[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]


------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"

Issue# 222
September 10, 1995


Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific
Thursday, September 7, 1995 - 9.30 AM
Room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University
September 7, 1995

Recent developments in Burma and U.S.-Burma relations in the
light of the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

     I greatly appreciate and am honored by the opportunity
to testify this morning on recent developments in Burma and
U.S. relations in the light of the release of Daw Aung San
Suu Kyi. I have been studying, writing and teaching about
Burma and Southeast Asia for four decades.  I hold degrees
from UCLA, 1952, BA with honors,; Cornell University, 1960,
Ph.D.  I was a member of the faculty at Wesleyan Univ.,
Conn. 1958-64 and later at Rutgers University, 1964-92.
Until 1992, 1 was a Professor II; upon retirement, I was
named Professor Emeritus.  I was a Fulbright Scholar in
Burma in 1955-56 and returned to Burma in 1961-62 as a
Senior Fulbright Lecturer at Mandalay University.  In
addition, I was a Fulbright Senior Lecturer at the
University of Malaya in 1967-68 and Director of the
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore in 1970-72.
Since then, I have made numerous study trips to Southeast
Asia and most recently have published widely the results of
my research.  Two years ago, in 1973, 1 was invited by the
House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Asia and
the Pacific to testify on U.S. Policy Toward Burma.


	This hearing comes at an important point in Burma's
recent history.  You are not alone in trying to understand
the reasons for and the implications of the release of Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi at this time.  Since 1992, the military
rulers in Burma, the State Law and Order Restoration Council
(SLORC), have been making changes which have not always been
understood by the outside world; were they real or
cosmetic?  All seem to agree that the military has
strengthened its control of the country but, while gaining
backing from many states around the world, has not found any
support from the people of Burma.

	Beginning with the 1992 leadership change in
SLORC--General Than Shwe replaced General Saw Maung--the
ruling junta began releasing political prisoners, allowing
the immediate family of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to visit,
calling a national convention to begin the process of
writing a new constitution, halting its war against the
Karens and other minorities and urging all of them to sign
ceasefire agreements.  It also seemed to be taking a more
conciliatory attitude toward the Muslims who fled across the
western frontier to Bangladesh by signing a Memorandum of
Understanding with the UN High Commissioner of Refugees
about their return.  Later, it appeared to be signaling a
change in its human rights policy by signing the Hague
Conventions and discussing visiting and reviewing domestic
prisoner care and rights with the International Red Cross.
It continues to open slowly its economy to foreign
investment.  Other changes have taken place; together, they
gave rise to the hope, expressed by many outsiders, that an
easing of the military dictatorship is in progress and will
be followed by the restoration of democracy and respect for
human rights.  Many would like to believe that the release
from house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi signals the beginning
of the return of power to the people.  But, is that in fact

	Is SLORC really easing up and genuinely taking steps to
return power while it seeks outside help in developing and
modernizing its economy; or is it laying the foundation for
a long-term military dictatorship disguised as a
constitutional democracy and developing the economy in
partnership with foreign investors to enrich its members and
friends at the expense of the people.  Today, there are
signs pointing in both directions.

	All discussion must begin by examining the political
situation as it stands today and its immediate background.
It can be argued that SLORC has forced nearly all of the
population under its control.  The opposition in the
heartland is in disarray and disillusioned; its leaders are
in prison, exile or missing and presumed dead.  Whatever
their status, they are silent; with the 1988 decrees
limiting public gatherings to no more than four persons and
other internal security measures still in place, and as
intimidating as they were when SLORC declared them, the
people remain fearful and resigned to a long period of
military dictatorship.

	Since 1992, SLORC has slowly revealed its plans for the
political future of Burma by assembling a national
convention to select delegates to draw up the principles for
the future constitution of the nation.  Bringing together
hand-picked representatives of social classes, political
parties and distinguished citizens, it directed them to
adopt principles which will give permanent power to the
military: 25% of the seats in each house of the future
legislature much be reserved for the armed forces; the
future president must have long military experience as a
major qualification for office; the Minister of Defence must
be a member of the military and in times of emergency the
head of the armed forces will have power to declare a state
emergency and take power; the military budget will not be
subject of approval by the elected/appointed legislature.
And, to insure that Aung San Suu Kyi will not be able to
serve as president, the delegates approved the principle
that the office-holder cannot be married to a foreigner and
must have lived for 20 continuously in the country.

	At this juncture in their deliberations, the delegates
are being coerced to adopt a political structure which,
while appearing to grant some forms of autonomy and
recognition to the minorities, will, in fact, erect a
unitary state controlled from the top and united in an
administrative web with military representatives serving in
the legislatures and councils in all subunits.

	Throughout the more than two years the national
convention has been in existence, the military has exercised
tight control, binding the delegates by rules which prohibit
discussions amongst themselves outside the general session
and committee meetings; the sessions appear to be tightly
scripted as the delegates are forced to submit all their
speeches and reports to the convenors before presentation
and are barred from discussing the issues and the workings
of the convention with the people, whom they theoretically

	In the hill areas surrounding the heartland, 13
minority groups which had been at war with the State, some
for more than 40 years, have signed cease-fire agreements. Of
the remaining two, the Karen National Union (KNU) seem on
the verge of signing while the Mong Tai Army of Khun Sa
seems determined to fight on as SLORC has not offered it any
ceasefire terms.  War between the Kayahs and the Burma army
re-ignited, despite the existence of a ceasefire agreement
because, according to the Kayahs, the Burma army broke the

	It should be noted that the ceasefire agreements are
not surrenders or peace treaties; the SLORC initiated them
in 1989, following the breakup of the Burma Communist
party.  They give the opposition the right to retain
weapons, hold its territory, manage its economy and exclude
the army from its areas in exchange for a promise from its
former enemies to halt their war against the Burma army.
All questions are put off until a new constitution is in
place and a government is functioning under it.  Thus, as in
the case of the Kayah, war can resume at any time.  It is
the inability to discuss any political question which has
blocked Karen-Burma army talks in the past and it may yet
frustrate the achievement of an agreement.

	The minority groups, who were at war with SLORC before
the national convention was convened, are not represented in
its ranks; to be added, they would have to surrender their
weapons and change the terms of the ceasefires in political
ways; thus far, none are willing to do so.

	There is a war-weariness in the hill areas working in
the army's favor.  With the military ruthlessly forcing the
villagers to serve the army as porters, to move out of their
villages and live under military control, with human rights
violations against women, men and children, many of the
minorities have come to believe that true peace based on
equality will never be achieved; they fear that they will
not be included in a democratic constitution-making process
where they can work for a federal form of government and
gain a degree of autonomy in states of their own and will be
unable to preserve and protect their cultures, identities
and ways of life.  If these fears become reality,
war-weariness will be shrugged off and large-scale fighting
will resume.  It is for these and other reasons that real
peace in Burma does not exist.

	The only vocal opposition, the National Coalition
Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB), is now without a
foothold inside of Burma.  It came into existence in
December 1990, when several elected leaders fled from the
Burma heartland to the border area and there, with the
backing of the Democratic Alliance of Burma (minorities,
monks and student exiles), was recognized as the legitimate
government until those elected in 1990 are seated in the
national parliament.  Although the NCGUB received no
international recognition, its ability to travel and raise
its voice around the world, especially at the UN, keeps
alive the issue of Burma.  In November 1993, Thailand,
operating under its policy of constructive engagement,
closed the Thai-Burma border to the NCGUB and the minority
leaders in opposition to SLORC.  Thailand's objective was to
help SLORC achieve ceasefires and peace in Burma; as a
reward, it hoped to regain access to the large cross-border
trade it enjoyed before the events of 1988.

