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/* posted 9 Nov 6:00am 1995 by DRUNOO@xxxxxxxxxxxx in igc:reg.burma  */
/* --------------" HRSUB: Dept. of Foreign Affairs "----------------- */

[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]


Part 2 of 3.

(v) The executive
19.  According  to  the SLORC, ministers are to be appointed by the
president from within and outside the  parliament.  As  noted,  the
home/security affairs, defence and border affairs portfolios are to
be  reserved to the tatmadaw. Moreover, the president cannot remove
a minister who is a member of the tatmadaw without  "co-ordinating"
with  the  commander-in-chief  of  the  tatmadaw. Major uncertainty
surrounds the prosed relationship between  the  executive  and  the
legislature,  notably  the  accountability  of  the  former  to the

(vi) The judiciary
20. The SLORC's blueprint provides for  the  chief  justice  to  be
appointed   by  the  president.  Other  justices  are  also  to  be
appointees of  the  president,  although  there  is  an  additional
requirement  of  consultation  with  the  chief  justice over these

(vii) Special autonomous zones
21. In addition to the autonomy granted to minorities in  the  form
of  state  such  as  the  Shan state and the Karen state, the SLORC
proposes that a special autonomous zone will be  provided  for  any
ethnic  monority  which  has  over  50%  of  the  population in two
adjoining townships. It appears that ethnic  groups  which  already
have  a  state  (such  as the Shan, Kachin and Karen) will not also
have an autonomous zone. However, ethnic minority groups which  are
unable  to  meet  these  threshold  criteria  will still, under the
SLORC'S proposals, receive a degree of representations at the state
or divisional  legislative  level,  provided  such  groups  have  a
populations  of  more  than  44,000 in a state of division (0.1% of
national population).

22. The SLORC's proposals do not seem  to  encompass  the  existing
"special  regions"  controlled  by  ex-insurgent  groups  who  have
"returned to the legal fold" under ceasefire  agreements  with  the
SLORC  which give them substantial autonomy. It is  not  yet  clear
what  will  happen  to  the "special regions"under the proposed new

23. While the SLORC's proposals outline  the  broad  organisational
structure,  the division of responsibilities between the centre and
regions is not spelt  out.  Doubts  surround  the  degree  of  real
autonomy  that  will be vested in the zones  and regions identified
for minorities. Indeed SLORC proposals for the National  Convention
reveal  a clear intention to maintain a centralised system in which
the Tatmadaw continue to provide  guiding,  if  not  controlling  ,

b. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
24.  Over five years have elapsed since Aung san Suu Kyi was placed
under house arrest. She remains a potent symbol  of  opposition  to
military  rule  as  the  former  General  Secretary of the National
League for Democracy, which whon almost 80 percent of the seats  in
the  1990  election. The conditions of her detention have improved,
and  the  SLORC's  decision  to  allow  United  States  Congressman
Richardson  to  visit  her  on  14  February  1994  was  a  welcome
development. However, she  has  not  been  permitted  international
visitors  since  then.  The SLORC has been reluctant to release her
and allow her to remain in  Myanmar  prior  to  the  establishment,
thorugh  the new constitution, of institutional means of containing
her influence  Under  current  Myanmar  law,  Aung  San  Suu  Kyi's
detention  cannot  be  extended  beyond  January 1995 unless she is
formally charged with an offence. The SLORC has the power  to  rule
by  decree  and it is possible that it will modify the law and thus
prolong her detention.

25. While our information on Aung San Suu Kyi's  current  views  is
necessarily  limited,  we  understand  that  she would be likely to
reject any proposal that she leave Myanmar as a condition  for  her
release.   But   she  may  be  prepared  to  consider  transitional
arrangements unde rwhich the armed forces would play a  significant
role for a defined period, and be given due recognition thereafter.

26.  Aung  San  Suu Kyi was detained on 20 July 1989, but still has
not been charged with committing offence. The SLORC claims that she
has not been charged out of respect ofr her father, Aung  San,  who
played  a prominent fole in Myanmar's independence struggle. She is
held under the 1975 "law to safeguard the state against the dangers
of those desiring to cause subversive acts "which provides for  the
"restriction of the fundamental rights of any citizen" if she or he
is   deemed   to  be  engaged  in  activity  which  "infringes  the
sovereignty  and  security  of  the  state  of  public  peace   and
tranquility".  Persons may be detained and arrested, or restrained,
as is the case with Aung San Suu Kyi. Former Prime  Minister  U  Nu
was also restrained under this law.

27.  The  powers  of  this  law  are  vested  in  a "central body",
originally composed of the ministers of home and religious affairs,
defence, and foreign affairs. Originally this group could order the
arrest of a person for up to 160 days, and restranit for  up  to  a
year.  Moreover,  the  council  of  Ministers (now the SLORC) could
grant  sanction  to  continue  the  restraing  for  "a  period  not
exceeding  180  days  at a time up to a total of three years". On 9
august 1991, however, some eleven months  short  of  Aung  San  Suu
Kyi's  first  three years of restraint, the law was amended to make
this last phrase read "a period not exceeding one year at  a  time,
up to a total of five years". At the same time, the right of appeal
to  the courts was deleted, restrictiong appeals exclusively to the
Council of Ministers (now the SLORC).

