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/* posted Apr 26 11:10:00 CST 1995 by uneoo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx on igc:reg.burma  */
/* ----------------" HRSUB: Ko Benya Aye "--------------------- */

[Subject:  To inquire into and report on the human rights situation
and lack of progress towards democracy  in  Myanmar(Burma)  by  the
Human Rights Sub-Committee of the parliament of Australia.
        Submissions made to this enquiry   by  various  people  and
organisations are re-posted here. -- U Ne Oo ]


01 November, 1994 to MS MARGARET SWIERINGA, Human Rights
Sub-Committee, Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence
and Trade, Parliament house, Act, 2000.

Reports  of racial opressions against ethnic minorities in Burma by
fellow Burmans have been at times,  misrepresented.  They  were  in
fact,  carried  out by the military, not by Burmans as a whole. For
example, Amnesty International reported tortures, rapes, human mine
sweepers,  porterages  etc  committed  by  SLORC  to  silence   its
opposition,  not  only  to  ethnics  but also Burmans including NLD
leaders. Five hundred thousand Rangoon residents have been forcibly
relocated to further outskirt areas where none of the  basic  urban
standard  facilities are available except that of a mud flat, paddy

When it comes to the media, the reports are mostly from the  border
areas  of  Burma  where  ethnic minorities generally regard Burmese
military as the Burmans.  But  there  are  significant  differences
between  ordinary  Burmans  and  the military. The 1990 multi party
election showed out-right rejection of the military by Burmans.  In
fact,  for an ordinary person in Burma, racial background is not an
issue at all. Most Burmese understand that solidarity  with  ethnic
minorities  is vitally important to the country's existance. It was
well promoted and moulded throughout the country.

Races of this planet were defined by man made boundries, and to  be
together   is   solemnly   depending   on   mutual   interests  and
understanding of one anothers culture, without the use of force.

However by looking at the history of Burma it will explain the core
of all these problems. There are two slightly different pictures of
racial conflict:

British colonial standard of "divide and rule" had  set  up  armies
among  ethnic  Burmese.  According to statistics on the eve of WWII
only 1,893 of the soldiers  in  the  colonial  army  "Burman  Rifle
Regiment"  were  Burmans,  compared  to  2,797 Karens of the "Karen
rifle  Regiment,  852  Kachins,  1,258  chins  and  2,578  Gurakhas
(imported army).

The  first  racial  clash  occurred  when  the 1930's Central Burma
Oilfield general revolt against British rule was put  down  by  the
Karen troops and thousands of Burmese patriots died. However in the
event  of  racial  tension,  there  was  no  mention  made  in  any
historical books, of the Karen's participation.

When Burma gained independence from  Britain  in  1948,  the  first
Prime  minister  U Nu played a very good balancing act to bring all
racial armies together, having routine presidency and appointing an
army chief from the ethnic minorities. However  when  the  powerful
communist  party of Burma declared the U Nu government A Capitalist
Tool and went underground, followed by other left factions and  the
Karen  for  idependent  state  army  amid severe factional fighting
within the ruling party.

They all were waging arm struggles against the  central  government
of  U  Nu  from  all  corners of Burma. The survival chances of the
government were  very  slim  and  it  was  termed  as  the  Rangoon
Government  because it controlled only the Rangoon area. The Karens
occuied the lower Burma and advanced to the outskirts  of  Rangoon.
The  fall  of Rangoon was imminent. But, eventually it survived the
Karens were repelled and racial  tension  was  created  to  another

General  Ne  Win's  government policy of holding states together by
force has added to already existing racial tensions  in  Burma.  On
top  of that, the socialist style economy failure has also played a
crucial part of later conflicts between minorities and the army.

1962's nationalisation of the country's enterprises  has  not  only
brought  the  whole economic system of the country to its knees but
also introdced a long  and  hard  destructive  life  style  to  the
Burmese society for the following three decades.

Years of economic hardship forced the people who had most suffered,
people of the frontiers, ethnic minorities, to find an alternative;
to have their own state and run themselves. The very unique example
of  Burma  is  that  the  ethnic  minorities  can  do  so, by their
constitutional rights of "Pin Lon" signed  between  Burma  and  the
British  in  1947.  It  was  further  fueled  by  General  Ne Win's
socialist style economic mismanagement and  forced  unification  of
ethnic minorities.

