participation of the Defence
Services in the leading role in the country's national politics".

        Amnesty International is also concerned about continuing human rights
violations committed by the security forces against members of the Karen
ethnic minority in the context of counter-insurgency activities in the Karen
State. The security forces persist in their practice of arbitrarily seizing
civilians for porter duty or unpaid labour, often ill-treating them and
sometimes even killing them if they do not perform their duties to their
satisfaction or attempt to escape.  A farmer from Hlaingbwe township who had
himself been kicked in the chest and back during porter duty told Amnesty
International that three of his friends were killed when they tried to escape
being taken as porters in August. Civilians are also seized in their villages
or fields and accused of supporting the insurgency.  In October the army
accused a man from Hlaingbwe township of being an insurgent, covered his head
with a plastic bag, and then poured hot water into it, causing

        Amnesty International believes that it is imperative that the General
Assembly take all possible steps to urge the Government of Myanmar to take
prompt and effective action to halt these severe violations of human rights,
particularly by implementing the recommendations made to it by the Commission
on Human Rights.