28. Although  no  definitive  official  explanation  have  everbeen
forthcoming, we understnad Aung San Suu Kyi's additional six months
under string has been justified by the technical argument that her
first  six  month  period  was  set by the "central body". The full
SLORC then approved the extension of restraint, to the  maximum  of
three  (later five) years, and this period is considered additional
to the first six months. The full sentence is thus five  years  and
six months, which is due to expire in January 1995.

29.  On  20  September 1994 the SLORC Chairman, Senior General Than
Shwe, accompanied by Secretary 1, Khin Nyunt, met Aung San Suu Kyi.
This meeting was followed by another on 28 Octiber when Khin Nyunt,
accompanied by the Judge Advocate General (Brigadier  general  Than
Oo) and the Armed Services Inspector General (Brigadier General Tin
AYe,  held  three  hours  of talks in Yangon wiht Aung San Suu Kyi.
Both meetings were officially described as "frank and cordial"; the
SLORC acknowledged  that  the  second  meeting  had  addressed  the
current political and economic situation of the country.

30.  While  there  has  been  no  public  statement  from the SLORC
outlining details of the discussions (and we have not been able  to
obtain  substantive  detail  on  them), the meetings may signal the
commencement of a dialogue on  substantive  political  issues.  The
fact  that  the  meetings  have taken place is in itself a positive
sign, sucstituting recognition by the SLORC of Aung San  Suu  Kyi's
domestic  and  internaitonal  importance  and her potential role in
national  reconciliation.  Such  reconciliation  would  be  in  the
interests  of  all political groups in the country and should allow
Myanmar to rejoin the political  and  economic  mainstream  of  the
region  and  the wider international community. It is expected that
further meetings will occur over  the  next  few  months.  At  this
stage,  nowever,  it  is not possible ti predict the outcome of the
dialogue, and the SLORC seems determined to keep  the  contents  of
the  discussions  confidential  and  to  resist any suggestion that
outside pressure is bringing about change in Myanmar.

c. Other human rihgts issues
31. Human rights conditions in Myanmar remain a cause  for  intense
internationa  concern.  Myanmar  has  a  history  of  firm military
control, ethnic insurgnecy and widespread human rights  abuses.  As
noted  in the introduction, the military has played a dominant role
in Myanmar's political  develipment  since  independence  in  1948,
particularly  since  Ne  Win  came  to  power  in 1962. The SLORC's
approach to human rights issues can thus  be  seen  as  part  of  a
continuum  established  by  previous military-dominated regimes. At
the  same  time,  the  SLORC's  seizure  of  power  in   1988   was
characterised  by  an  uncompromising brutality, which appalled the
international community.  Over  recent  years,  as  the  SLORC  has
consolidated  its  control and negotiated ceasefire agreements with
a number of insurgent groups, a slight  improvement  in  the  human
rights  situation  has become discernible. This relative easing has
been most evident since Senior General Than  Shwe's  assumption  of
the chairmanship of the SLORC in April 1992.

(i) Security of the person
32.  "Arbitrary  arrest, detention or exile": following the SLORC's
refusal to implement the results of the 1990  elections,  in  which
the  NLD won almost 60% of the vote and 80% of the seats, the SLORC
undertook a campaign ot intimidation and arrests or NLD members and
of other political opponents.

33. While SLORC abuses in this area have decreased in frequency  in
the  last  two years, political detnetions continue, and it appears
that particularly harsh  sentences  handed  down  recently  against
dissidents  (see  next  paragraph)  may  be  designed to serve as a
warning against  public  expression  of  political  dissent.  These
recent arrests and convictions follow events in 1993 where at least
thirteen  activists  were  goaled  for  20  years each for peaceful
political activity. It is difficult to specify with  precision  the
number  of  political  prisoners currently in detention in Myanmar;
given the lack of access by  outside  organisations  to  places  of
detention; but we believe that there are many.

34.  On 6 October 1994 five political activists, including a senior
NLD figure, who were arreated under the  Emergency  provisions  act
were  convicted  and sentenced to lengthy prison terms for peaceful
political activity. U Khin Maung Shwe, a  senior  NLD  figure,  was
sentenced to a term of seven years imprisonment and U Khin Zaw Win,
a  former  UNICEF  consultant, was sentenced to a total of 15 years
imprisonment  for  smuggling  offences  in  addition  to  political
offences.  The  official press in Yangon reported that "in addition
to anti-governemt  material  seized  form  Dr  Khin  Zaw  Win,  the
authorities  also  seized  62 polished rubies and sapphires and 321
Singapore dollars." He  was  convicted  of  attempting  to  smuggle
forgegn currency into Myanmar and precious stnoes out of Myanmar. U
Sein  Hla  Oo  was sentenced to seven years and Saw San San Nwe and
her  daughter  were  sentenced  to  10  years   and   seven   years

35.  Both  U  Khin  Maung  Swe  and  U  Sein Hla Oo were previously
sentenced  to  10  years  imprisonment  each  in  April  1991   for
involvement  in  moves  to  form a "parallel" government. They were
released on 1 May 1992 under Declaration 11/92 of  the  SLORC.  Daw
San  San  Nwe  was  involved  in  the  NLD's "defy all authorities"
campaign and was arrested under the Law Protecting the  State  from
Dangers  of  disruptive  and  Destructive Elements on 22 July 1989,
being released on 10 April 1990.