Although the historic Pin Lon, the independant treaty between Burma
and Britain, has paved the way for minorities to break away if they
wish,  after  10 years of the  independance in fact, the minorities
want to be in the union if there is a proper democratic  government
in  Burma.  By demanding statehood, it means opposition to Ne Win's

The Manerplaw agreement signed by the ethnics  of  Burma  including
the  exile  government,  NCGUB,  renounced  secessionism  in future
government of Burma, was  a  historically  important  step  towards
peace  in Burma. They all realised that secessionism spelt disaster
to all of them and the future of Burma.

There are very limited sources available to monitor the progression
of Human Rights and Democracy in Burma. The international media  is
greatly restricted in the freedom of information and only a few are
permitted  to operate within the strict guidelines of the State Law
and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) .  However  the  history  and
overall  assessment  of SLORC will somehow predict what SLORC is up
to and the future of Burma as far as Human rights and democracy are

All of SLORC's members were old school military personnel and  have
had  no  experience or awareness of Human Rights and Democracy. The
1988 uprisiog has indeed, frightened SLORC immensely. At  the  same
time,  SLORC's  predecessor  BSPP - Burma Socialist Programme Party
has come to realise, after 26 years of mismanagement,  the  economy
is undeniably a disaster. It agreed to the peoples' demands of free
and  fair  multi-party  election.  Hoping  that  by imprisoning its
leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, would frighten the people into voting
for them as they had done in the past and  succeeded.  Instead  the
pro-military  party, National Unity Party(NUP) won only 2 seats out
of a total of 485 and NLD won 388 seats.

Burma's military  governmet  has  repeatedly  misled  international
communities by playing "carrot and stick games" - when the pressure
is  applied,  it  goves  in a bit for example by releasing inactive
political prisoners with undisclosed conditions.  when  the  United
Naitons  genearl  assembly  conference  was  about  to  be  held it
televised its official meeting wiht Daw Aung San  Suu  Kyi  without
releasing  the  agenda  of  the  talk and declared Cease Fire peace
talks  with  ethnic  minirities  just  before  the  monsoon  season
started.  The  ethnic  groups  under  the  banner of the Democratic
Alliance of Burma(DAB) have always been open to  peace  talks  with
SLORC but only asa unfied group. They also demand that the talks be
held in a third country and attended by international observers and
press.  SLORC  have refused to accept any of these conditions . The
military often manipulates the law to suit theri purposes. There is
no independent judicial system in the country.

According to UNHCR reports, there are still almost 200,000  Burmese
refugees  in Bangladesh, 70,000 in Thailand and 30,000 in China and
india. Also there are about 40,000 Burmese women and children  sold
into  prostitution in Thailand, which was unheard of in Burma a few
years ago.

Reports from international Human Rights Law Groups said that  SLORC
soldiers  usually  stop the buses, trains and rounded up cinemas to
arrest people for porterage. In many cases they even take children,
pregnant women and old people. YET, the  international  communities
are  patinetly  waiting  for SLORC's mercy on granting Human Rights
and Democracy to its own  citizens,  is  a  grove  shame  and  self
defeating purpose.

Cleraly,  SLORC  is  buying time for itself - whilst opening up the
country for foreign investment and selling  out  natural  resources
ruthlessly  and creating an illusion of prosperity for the country,
it simply believes that people will  forget  and  forgive  them  of
therir  sins of the degradation of humanity in Burma since 1962. At
the same time, SLORC is putting up the  National  Convention  as  a
show  case and another attempt to fool international communities of
its willingness to honour the 1990 election result.

Although  the  SLORC  has  brought  700  delagates  to the National
Convention, only 156 of the delegates are  leaders  chosen  by  the
people  in  the  1990  election.  The  rest were hand-picked by the
SLORC. (Inter-Human Rights Law Groups)

SLORC has also pressured the delegates to include a clause  in  the
constitution which guarantees the military a leading political role
in  the  future  government. Howerver, opposition alliance of Burma
argued that  SLORC  has  no  legitimacy  to  call  for  a  National
Convention what-so-ever. It is up to the delegates who were elected
in the 1990 election.

Another  prediction  is  that  SLORC and its hired public relations
firm are trying to duplicate the military dominated  government  of
Indonesia  and  Thailand  -  a  booming  economy  with  a  military
controlled government.

There are crucial differences  existing  between  SLORC  and  where
Saharto's  gavernment  was.  Soeharto's government was not hated by
the majority of the people. It had not brought  the  country  down,
from being one of the richest Asian countries to one of the poorest
in the world. Soeharto's government instead improved its economy.