	From its present headquarters in Washington, D.C. and
with the radio station, "Radio Free Burma", in Norway, the
NCGUB keeps alive the international struggle it is waging on
behalf of the people who elected its members to the
parliament, SLORC never permitted to assemble.

	Although SLORC's unity appears to the outside world, to
be intact, there are indications suggesting that there may
be serious divisions amongst its members.  If the divisions
are as strong as some suggest, they could have important
ramifications for the future. Since the beginning of the
changes in 1992, there has been strong rumors and some
evidence of disagreement in the top leadership.  The
failure of a hardline faction, which appears to be centered
around officers who made careers as field commanders, to
defeat the Karens after SLORC announced that it would do so
by March 27, 1992, came the ascendancy of a more moderate
faction, headed by Lt. General Khin Nyunt, who made his way
to the top through the Intelligence Branch.  This group
sought to soften the image of the military through reforms
discussed above and culminated in November 1993 with a peace
campaign aimed at the minorities in revolt. But SLORC failed
to achieve its objective and leadership in SLORC appears to
be reverting to the hardliners, now under the leadership of
General Maung Aye, the second highest ranking officer in the
military.  The defeat of the Karens in their last
stronghold, earlier this year, violated SLORC's 1992 promise
to halt its war against the minorities; the Burma army also
violated the Thai border when the Burma army and the Karen
Buddhists, who defected from the KNU and joined forces in
the campaign against the KNU, clashed with the Thais and
disrupted Burma-Thailand diplomatic relations.  The
international dispute carried over into the economic realm
Burma closed its border to Thai traders and halted the
building of the peace bridge across the Moei River--still
closed at the time of writing--which was intended to
facilitate trade between the two nations.

	Evidence for the rise and fall of the two factions is
found in the change of leaders in field commands and in the
administration in Rangoon as well as in the prominence given
to leaders on the pages of the local newspapers.

	It also must be remembered that, despite its
preponderance of personnel and weapons, the Burma army has
not done well in the field against organized armed forces;
the 1992 failure against the Karens, noted earlier, the
recent failure against the army of Khun Sa and its
embarrassment over the success of the Mong Tai Army in
overrunning and holding Tachilek--on the Burma-Thai
border--for a short while, has not matched its success in
bullying and brutalizing unarmed villagers.

	If there is growing factionalism inside of SLORC, which
reflects differences in policies as well as personnel, the
release of Aung San Suu Kyi, which will be discussed below,
may have resulted from internal rivalry and the possible
triumph of one group over the other.

  Despite the strong resolutions against Burma passed in
the UNGA, UNHRC and the endless reports of human rights
violations by NGOs, Burma relations with the outside world
continue to improve.  Even its unwillingness to comply in
spirit and letter of the UN and UNHRC resolutions, has not
harmed or interfered with SLORC's determination to pursue
its policies as it sees fit.  The UNGA 1994 resolution
called upon the Secretary General to assist SLORC in
national reconciliation; SLORC responded in the world body
by saying that the issue was an internal matter; although
the representatives of the SG have met four times with
SLORC, there is no indication that Burma complied with the
resolution.  Also, it should be remembered that while SLORC
took credit for holding discussions with the Red Cross about
access to jails and prisoners and freely check on prison
conditions, SLORC refused Red Cross conditions, causing it
to withdraw without accomplishing its mission.

	In spite of the recent border issues and clashes between
Burma and Thailand, the latter continues to hold fast to its
policy of constructive engagement, welcoming SLORC as a
guest of the host of the ASEAN Foreign Minister's meeting in
Brunei and took no steps to block ASEAN from accepting
Burma's signature on the 1976 Treat of Amity and
Cooperation, a first step toward membership.  Of equal
importance, SLORC agreed to receive an official visit by
General Chavolit, a cabinet minister in the new Thai
government who, Thailand hopes, will repair the breaches in
Burma-Thailand relations.

	Foreign investment is growing, despite the efforts of
the U.S. and others to refuse aid and loans and not
encourage private investors.  SLORC reports that through
mid-May foreign investment, at US$2.6 billion, rose from
US$2.38 billion, reported at the end of January.  Private
investors, especially oil companies, have invested large
sums and their discovery of natural gas and its sale to
Thailand promises large profits by 1998 for themselves and
their partner, MOG, the state oil company of Burma.
Thailand and other ASEAN countries have invested heavily in
mineral extraction, timbering, hotel construction,
department stores and consumer goods.  In northern Burma,
China has been the major investor in similar pursuits,
particularly in Mandalay and near the border.  It also
provided Burma with large credits to purchase nearly US$2
billion in weapons which the SLORC uses to coerce the people
and to fight against the minorities.  It has no threatening
foreign enemies.

	The foreign investment figures are deceptive.  SLORC
never speaks about the amounts actually invested and
promised.  With a currency that has a fixed rate of
approximately 6 kyats to 1 dollar and a blackmarket value of
approximately 110 to 1 and with inflation a constant, the
kyat has no real value; with Burma's international debt
estimated at $5.5 billion, its debt service obligation at
approximately 1 billion and its foreign exchange reserves
reported at a half billion, Burma is not in a position to
allow a free market to exist.  Also, with Burma's inability
to borrow money from the World Bank and other international
institutions, it cannot raise funds in large amounts through
normal banking channels and thereby is limited in its
ability to stabilize the currency, modernize the banking
system and allow international banks to function inside the
country alongside local banks.  It also is limited in making
investments on long-term infrastructure projects such as
power plants, water projects, roads and commercial

	According to the ADB Annual Outlook (April 1995)
industrial growth slowed in 1994; an IMF report in November
1994 indicated a continuous decline in foreign investment
from 1990 to 1993; more important, it found a shift from
capital to consumer goods in imports and this is reflected
by the growing number of hotels, karaoke bars and department

	Exports have been chiefly in unfinished timber,
minerals and agricultural products, suggesting little or no
growth in secondary industries and little value-added to the
raw produce or conversion to higher level exports.

	Investors whose products are directed at the local
markets, such as soft drink producers, cannot take their
profits out directly; instead, they must purchase some local
commodity, such as agricultural products or some kind of
local manufacture, and export it; the oil and gas companies,
who sell their products to foreign purchasers, realize their
profits directly from sales.  Given this pattern, Burma
resources are not fueling industrialization and long term


	It is against this background of changing policies and
activities that the release from house arrest of Daw Aung
San Suu Kyi must be seen.

	The release came unexpectedly.  After a visit by
Congressman Richardson in May to see Aung San Suu Kyi and
talk with the government about her release, he returned
certain that it not about to happen and distressed by what
he had seen and heard.

	"My trip to Burma was unsuccessful, frustrating, and
	disappointing.. .Here is my conclusion after my trip:
	there is serious repression, regression, and
	retrenchment by the SLORC in the area of human rights
	and democratization since the first of the year....

	The reasons for her release on July 10 remain unclear.
Many argue that the up-coming ASEAN meeting at the end of
the month may have been a strong influence; General Than
Shwe, the Chairman of the SLORC, met and spoke with
Indonesian and Malaysian leaders during his visit to their
countries and may have been persuaded of the need for the
Burma leadership to make a bold gesture which ASEAN could
interpret as being responsive to its constructive engagement
policy; and he may have passed the recommendation on to his
colleagues in SLORC.

