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Dr Sein Win Speech at Forum of Demo

Speech delivered by Dr. Sein Win, Prime Minister of the National 
Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, at the Forum of
Democratic Leaders in the Asia-Pacific held in Seoul, South Korea,
September 3-4, 1995



Dr. Sein Win  
Mr. Kim Dae-jung, honorable Co-Presidents, respected participants, 
ladies and gentlemen:  
I had the honor of speaking at the inaugural meeting of the FDL-AP last  
December. Since then, many things have changed quite dramatically in  
Burma and I am both honored and gratified that you have asked me to  
speak again. Before I do so, let me first bring greetings on behalf of  
our leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. As you know, she was released   
on July 10 after being under house arrest for nearly 6 years. In her  
first public statement after her release, she thanked all those who have  
worked for her release. I would like to take this opportunity to  
specifically thank the Forum of Democratic Leaders in the Asia-Pacific  
and the Kim Dae-jung Foundation on her behalf. I am glad to report that  
she is well and determined to continue her political work until  
democracy is restored in Burma.  
Various people have speculated as to why the State Law and Order  
Restoration Council decided to release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Some claim  
that SLORC release her because the generals had promised that they would  
release her in July.  They say that being honorable men, the generals  
kept their promise.  This ignores the fact that SLORC promised to hand  
over power to the winners of  the general elections in 1990. They have   
not kept that promise. Others say they kept Daw Aung San Suu Kyi under  
house arrest only as they were able to do so legally. This implies that  
SLORC is a legitimate government that does everything according to the  
law, contrary to the fact that SLORC makes and breaks any law it likes.  
The Generals have in fact stated that since they are a military  
government, they are above the law. Some say that SLORC released Daw  
Aung San Suu Kyi because there was dissension among the ranks. They say  
that some of the more reasonable general wanted her released. Whatever  
the real motivation, we can be sure that SLORC decided to release her  
only because the liability of keeping her under detention was  
outweighing the benefit of having her under house arrest. We know for a  
fact that the US Congress introduced legislation in June to cut US  
funding the United Nations Development Program if it continued with  
development projects in Burma. In July US Congress again threatened to  
introduce economic sanctions against SLORC and the World Bank was not  
responding positively to the appeal by the generals for assistance.  We  
also know that although Japan was willing to renew ODA assistance to   
Burma, it was insisting on the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Even  
ASEAN was beginning to tell SLORC that it would be easier to accept  
Burma if Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was released. It can also be assumed that  
SLORC was worried about the upcoming UN General Assembly in September.  
In general, things were not going well for SLORC internationally. Its  
campaign to raise foreign exchange through tourism was also running   
into trouble. Charges of slave labor had been raised by the 
International Labor Organization and even National Geographic, a non- 
political magazine, had in its July issue portrayed SLORC negatively.  
It is probable that SLORC took into account all these factors and  
decided that it might be better to release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi under  
controlled conditions. The generals then took steps to minimize the  
danger to themselves and to ensure that her release would give them  
maximum benefits.  First, senior officers and troop commanders in  
Burma were transferred to new positions.  This happened in July and it  
is significant because usually, military transfers are made in March.   
This step virtually eliminates any slight possibility of an uprising  
within the armed forces. SLORC was not taking any chances. Second, Daw   
Aung San Suu Kyis release was only announced internationally where it  
would have the maximum effect while domestically, nothing was mentioned.  
This had the desired effect of influencing international opinion without  
endangering SLORCs control within the country. And finally, SLORC  
stated after her release that she is an ordinary citizen with the same  
rights as anybody else. What SLORC did not announce is that the people  
of Burma have no rights. Therefore, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is now free to  
leave her house, but like everybody else, she cannot criticize SLORC.  
Otherwise she can be arrested for threatening the security of the state.  
It is very important that we understand this. Many people have not  
understood this very important point.  They rush in to interview her and  
ask her very dangerous questions about the political situation. Since  
she is not able to speak her mind as freely as she would like to, she  
answers diplomatically.  This is viewed by some to mean that she is not   
opposed to what they want to do in Burma, either to invest in a business  
or give aid to SLORC. An example of how dangerous it is for her to speak  
out is her statement that she was disappointed with Japans eagerness to  
renew ODA assistance. Soon after that, SLORC accused her of hindering  
the development of  the Burmese economy because she was jealous of the  
achievement of the generals. We need to remember that any word that   
is attributed to her which causes a setback for SLORC can bee used to  
arrest her for undermining the security of the state. However, I must  
say that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been very courageous. She has spoken  
out many times even when it was dangerous to do so.   