Again  compared  to  the Thai government, Thailand did not kill its
own people as frequently as the Burmese  army  has  done  and  once
again was not rejected by the general public. It did not reduce its
country  to  a shanty town and further more Thailand has a monarchy
over the military and government.

There are generations  of  Burmese  people  growing  up  under  the
military  regime,  experiencing  the  degradation  of  their  human
rights, the murder, corruption, lies, cheats  and  manipulation  of
the  people,  their  loss of self esteem, independence and right to
live in peace. A result of 30  years  of  military  rule,  hard  to
forgive and forget.

Most  of  the  SLORC  leaders lack any sort of formal education and
have grown up in a failed socialist economic era of Burma. They are
well short of business sense and fnow now and are out of touch wiht
current economic trends.

They often conduct a military  style  approach  to  business  which
often   ends  up  a  disaster.  10%  of  children  under  3  suffer
malnutrition, US$200 per capita income a year and 3,500 people  per
doctor  are  some  of  the symptoms of economic failure that people
under the military rule since 1962.

People have had to rely on the black market for 80% of their  needs
to  live on. An average wage earner needs 4 time more than  what he
earns. Therefore people are forced to take part in  the  corruption
cycle  which  is controlled and manipulated by the military and its

As economically powerful countries, the World Bank and IMF continue
to refuse much needed loans for  large  scale  investments  in  the
country, SLORC is unable to fulfill the ganeral public's engagement
on the economy. ONly a handful of quick profit making investors are
now  operating  in  Burma.  Although  SLORC  opens  the country for
logging, oil concessions to foreign companies, 40-50% of its budget
is spent on military purposes compared  to  8-12%  for  health  and
education.  As  a result only the military class have benefited and
the general public are left with the uncontrollable inflation rate.
Therefore peoples' resentment towards SLORC is growing.

To deal  with  the  growing  resentment  SLORC  has  supressed  all
opposition  by  military  means  which  caused massive violation of
human rights and democracy. SLORC has also just signed a  Universal
Human  Rights  agreement.  If SLORC continue to remain in power the
situation may very  well  be  explosive.  Misunderstanding  between
Burmans and ethnic minorities could reach to an irrepairable stage.
Tamadaw  or the military has been well loved and respected by those
of General Aung San's era, but not any more. Ne Win  has  destroyed
this  reputation.  Nowadays  in  Burma, people are disgusted by the
military instead. THE SLORC MUST GO.

The fall of SLORC and the regaining of human rights  and  Democracy
would  not  necessarily bring about prosperity for the country, but
it would pave the way to negotiate and sort out  the  problems  and
obstacles in order to progress.

SLORC  by nature is a type of fuedal warlord, conquering and ruling
over others, therefore to bring down SLORC by military method would
be futile and counter productive because SLORC has been in the  war
business for three decades. Economic sanction would also prove less
effective as SLORC has isolated itself for so long and survived.

The  most  recent move of SLORC speaking to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is
an indication of a negotiated settlement with the opposition.  This
time,  SLORC  is  willing to talk; perhaps SLORC  has no more cards
left to play.  Whether  it  is  a  cosmetic  gesture  or  not,  the
international community should take advantage of the occasion.

Before  moving  on,  it  is  important to understand the history of
SLORC. After 30 years of rule, SLORC has riddled itself with  guilt
and failure. Attempts to overcome these aspects have again failed.

Unity amongst the SLORC party is very much dependent on the old man
Ne  Win  who is now 83 years old repported to be in ill health. The
loyalty of his people is purely one of  ruthless  dictatorship  and
the  Burmese  tradition  of  obedience  to your leader. However the
popularity of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the  respected  demonstrated
by  the people of Burma, to her is absolutely unmatched, as seen in
the 1990 election.

Her way of  improving  the  country  by  creating  a  harmony  wiht
material  and social values is very appealing. Many countries taday
are prioritising and achieving material wealth. As a result  it  is
creating  a  "fat pig" society; well fed and surrounded by material
wealth but little value of human nature, is becoming  a  burdon  to
our planet and no longer a slolution to our future society.

The  latest  stand point of the SLORC to try and have an Indonesian
style military power, is not a threat to the country, as resentment
of the majority of people towards the  SLORC  and  strong  descreet
support  for  Daw  Aung San Suu Kyi even within the army, will mean
much of the army will rally behind her with the rest of the  people
within a few years time.

There  the  Australian  involvement  in  a power sharing settlement
along with the ASEAN  countries  is  crucially  important  for  the
future government of Burma the region.

Written and Submitted by