	There are those who say that after nearly six years of
house arrest, SLORC could no longer legally hold her.  That
argument is valid only if one can show that SLORC is
law-abiding.  Since, from the time it seized power, it has
ruled as it liked on the basis of martial law and picked and
chose the laws on the books it wished to observe, this seems
to be the weakest of the arguments put forward.

	More persuasive is the argument that SLORC chose the
time to act when it could not be seen as the result of
foreign interference.  In addition to the rebuff to
Congressman Richardson, Gen. Khin Nyunt spoke a week before
the release and was reported to have said that the rights of
Burma's 45 million people had to come before the rights of
"any single person."  Thus, despite the resolutions of
international bodies and appeals from world leaders, the
release was timed to make it appear that it was an internal
decision and not the result of outside pressure.

	There is a second internal factor argument.  As
suggested above, SLORC is at the peak of its power.  It, no
doubt, felt strong enough to release Aung San Suu Kyi under
conditions it can continue to control.  But its power rests
on force, not willing compliance with authority.  The
question of how long this situation will last had to be
factored in: there is silent growing discontent in northern
Burma over the extent of Chinese penetration of the economy
and cultural influence in the Mandalay area.  There also is
discontent in the rural population over shortages, misrule
and abuses.  Together these suggest that SLORC had to make a
dramatic move in order to keep these forces from exploding
and to transform public antagonism into support.

	There is probably an even more compelling reason for
SLORC to have released Aung San Suu Kyi--the need for
money.  Some have argued that the Japanese tied the
resumption of aid and financial grants to her release.  They
point to the fact that Japan reported her release before
anyone else, therefore, implying that there was a linkage
between request and decision.  Without significant financial
changes, the U.S., in particular, and other powerful nations
can block the flow of funds, causing SLORC to slowly drown
in debt while economic development and progress sputter on;
the backing of small friendly nations and tourism will not
be enough to overcome the problem.  By releasing Aung San
Suu Kyi, SLORC made its boldest move.  The Japanese quickly
came forward, at the end of the ASEAN meeting, and announced
resumption of some aid and tied additional aid to further
steps toward democratization.  Burma now awaits other
positive responses.

	Finally, there is Aung San Suu Kyi's explanation,
"I think they had realized that the time was right, and
it does help that I had friends all over the world who
were working for my release.. People say that it makes
no difference, that international pressure gets nowhere
but we don't live in an isolated country anymore.. .I
think that opinion of other countries, of the
international community does matter.  And I don't think
anybody with any sense can really ignore it."

	On balance, while the military has the weapons and
holds the nation prisoner, Aung San Suu Kyi has the backing
of the people.  After seven years, this equation has not
changed; thus, in order to win the voluntary support of the
people, the SLORC needs Aung San Suu Kyi's help; without
her, they will never be able to move Burma from a garrison
to a political state.


	When SLORC released Aung San Suu Kyi, it was reported have
that her freedom was completely unconditional.  Since SLORC has
not defined "unconditional," it is well to consider her status
since July 10.  She is free to leave her house, to have visitors,
talk to the international press and to speak at the gate to any
and all at the gate to any and all who assemble.  She can leave the
country and her immediate family can visit her.  But is she free?

	Since obtaining her new status, Aung San Suu Kyi has
been exploring the limits of freedom.  She hopes it means
freedom to talk with SLORC.  In her first public statement,
she seized upon the phrase in the release order that
Gen. Than Shwe would like her help toward achieving peace
and stability and saw it as an invitation to dialogue.  She
responded her readiness to enter into discussion on
establishing "certain" principles, recognizing "critical
objectives" and "joint approaches to the ills besetting the
country..."  In a statement reported in the foreign press,
she appealed to the minorities to establish mutual trust
with SLORC,

"It is because they (ethnic minorities) do not have
confidence in the central Burmese government that we
have all these problems.. .1 feel that establishing
trust with the government, showing them that we value
them and understand their feelings would enable us to
achieve unity... In the end, if they feel they can trust
us, I think we can build a strong union."

	In these and other statements she has signaled to
SLORC that she wants to work with the military rulers and
find peaceful solutions which all can accept and is even
willing to give SLORC the benefit of the doubt.  Will this
approach open the Burma media to her words and ideas?  Will
SLORC make any gesture that it is willing to trust her to
mediate between itself and the people?

	Does freedom mean that she can travel about the country
without restrictions and organize meetings with her
followers?    So far, she has only gone outside her house
once, and that was to participate in the memorial for the
assassination of her father.  So far holding meetings with
more than four persons is unclear.  She is reported to have
seen more than that number at one time inside of her house.
It seems that so long as people come unannounced to her gate
and she calls no formal meetings, numbers do not count.  But
what if she ventures out, can she call and address meetings
of her followers?  Will SLORC allow her to visit the
minority areas and talk freely with the leaders who, until
recently, were at war with the state and now only have the
most minimal agreement with the military.  That is unclear.

	What, if any, are the limits of freedom of speech.
When she called for foreign investors to wait and see if
there are any real changes in Burma, SLORC responded by
saying, without mentioning her name, that her comments were
contrary to Buddhist principles and "much to the detriment
of the nation's interests"  It went further and said that
the remarks "ran counter to [her] usual rhetoric of
forgiveness, unity and cooperation."  A week later, Aung San
Suu Kyi seemed to have reversed herself by saying
that, "There has been a debate over how far pressure and
constructive engagement have worked.. .when economics and
politics are so closely linked, those who are involved
economically can hardly avoid being more positive in
bringing about the necessary changes."

	Does this long-distance debate suggest that she
realized that there are limits on how far she can go in
criticizing a major government policy--the encouragement of
foreign investment--or had she really changed her view on
the subject?

	Thus far, with the exception of a very brief report of
her visit to her father's tomb, reported on radio and seen
on television, there has been no word of her release in the
media.  Thus far, there have been no interviews with her by
the Burma press and the means of communications, radio and
television, have not been made available to her.  If the
international press--print, radio and television-could be
silenced inside of Burma, the people would have no
information about her status and what she has told
interviewers and reporters.

	SLORC appears to be applying the same rules to her in
regard to freedom of speech as it does to all others.  In
short, she has no unconditional freedom of speech, only
nominal free speech.

	Aung San Suu Kyi has made no public protest about these
and other serious limitations on her freedom.  In indirect
and nonconfrontational ways, she seems to be testing the
meaning of free speech as she is testing other freedoms
theoretically available to her.

	Given the emphasis she has placed on urging her
followers to remain united and not give the military cause
for worry that her party will fracture and threaten the
stability it has imposed, and given the cautious remarks she
has made about the next steps she and the people must take
in order to recover democratic popular rule, she is giving
SLORC no grounds for returning her to house arrest and
arresting the people who have rallied publicly to her side
since July 10.

	What of the freedom of outsiders, especially
journalists and diplomats, to see and talk with her?
Journalists flew in from around the world to interview and
report her thoughts with no apparent interference from the
military rulers.  SLORC may not have liked it, but the
Ambassadors of Japan and Thailand have made public visits to
her house to see her and, in the case of the latter, brought
a symbolic bouquet of roses.  But, when the Ambassador of
Malaysia tried to organize an ASEAN ambassador's luncheon
for her, SLORC said no.  Apparently, diplomats can visit her
in their independent capacity, but they cannot come as a
group as this might be interpreted as giving her a kind of
diplomatic recognition; this, SLORC will not tolerate.  It
should be remembered that much earlier, when ASEAN asked the
Philippine Foreign Minister to go on its behalf to Burma and
report conditions, SLORC rejected the visit, saying, the FM
was welcome to come in his independent capacity, but not as
a representative of an organization of States.  SLORC also
has not allowed the Special Rapporteur of the UNHRC or the
representative of the Secretary General to see her, even
though both were specifically requested to do so by mandates
stemming from the UNHRC and UNGA.