Given these conditions, we see her cautiously testing the limits. We are  
certain that under Daw Aung San Suu Kyis determined leadership, the  
democracy movement inside Burma will be revitalized in spite of anything  
that SLORC will try to do to prevent it.  However, we must not leave it  
to her to challenge SLORC alone. We have to help improve conditions for  
her so that she can do more. Towards this objective. Burmese elected   
representatives who were in exile, met in Sweden  in July. We were able  
to agree on how we will work together to support Daw Aung San Suu Kyis  
political initiative. The Convention of Burmese Elected Representatives  
was a very crucial meeting for the Burmese democracy movement and I  
would like to take this opportunity to officially thank our friends from  
Sweden, especially the Olof Palme International Centre, for making it  
possible.  At the Convention, we dissolved the government we had formed  
in Mannerplaw in 1990 and re-constituted a new coalition government. To  
reflect our commitment to a parliamentary democracy within a federal  
system, four our of the ten cabinet members are from ethnic states.   
The basic position of the NCGUB is one of cautious optimism. We are very  
happy that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been released and we are sure we  
will succeed but do not believe that SLORC is prepared to change on its  
own. Otherwise, it would have by now acknowledged Daw Aung San Suu Kyis  
offer of a dialogue. Other indications that SLORC has not changed are  
the following:  
*SLORC is still pursuing a policy of armed confrontation with peoples.  
In fact, it broke its cease-fire agreement with the Karenni National  
Progressive Party recently;  
*Gross human rights violations such as forced labor, forced porterage,  
and forced relocation, are still being perpetrated, especially in ethnic  
*SLORC has not lifted any of its laws restricting the fundamental rights  
of the people and it is again denying that it has any political  
prisoners under detention;  
*International agencies such as the International Committee of the Red  
Cross are still being denied access to monitor the situation. In fact,  
SLORC ignored a recent high level UN mission that attempted to encourage  
a dialogue between SLORC and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; 
*And finally, as far as we know, SLORC is determined to continue with  
its National Convention on October 24 to draft a constitution to give  
the military a major political role in Burma.  
As Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said,"I have been released. That is all. Nothing  
has changed."  
Therefore, while we see Daw Aung San Suu Kyi taking the lead, it is  
clearly the job of those of us outside to press for more freedom of  
action for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Her release has shown that SLORC is  
vulnerable to international pressure. The most useful thing we and  
others can do now is to increase international pressure on SLORC to   
seriously enter into a dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.  That should  
be our priority.   
International pressure brought about her release. International pressure  
can help to improve her circumstances. The following are some of the  
conditions that the Convention of Burmese elected representatives would  
like to see:  
*An official response from SLORC to Daw Aung San Suu offer of a  
*SLORC officially establishing a political dialogue with Daw Aung San  
Suu Kyi;  
*The immediate and unconditional release of all other political  
*The lifting of all laws restricting the fundamental rights of the  
Burmese people;  
*The declaration of a nation-wide cease-fire;  
*The cessation of all human rights violations, including forced labor  
and portering;  
*Allowing international agencies free access to monitor the situation;  
*The abolishing of the current National Convention.  
Without these taking place, it cannot be said that SLORC has changed and  
the international community should not rest until these conditions are  
met. The Convention of Burmese Elected Representatives would also very  
much like to see the Secretary-General of the United Nations fully  
implement the December 1994 resolution of the General Assembly which  
calls for him to assist in the national resolution process in Burma.   
Ultimately, without a tripartite dialogue amongst the Burmese military  
led by SLORC the democracy movement led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and  
Burmas ethnic leaders, we will not be able to solve Burmas problems.  
In closing I would like to request each and every one of you to continue  
supporting our work. There is still a lot to be done to create the right  
atmosphere in which Daw Aung San Suu Kyi can act freely.  This is just  
the beginning.  Please stay with us.  We all have a long and dangerous  
way to go. We need our friends now even more than before.