	Until Aung San Suu Kyi tests the limits further,
unconditional freedom must mean partial at best, or nominal
at the very least.


	Two weeks after Aung San Suu Kyi's release,
Asst. Secretary of State, Amb. Winston Lord restated
U.S. policy toward Burma in testimony before a Senate
subcommittee.  Its two objectives remain intact:

	1. real progress in Burma in human rights, democracy
and counternarcotics;
	2. better relations with Burma will be based on
progress in those three areas.

He also repeated, what Dep. Asst. Secretary Tom Hubbard told
SLORC a year ago, that U.S.-Burma relations either could
improve or worsen, depending on the degree of progress made
in the three areas.

	In the year between the two statements, U.S.-Burma
relations seem to be at the same place as a year ago--no
better, no worse.  There has been no real advance toward
democracy; the national convention continues to resist, but
slowly does the bidding of SLORC in drafting the principles
for a new constitution.  The people have not been asked to
approve the substitution of the national convention for the
parliament and the handpicked delegates for the elected
representatives.  In the meantime, SLORC continues to rule
by decree under martial law, as announced five years ago in
Decl. 1/90.

	Human rights continue to be violated with impunity as
political prisoners remain in jail without international
verification of their condition.  Slave labor continues in
the building of the railroad, the clearing of the land where
the Unocal-Total pipeline will be laid, in serving the army
elsewhere in the country while suffering from brutality,
rape and murder; those who are able, flee abroad.  This was
made eminently clear during the Burma army campaign against
the Karens from December through February.

	There was a decline in opium production this past year,
but it did not result from the efforts of SLORC: instead,
adverse weather conditions proved successful where all else
failed.  The U.S. partially funded a joint US-UN-SLORC crop
survey and humanitarian aid in opium growing areas, under
programs developed by the UNDP and UNDCP and approved by
SLORC.  With improved weather conditions predicted for this
growing season, there is general belief that the size of the
crop will increase, once again.

	The release of Aung San Suu Kyi was a major step
forward but, as noted above, it is unclear how free she
really is.  With other political prisoners still under
arrest and no movement by SLORC to start a dialogue with her
and her colleagues, the full import of her release is yet to
be realized.

	Amb. Lord said that the U.S. will continue to tie
genuine political reforms to development assistance and will
not change its policy of suspending direct assistance,
opposing lending from international lending institutions and
its embargo on arms sales.  In the light of Aung San Suu
Kyi's release, the U.S. will continue its dialogue with
SLORC.  In addition, it will solicit her views on the
situation in Burma and how the international community can
help move Burma forward.

	The U.S. also will give assistance to the UNDP and
UNDCP because Aung San Suu Kyi "has endorsed the development
and counternarcotics objectives of these organizations."
Amb. Lord said that, "we share Aung San Suu Kyi's view that
these and all UN activities in Burma should contribute to
promoting democracy in the country."

	Finally, Amb. Lord said that the Administration needs
time to allow dialogue to develop between Aung San Suu Kyi
and SLORC and it needs flexibility in responding to changing
conditions in Burma. It opposes unilateral trade and
investment sanctions at this time because there is no
international support for such a move.

	Amb. Lord made a reasonable case for the
Administration's need for flexibility in pursuing its Burma
policy.  The release of Aung San Suu Kyi is important but,
by itself, it does not signal real political change in
Burma.  Thus far, there is no evidence that her
"unconditional" freedom begins to approach the world
standard enshrined in the Declaration of Human Rights.  It
also is important to note that after nearly two months,
there have been no other important prisoner releases.  There
is no evidence that SLORC intends to allow the Pyithu
Hluttaw (national parliament), which was elected five years
ago, to be seated.  There is no evidence that the apparatus
of the police state, which has existed since September 18,
1988, is being disassembled.

	I agree that the Administration should be in a position
to respond, once the local situation becomes clearer.  But,
U.S.-Burma relations should not be seen as a trading
match--for each move Burma makes which appears to lead to
popular democratic rule, the U.S. will give something in
return.  Since 1988, U.S. administrations have followed a
single policy toward Burma; the Administrations have said
repeatedly what they expect to see occur in Burma and
Amb. Lord restated that in his last appearance before the
Senate.  The U.S. must see real change toward democracy;
individual acts which gain world attention, but make no
meaningful change in the political system or relieve the
burden of oppression from the backs of the people are not
moves toward democracy.  When meaningful change occurs, the
U.S. should react, but not before.

	The answer to change in Burma is money.  SLORC has none
and having given away natural resources at bargain-basement
prices, having allowed the Chinese to establish a commanding
position through selling arms and consumer goods, acquiring
property in northern Burma and a dominant position over
portions of the economy, it still has none.  Asian investors
have promised that tourism will bring money and oil
companies assure SLORC that, once gas begins to flow to
foreign purchasers, money will follow.  In the meantime, the
U.S. and other nations which find SLORC's rule abhorrent
have a money weapon which they have only partially used.
Blocking Burma from securing large loans from international
financial institutions has limited SLORC from revaluing its
currency and remodeling its banking system to enable the
nation to participate fully in the world financial system.
It was reassuring to hear Amb. Lord say,

"In the absence of genuine political reforms in Burma,
we do not believe it is appropriate to resume
development assistance, restore GSP benefits or resume
Eximbank and OPIC programs."

	The U.S. should do more; the Congress and the President
should call upon the American business community and
businesses in other democratic states to voluntarily halt
their investments, grants and loans to Burma, until
democratic government is restored and human rights are
recognized.  All businesses will not comply, but many of the
larger ones will respond if they are convinced that it is in
the national interest.

	Finally, we should support the Administration's policy
of offering steady and clear support for Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi's efforts to enter into dialogue with SLORC on the
questions of national reconciliation, the restoration of
democratic civilian government, the end of human rights
abuses, narcotic trafficking and attacks on ethnic groups.

	Aung San Suu Kyi is the major figure in the politics of
Burma.  She has the support of the people, she wants the
SLORC to realize that she is nonthreatening and that the
people will be patient a while longer, if real change is in
sight.  The Administration is right to focus upon her
situation, ideas and efforts and to back them in ways that
will not be seen as directly interfering in internal

	But, if Aung San Suu Kyi is the key to open the locks
that SLORC has placed on the stockades that separate and
isolate the people and keep them from enjoying the political
and personal rights to which they are entitled, she needs
the help of her fellow democrats--leaders and members of her
party, nonpartisan leaders and citizens and the leaders and
members of the minorities who are silent and unable to
freely communicate with her except under very limited
circumstances.  The U.S. must do what it can to help these
people gain freedom to aid and support her as she and they
together seek a transition from dictatorship to democracy.

//end Prof. Silverstein's testimony//

Washington Director
Human Rights Watch On Human Rights in Burma

September 7, 1995

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for taking the leadership to hold this important
hearing on Burma at a most critical time. I also want to thank you for 
inviting us to testify. My name is Holly Burkhalter and I am the Washington 
Director of Human Rights Watch. I appear here today on behalf of Human Rights 
Watch/Asia(formerly Asia Watch). Since 1985, our organization has carried out 
independent monitoring of human rights in Asia, conducting investigations, 
publishing repoits, engaging in dialogue with governments, and wherever 
possible collaborating with and supporting the work of local human rights 
monitors. Human Rights Watch has consultative status at the United Nations.

In my testimony this morning, I would like to give a brief overview of the
current human rights conditions in Burma, then outline our recommendations to 
the international community and the U.S. government.

Human Rights Developments

The release of Aung San Suu Kyi on July 10, 1995, one day before the end
of her legal period of detention, was a welcome move on the part of the State 
Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). Her release comes after years of
international pressure on SLORC, including five unanimous resolutions by the 
U.N. General Assembly and numerous appeals from individual governments, 
including the United States, Japan, and members of the European Union.

The decision to release Aung San Suu Kyi was also a measure of the SLORC's 
confidence in its ability to hold down the lid on dissent. Indeed, it is 
difficult to know whether her release will lead to an improvement in the human 
rights situation in Burma, or whether it may only lead to a further 
entrenchment of the current military government. This could occur if SLORC 
succeeds in attracting increased international investment and economic 
assistance and, as a result, finds less need to respond to calls from the 
international community for fundamental change.

We believe it is certainly far too early to reward the SLORC with further 
investment and bilateral or multilateral assistance. Just two days after her 
release, Aung San Suu Kyi said. "In the long run, I think we would need 
international investment, but I don't think we should rush into this.. .1 want 
to study the situation very carefully before I can say whether 1 truly believe 
this is the right time for investment." {1}

In late July, Human Rights Watch/Asia published a major report documenting 
current human rights conditions in Burma. Even while Burma's most prominent 
democracy leader has been freed, the overall human rights situation in the 
country is worsening. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) 
recently closed its office in Rangoon after the failure of'negotiations with the Burmese government to allow the organization access to Burma's detention
centers. Offensives have been renewed against ethnic minority groups, 
including the Karenni Nationalities People's Party, which signed a cease-fire agreement with the SLORC in March 1995.   In areas where fighting has resumed, tens of thousands of villagers have been forcibly taken from their homes and 
fields to work for the army. Many have died from beatings and exhaustion.

After the fall ofthe Karen National Union headquarters in January 1995, a 
breakaway group of ethnic Karen Buddhists, which has formed an alliance with 
the Burmese army, attacked refugee camps in Thailand, killing several refugees 
and Thai villagers and abducting scores of others.

Discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities across Burma has 
increased in 1995.  Many of these communities have been forcibly relocated 
into government-controlled villages, while religious buildings and land have 
been confiscated. In Arakan State, from which 270,000 Muslims fled during 
1991-92, reports of forced labor and forced relocations of Muslims have
continued. As the SLORC has moved to attract international investment and tourism, at least two 
million Burmese citizens since 1992 have been forced to 
work for no pay under brutal conditions to rebuild the country's 

Human Rights Watch/Asia estimates that at least 1,000 political prisoners 
remain in Burmese jails, including sixteen members of parliament elected in 
May 1990. The names of the detained M.P.'s are attached to my testimony, Mr. 
Chairman. We learned just recently that three veteran politicians were 
arrested and sentenced during July 1995. They are U Tun Shwe, former diplomat 
and politician; U Thu Wai, a close associate of U Nu who worked with him to
form the Democratic Party; and U Htwe Myint, also a political activist. All of 
them are in their late sixties or early seventies. While we do not have all of 
the details from their trials, we do know that U Tun Shwe was sentenced to 
seven years under Section 5J of the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act, which 
allows for imprisonment of up to seven years of any one who "infringes
upon the health, conduct and respect of state or military organizations... or 
spreads false news about the government."

It is also worth noting that while Daw Aung San Sun Kyi has been permitted to 
meet with foreign diplomats, in early August, ASEAN ambassadors were warned 
that a lunch meeting planned with Suu Kyi would be considered as violating the 
principles of non-interference.  And a Thai non-governmental organization had 
planned to tape a speech from Aung San Suu Kyi to be broadcast at the NGO 
forum in Beijing, but the Burmese Government denied the group a visa to
travel to Rangoon for that purpose. However, a tape of her speech was smuggled 
out of Burma and was played at the Beijing conference. In it, she stated that 
"It is fear of persecution for their political beliefs that has made so many 
of our people feel that even in their own homes they cannot live in dignity 
and security."

We believe that the SLORC must take significant action to improve the human 
rights situation in Burma, as spelled out in detailed recommendations by the 
U.N. Human Rights Commission.


We urge the international community to respond to the release of Aung San Suu 
Kyi by engaging in dialogue with the SLORC about what specific steps it will 
take to implement United Nation's resolutions on Burma, while at the same time 
initiating direct, ongoing contacts with Aung San Suu Kyi in order to discuss 
the human rights situation. Unfortunately, the visit to Burma by the
Assistant Secretary General, Alvaro DeSoto, in mid-August was not particularly 
successful, as he was unable to meet with the SLORC Secretary, Khin Nyunt. He 
did have several meetings with the Army Chief of Staff and with Aung San Suu 
Kyi. But there have been no indications that the UN team might be able to 
broker direct negotiations between Aung San Suu Kyi, the SLORC, and the ethnic 
minorities. It is crucial that Mr. DeSoto's mandate be extended when the 
bilateral Assembly convenes this fall.

Diplomatic contacts with the SLORC must be accompanied by internationally 
coordinated measures to continue and increase pressure on the SLORC to 
undertake fundamental human rights reforms.

Among the measures we would recommend to the international community for 
exerting pressure on the SLORC:

-- a freeze on all further private investment unless and until all forced 
labor in Burma has ended and this can be verified by independent human rights 

-- continued suspension of bilateral assistance;

-- a clear statement from the donor countries at the World Bank that 
multilateral assistance cannot be resumed until basic human rights and 
political reforms are undertaken, a decision by the International Labor 
Organization to conduct a Commission of Inquiry into forced labor;

-- a concerted effort to stigmatize China for its role as the SLORC's major 
arms provider {2}

U . S.   P O L I C Y

The United States was a leader in drafting and supporting the passage of the 
March resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Committee and should work 
vigorously at the upcoming General Assembly session to assure passage of a 
strong resolution which will be considered in December. Secretary Christopher 
was very outspoken about human rights in Burma at the post-Ministerial ASEAN 
meeting on August 3, when he urged the ASEAN nations to demand greater 
progress before admitting Burma to the association. He noted that "...problems 
continue, including grave human rights violations, massive forced labor and 
drug trafficking. We believe that the true significance of Aung San Suu Kyi's 
release depends on whether it leads to real movement toward restoration of a 
government accountable to its people. We welcome this strong diplomatic 
support by the United States in international fora, which has played an 
important role in isolating SLORC and pressing the regime for change.

President Clinton ordered a high-level review of Burma policy in mid-1993  
The review was completed in October 1994, at which time Thomas Hubbard, 
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, 
went to Rangoon to present the new policy directly to Gen. Khin Nyunt. He 
offered the SLORC "two visions of a future relationship with the U.S., either 
increased cooperation based on positive movement on human rights, 
democratization and counter-narcotics issues, or increased isolation." 
No immediate progress was announced as a result of the visit, and Mr. Hubbard 
was denied access to Aung San Suu Kyi (then under house arrest).  Burmese 
officials told him that they would continue talks with her (as of today, no 
further talks have yet taken place), and that they would allow prison visits 
by the lCRC. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) also asked to undertake 
a joint opium survey in Burma.

Since Mr. Hubbard's visit, the United States has enhanced relations with Burma 
considerably in the area of anti-narcotics assistance On June 21, 1995, at a 
hearing in the House of Representatives, the administration announced that it 
would reward the SLORC for all allowing the DEA to conduct an opium yield 
survey in December 1994 by stepping up some forms of anti-narcotics program
narcotics assistance to Burma. This decision seemed to contradict the
administration's earlier statements that without progress on all three fronts 
-- human rights, democratization, and narcotics control -- an upgrading of 
U.S. cooperation could not take place. in its March 1995 presentation
to the Congress, the administration denied counter-narcotics certification to 
Burma, as the U.S. has done every year since 1989. According to State 
Department figures, heroin production has nearly tripled since the SLORC took 
power in 1988. {3}

On June 21, 1995, the administration announced a "compromise" between those 
who wanted to hold the line and those who had argued for substantially 
increased anti-narcotics assistance. It said the U.S. would hold discussions 
with SLORC officials on drug policies, provide in-country training to SLORC 
anti-drug enforcement units, exchange intelligence information, and increase 
funding for the U.N. Drug Control Program's activities in ethnically-
controlled areas of Burma.

Meanwhile, the Administration has taken no action to impose further economic 
sanctions beyond those already in place, and it has been reluctant to in any 
way restrict or discourage private investment in Burma. The U.S. is now the 
fourth largest investor in Burma, according to Burmese government figures.{4}

The SLORC has said it expects foreign investment to reach billion by the end 
of the current fiscal year. {5}

Mr. Chairman, we believe there should be no increased anti-narcotics 
assistance or cooperation extended to the SLORC until there is a genuine 
improvement in the overall human rights situation, and an end to abuses 
committed against ethnic minorities. (We note with pleasure that the House of 
Representatives in a 359-38 vote in June passed an amendment to the
foreign aid appropriations bill prohibiting all foreign aid (including anti-
drug assistance) to Burma.

We understand that U.S. policy options are still under review, in light of the 
release of Aung San Suu Kyi. The administration's initial reaction to word of 
Sun Kyis release was positive, but appropriately cautious. President Clinton 
welcomed the news but expressed "concerned about a number of serious and 
unresolved human rights problems in Burma..."

We believe the Administration deserves credit for playing a leading role in 
maintaining the international consensus on Burma, and hope it will continue to 
do so.

As essential first steps to follow on Suu Kyi's release the ASEAN governments 
and dialogue partners should call on the SLORC to unconditionally release all 
political prisoners, and to begin by immediately freeing all detained Members 
of Parliament; to resume negotiations with the ICRC and promptly allow the 
ICRC prison access; to repeal or reform repressive laws which prohibit freedom
 of association, expression, and the right of citizens to participate freely 
in the political life of the country.{6}  The U.S. and other governments 
should also support the renewed effort by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on 
Burma, Prof Yozo Yokota, who will attempt to visit Burma this fall, and urge 
the authorities to permit him to travel without interference, and establish
an ongoing human rights monitoring presence in Rangoon. {7}

The Burmese government's continued violations of international law and refusal 
to fulfill the U.N.'s resolutions should not be tolerated by the international 
community. Unless firm steps are taken to back up the numerous diplomatic 
appeals, massive human rights violations in Burma are likely to continue.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


{1) British Broadcasting Corporation, July 12, 1995.

{2} Since 1988, China has supplied at least $1.4 billion worth of arms to 
Burma, including two deals in November 1994 worth $440 million. Beijing has 
never revealed the precise details of its arms transfer to Burma.

{3} State Department estimates: Opium production (in metric tons): 68 tons
in 1988; 190 tons in 1993.

{4} On March 9, 1995 the Burmese government published the following figures 
showing all investment in Burma since 1989: France ($1.05 billion), Singapore 
($293.4 million), Thailand ($265 million), the U.S. $203 million): Japan
($101 million.) Total SA accounted for almost all French investment it is an 
oil company in which the French Government and state-owned enterprises own 25 
percent of the voting rights

{5} Investment Target is $4 Billion,"Asian Wall Street Journal Weekly, July 10 
1995: "Despite criticism of Burma;s human rights record, foreign investors led 
by France, Singapore, the U.S. and Thailand have moved in to the resource-rich 
nation, taking advantage of recent economic liberalization."

{6} This includes SLORC Orders 2/88, 4/9l, 10/91, the 1950 Emergency 
Provisions Act, 1957 Unlawful Associations Act, 1962 Printers' and publishers' 
Registration Act, 1975 State Protection Law, and the 1908 Villages and Towns 
Act which permits village councils to order citizens to work as forced 

{7} Prof. Yokota last visited Burma in November 1994.His mandate was continued 
by the U.N. Human Rights Commission at its March 1995 meeting.


Detained Members of Parliament in Burma (as of July 1995)

U Ohn Kyaing, M.P.-elect for Mandalay Southeast-2
U Tin Htut, M.P.-elect for Einme-l
U Win Hlaing, M.P.-elect for Tatkon-2
Saw Naing Naing, M.P.-elect for Pazundaung
U Tin Aung Aung, M.P.-elect for Manalay Northwest-l
Dr. Zaw Myint Aung, M.P.-elect for Amarapura-1
Dr. Myint Aung, M.P.-elect for Kanbalu-2
U Kyi Myint, M.P.-elect for Latha
Dr. Zaw Myint, M.P.-elect for Henzada-2
U Mya Win, M.P.-elect for Ingapu-1
U Hla Than, M.P.-elect for Coco Islands
U Tin Soe, M.P.-elect for Kyauktada
U Saw Win, M.P.-elect for Htilin
U Hla Tun, M.P.-elect for Kyimyindine
U Khin Maung Swe (released May 1, 1992; re-arrested August 1994)
U Sein Hla Oo (released May 1, 1992; re-arrested August 1994)

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
 Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs

September 7, 1995

	U.S. Policy Toward Burma

>   |  Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before
>   |  the Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee on behalf of the
>   |  Department of State.  I am pleased to discuss with you today
>   |  our common concerns about the situation in Burma and explore
>   |  how we can best advance U.S. interests there.
>   |  
>   |  
>   |  
>   |  The release of Aung San Suu Kyi July 10 was a dramatic
>   |  development in Burma.  After many years of determined effort by
>   |  the United States and the international community, the
>   |  democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate was released
>   |  after nearly six years of house arrest.  As the courageous hero
>   |  of the opposition forces in Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi has earned
>   |  the support of her people and the respect and admiration of the
>   |  world for her determination and steadfastness in holding to her
>   |  principles throughout the long years of house arrest.
>   |  
>   |  Importantly, her release appears to be unconditional.  She has
>   |  been free to meet with her family, key supporters, the press
>   |  and other visitors.  In her meetings and statements, Aung San
>   |  Suu Kyi has been remarkably conciliatory and magnanimous.  She
>   |  said she personally bears members of the SLORC no ill will and
>   |  emphasizes her commitment to engage in a dialogue with them to
>   |  seek national reconciliation.  She wants to hold the SLORC to
>   |  its avowed aim of creating a multi-party democracy.  She has
>   |  emphasized that the divisions in Burma are not insurmountable
>   |  and has called for all the citizens of Burma to work together
>   |  for the good of the country.
>   |  
>   |  Aung San Suu Kyi has also called upon the international
>   |  community to remain steadfast in support of democratic change
>   |  for Burma.  As she herself has pointed out, her release is only
>   |  the beginning of what promises to be a long, slow process.
>   |  
>   |  Aung San Suu Kyi's release does not diminish our serious
>   |  concerns about human rights abuses in Burma or about the extent
>   |  to which the drug trade remains ingrained in the political and
>   |  economic life of the country.  The Administration will continue
>   |  to press the SLORC to make progress on these concerns.  Our
>   |  ultimate goal, one that we will continue to express clearly,
>   |  remains the same:  a stable democratic Burma that respects
>   |  international norms.  But we do not hold unrealistic
>   |  expectations that the SLORC will transform itself overnight.
>   |  Nor do we underestimate its intent to retain its grip on power
>   |  and to dictate the pace of change.
>   |  
>   |  
>   |  
>   |  In order to place Aung San Suu Kyi's release and re-emergence
>   |  on the political scene into context, I would like to review
>   |  briefly recent U.S. policy toward Burma.
>   |  
>   |  In November 1994 Deputy Assistant Secretary Tom Hubbard led the
>   |  most senior U.S. delegation to visit Burma since 1988.  The
>   |  purpose of his mission, which was dispatched by the President,
>   |  was to emphasize to the Burmese government the strong U.S.
>   |  interest in progress on human rights, democracy, and
>   |  counternarcotics.  He made clear to senior SLORC officials that
>   |  the United States wants to have better relations with Burma,
>   |  but stressed any improvement must be based on progress in these
>   |  critical areas of concern.  He told them that U.S. relations
>   |  with Burma could improve if the SLORC made progress in each of
>   |  these areas, but would worsen if it did not.
>   |  
>   |  Since Mr. Hubbard's visit, the SLORC has had a decidedly mixed
>   |  record in responding to the "two roads" he outlined for
>   |  U.S.-Burma relations.
>   |  
>   |  The most dramatic positive step, of course, was the release of
>   |  Aung San Suu Kyi.  She has been able to confer on an almost
>   |  daily basis with her chief advisers and to meet with National
>   |  League for Democracy officials from throughout the country.
>   |  She continues to address crowds in front of her residence on
>   |  weekends.  Some 130 other political prisoners also have been
>   |  released, including Aung San Suu Kyi's close advisers Kyi Maung
>   |  and Tin Oo.
>   |  
>   |  However, the SLORC's actions fall far short of what is needed
>   |  to end its abuses of its citizens' rights and thus to lay the
>   |  foundation for improved relations with the United States.  Aung
>   |  San Suu Kyi's release must be followed by meaningful efforts to
>   |  engage her and other members of the democracy movement in a
>   |  process aimed at national reconciliation and the restoration of
>   |  democracy.  Thus far, unfortunately, the SLORC has sought to
>   |  marginalize Aung San Suu Kyi, including keeping her from
>   |  participating in the national constitutional convention set to
>   |  reconvene in October.  That convention has been manipulated by
>   |  the SLORC to perpetuate authoritarian military rule.  In
>   |  addition, hundreds of political prisoners remain jailed, and
>   |  the SLORC continues to arrest and sentence Burmese for the
>   |  slightest political infraction.  No indigenous organizations in
>   |  Burma are allowed to function truly independently of the
>   |  government.  The International Committee of the Red Cross
>   |  closed its office in Burma at the end of July after being
>   |  unable to conclude a prison visit agreement with the SLORC.
>   |  
>   |  Egregious human rights violations continue.  Burmese citizens
>   |  are routinely rounded up and forced to carry military equipment,
>   |  weapons and ammunition for the Burmese Army.  In addition to
>   |  being denied adequate food and water, these porters are often
>   |  forced to work, at great risk, in areas of armed conflict.  The
>   |  SLORC also compels its citizens to carry out forced labor on
>   |  roads, railroads and other infrastructure projects.  We
>   |  understand the SLORC recently introduced an internal decree
>   |  calling for the suspension of forced labor by the army, but we
>   |  have yet to see indications this is being enforced.
>   |  
>   |  The SLORC's renewed military offensives against the Karen and
>   |  Karenni minorities have led to serious humanitarian concerns
>   |  and sent more than 10,000 refugees fleeing into Thailand.
>   |  The refugees have put a substantial new burden on the Thai
>   |  government and the NGO's whvernment.  The Burmese Army has also
>   |  continued to attack the Shan United Army and taken significant
>   |  casualties in an effort to regain control of the territory
>   |  Khun Sa controls.  Although not the main reason for the Burmese
>   |  Army's attacks on the Shan United Army, this has had the welcome
>   |  effect of disrupting Khun Sa's ability to traffic in drugs.  The
>   |  military attacks are part of an overall SLORC offensive to
>   |  maintain national unity in the face of longstanding ethnic
>   |  insurgencies.  However, the SLORC must still take serious steps
>   |  to deny legitimacy to other important narco-traffickers and to
>   |  end corruption.  The authorities in Rangoon are not likely to
>   |  succeed in the fight against drugs unless they find a way to
>   |  exercise legitimate authority in drug-producing areas, which
>   |  principally are those controlled by ethnic insurgents.
>   |  
>   |  In the past several years, the United States has steadily
>   |  increased our pressure on the military regime in Rangoon.  We
>   |  suspended our own economic aid program and have urged other
>   |  potential donors like Japan to limit strictly any development
>   |  assistance to Burma.  We do not provide GSP trade preferences
>   |  and have decertified Burma as a narcotics cooperating country,
>   |  which requires us by law to vote against assistance to Burma by
>   |  international financial institutions.  This and our influence
>   |  with other countries have in practice prevented most assistance
>   |  to Burma from the IMF, the World Bank and the Asian Development
>   |  Bank.  Neither Eximbank nor OPIC provides loans or insurance
>   |  for American companies selling to or investing in Burma.  The
>   |  United States has not had an ambassador in Burma since 1990.
>   |  
>   |  On the international level, the Administration has strongly
>   |  supported efforts in the United Nations General Assembly, the
>   |  UN Human Rights Commission and the International Labor
>   |  Organization to condemn human and worker rights violations in
>   |  Burma.  We have urged the UN to play an active role in
>   |  promoting democratic reform through a political dialogue with
>   |  Aung San Suu Kyi.  We refrain from selling arms to Burma and
>   |  have an informal agreement with our G-7 friends and allies to
>   |  do the same.
>   |  
>   |  These measures have had an impact on the SLORC.  While the
>   |  regime has sought, increasingly, to open the countress of
>   |  political reconciliation and eventual installation of a
>   |  democratically-elected government.  The President also
>   |  emphasized the seriousness of the unresolved human rights
>   |  problems in Burma and the humanitarian concerns connected with
>   |  ongoing military campaigns against ethnic insurgents.  Our
>   |  objective is to respond to the release of Aung San Suu Kyi in a
>   |  way to help the process of democratization and promote progress
>   |  on other U.S. national interests.
>   |  
>   |  We must let Aung San Suu Kyi and the democratic opposition take
>   |  the lead in pursuing political reform and national
>   |  reconciliation.  We should offer steady and clear support, but
>   |  obviously cannot dictate the outcome or pace of the dialogue.
>   |  Rather, we want to look for ways to promote the dialogue that
>   |  Aung San Suu Kyi is seeking with the government, as the next
>   |  logical step in fostering national reconciliation and improving
>   |  the political situation on which so much depends:  the
>   |  restoration of democratic civilian government and an end to
>   |  human rights abuses, narcotics trafficking, and military
>   |  attacks on unarmed members of ethnic groups.
>   |  
>   |  In order to encourage a political dialogue to begin, the
>   |  Administration will maintain the existing U.S. measures in
>   |  place in Burma for the time being.  In the absence of genuine
>   |  political reforms in Burma, we do not believe it is appropriate
>   |  to resume development assistance, restore GSP benefits or
>   |  resume Eximbank and OPIC programs.  Of greatest impact, we will
>   |  also continue to oppose lending from the international
>   |  financial institutions and seek, with other friendly
>   |  governments, to maintain our informal arms embargo.
>   |  
>   |  
>   |  
>   |  To underscore our support for Aung San Suu Kyi's call for a
>   |  genuine dialogue toward national reconciliation, U.S. Ambassador
>   |  to the United Nations Madeleine Albright will visit Burma
>   |  tomorrow after leading the U.S. delegation to the U.N. Fourth
>   |  World Conference on Women.  She also will travel to Jakarta and
>   |  Manila.
>   |  
>   |  Ambassador Albright's principal objectives will be to convey
>   |  U.S. views of the situation in Burma to the SLORC in the wake
>   |  of Aung San Suu Kyi's release and to reaffirm U.S. support for
>   |  human rights and democratization.  She also will meet with Aung
>   |  San Suu Kyi, other senior Burmese government officials, and
>   |  representatives of UN agencies operating in Burma, such as
>   |  UNICEF, UNDP and UNDCP.
>   |  
>   |  In her meetings with the SLORC, Ambassador Albright's message
>   |  will be clear and direct:  the United States warmly welcomes
>   |  the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, but it is essential the SLORC
>   |  begin a dialogue with her, other democracy leaders and the
>   |  ethnic minorities.
>   |  
>   |  In her meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, who has welcomed the
>   |  visit, Ambassador Albright will ask for the Nobel laureate's
>   |  evaluation of the situation in Burma and the outlook for
>   |  progress toward democracy and respect for human rights.
>   |  
>   |  Make no mistake: Ambassador Albright's visit does not represent
>   |  a warming of our relations with the SLORC.  She will carry a
>   |  tough message, and we have so informed key Asian and European
>   |  capitals.  We have strongly urged other countries to continue
>   |  to limit assistance to Burma and to join us in maintaining a
>   |  ban on IFI lending to Burma until the GOB makes significant
>   |  progress on democracy and human rights.
>   |  
>   |  We believe that Ambassador Albright's visit provides an
>   |  excellent opportunity for the SLORC to signal whether it
>   |  intends to move forward toward reconciliation and democracy.
>   |  We hope the SLORC will realize that Burma's prospects for
>   |  prosperity and stability depend on the extent to which it
>   |  respects the wishes of its people by restoring democratic
>   |  government and the rule of law.
>   |  
>   |  In her meetings with representatives of UN agencies operating
>   |  in Burma, Ambassador Albright will look for ways the U.S. can
>   |  support the work of the important UN programs there.  In
>   |  support of these goals, the Administration proposes to continue
>   |  U.S. support and funding for UNDP and UNDCP activities in
>   |  Burma.  Aung San Suu Kyi, who worked for the UN in New York at
>   |  one time, has endorsed the development and counternarcotics
>   |  objectives of these organizations.  In her first press
>   |  conference, she said she strongly supports the UN being allowed
>   |  to play an important role in all countries, including her own.
>   |  
>   |  We note that UNDP's programs have been thoroughly revamped and
>   |  redirected at meeting the urgent needs of the poorest Burmese.
>   |  UNDCP, meanwhile, is working to address the scourge of the drug
>   |  trade, an affliction for Burmese citizens as well as American.
>   |  We share Aung San Suu Kyi's view that these and other UN
>   |  activities in Burma have a beneficial effect in the country.
>   |  
>   |  
>   |  
>   |  The Administration believes that the visit of Ambassador
>   |  Albright is an important opportunity for us to stress our
>   |  concerns to the SLORC and Aung San Suu Kyi.  As it becomes
>   |  clearer how the SLORC will respond to the olive branch offered
>   |  by Aung San Suu Kyi and the visit of Ambassador Albright, the
>   |  Administration's reaction will be considered and appropriate.
>   |  I have already indicated the Administration will keep in place
>   |  the existing measures with respect to Burma for the time being.
>   |   The Administration, however, also needs the flexibility to
>   |  respond to what is clearly a changing situation in Burma.
>   |  
>   |  In the wake of Aung San Suu Kyi's release, we do not want to
>   |  restrict our options.  Increased sanctions should remain one of
>   |  those options.  But if we are to be successful in our efforts
>   |  to encourage dialogue in Burma, we must do more than penalize
>   |  the SLORC at every turn.  We must also make clear to the SLORC
>   |  that punitive measures can be avoided if they continue to take
>   |  positive steps, such as the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.  What
>   |  the Administration will do in the coming months on Burma
>   |  depends on the SLORC.  The Administration needs the flexibility
>   |  to respond appropriately.
>   |  
>   |  While the sanctions legislation under consideration in Congress
>   |  represents a serious effort to address continuing violations of
>   |  human rights in Burma, we believe it would be counterproductive
>   |  to impose sanctions now, in the wake of the Nobel laureate's
>   |  release.  While international pressure helped produce Aung San
>   |  Suu Kyi's freedom, we must now allow time for a dialogue of
>   |  national reconciliation to begin before seeking to raise the
>   |  pressure, which could have consequences opposite to those we
>   |  seek.
>   |  
>   |  We have discussed multilateral sanctions with interested
>   |  countries, and there is no support for them against Burma,
>   |  particularly in the wake of Aung San Suu Kyi's release.
>   |  Furthermore, we are concerned that some sanctions provisions,
>   |  which call for actions against third countries, might violate
>   |  our obligations under the WTO.  We would not want to be
>   |  required to take punitive action against countries on whom we
>   |  need to rely to make common cause in other ways on Burma.
>   |  
>   |  Second, we believe Congress should support continued U.S.
>   |  funding for UNDP and UNDCP programs in Burma.  As I have
>   |  already indicated, the Administration believes these programs
>   |  help needy Burmese and address the opium menace without
>   |  strengthening the SLORC.
>   |  
>   |  Finally, and while I recognize that this hearing is not focused
>   |  on narcotics matters, I need to mention that the Administration
>   |  believes Congress should not limit funding of U.S. counternarcotics
>   |  programs with Burma.  These programs are already very limited --
>   |  as is appropriate.  We believe that the minimal efforts now
>   |  underway do not undermine our human rights goals.
>   |  
>   |  
>   |  
>   |  Mr. Chairman, Congress and the Administration share the same
>   |  objectives in Burma.  We want to see a dialogue of national
>   |  reconciliation that will help lead to a new democratic future
>   |  for Burma.  We want an end to human rights abuses and the
>   |  installation of a democratically-elected government in Rangoon.
>   |   We want an end to trafficking in heroin.  Our hope is that we
>   |  will look back on the release of Aung San Suu Kyi as a turning
>   |  point in Burma's history.  Thoughtful, reasoned measures by the
>   |  U.S. Government can help make these hopes a reality.
>   |  
>   |  I look forward to continuing to work with the Committee and
>   |  other Members of Congress on these and other issues.
>   |  
>   |  Thank you.