36. On a more encouraging note, under the current SLORC  leadership
over 2000 persons "arrested and detained politacally" have now been
released,  although  specific  information on the offences of those
released is unavailable. The curfew has been lifted,  the  military
courts  have  been  replaced  by  the  civil legal system, and some
prominenet  political   prisoners   have   received   international
visitors.  While  the all-embracing power of military tribunals was
abolished in  1992,  the  civil  courts  remain  under  firm  SLORC
control. Family members can usuallly determine if a person has been
detained  because  authorities will confirm detentions, but provide
little additional infromation. Another positive sign  is  that  the
SLORC  is  engaged  in  an  active  dialogue with the INternational
Committee of the Red cross on the exercise of the ICRC's mandate in

37. "Political and other extrajudicial killing and disappearances":
In 1993 U Win Ko, a member of the NLD,  was  murdered  in  KUnming,
China;  while  U  Hla  Pe,  a  member of the NCGUG, was murdered in
Bangkok. While there is no evidence to  identify  who  planned  and
carried  out  the  killings,  it  has been suggested that the SLORC
might have been involved. Cases of disappearance do not  appear  to
be  prevalent.  Professor Yokota's report mentions credible reports
of  extrajudicial  killing,  mostly  in  border  areas,  and  often
involving  porters  and  insurgent  prisoners.  The  prospect  of a
further decrease in military activity between the tatmadaw and  the
ethnic insurgent forces following a series of ceasefire agreements,
and   the   continuing   negotiations   over  additional  ceasefire
arrangements, suggest that the incidence  of  human  rights  abuses
should be expected to decline further.

39.  "Forced  labour:"  The  use of forced labour in infrastructure
development  and  in  support  of  military  activities   continues
thorughout  the  countryside  and is an area of particular concern.
There are three  main  types  of  forced  labour:  conscription  of
porters  to  support  military operations, use of compulsory public
labour  for  large  infrastructure  projects  ("corvee  labour"  or
"labour  contribution",  as  the  SLORC  described  it), and prison
labour for public works. Both conscript porter labour  and  convict
labour are provided ofr in Myanmar law.

40.  The  use  of  civilian  porters  by  the military has prompted
credible reports of serious human rights bouses.  The  conscription
of porters is primarily a response to the lack of logistics support
for   army   units  operating  in  remote  or  inaccessible  areas,
especially in the border regions where communications are poor  and
the counter-insurgnecy operations and military operations have been
most  intense. The proctice has been commonplace since independence
(and before), and has a  basis  in  the  Army  ACt,  which  enables
District   Commissioners   and   Army  Commanders  to  approve  the
recruitment of civilians to provide support for Armed forces. Under
the law, each porter is to be paid a  daily  wage,  and  is  to  be
provided   with   the   same   rations,  privileges  and  right  to
compensation in the  case  of  injury  as  a  private  soldier.  In
practice,  howerer,  porters receive neither the pay nor conditions
of  soldiers. In addition to the forced labour, families or porters
are sometimes required to rpovide the military with sums of  money,
ostensibly  for  food  and  medicine, which it is assumed is mostly
pocketed by the military.

41.  The  ranges  of  abuses  committed  against  porters  is  well
documented,  and  includes  beating,  rape,  and in some instances,
murder. There are also reports of porters being used as human  mine
sweepers.  The  worst abuses appear to be committed against porters
recruited locally from  ethnic  minority  villages  that  might  be
suspected of sympathising with the insurgents.

42.  Sentencing  of  convicted  criminals to imprisonment with hard
labor is provided for in Myanmar law. The work is usually unskilled
and related to infrastructure projects. Political prisoners are not
generally required to undertake prison labour, even when  sentenced
to perform it.

43.  There is widespread abuse of "corvee labour". This description
covers  both  voluntary   comunity   work   and   the   large-scale
conscription  of  labourers to work on public works projects. There
is considerable controversory over the term.  The  SLORC  maintains
that long historical practice and lack of international development
assistance  to  fund  infrastructure  developmemt  justufy  current
practice, while critics claim that the historical precedent relatis
only to voluntary work performed at the village level. The  process
is  usually  initiated  by  a  demand that each family contribute a
member to work for a given number of days or perform  a  particular
task.   Reports  indicat  that  the  treatment  of people forced to
provide labour varies considerably between projects and locations.

44. In 1992-93, several thousand people were forced to work on  the
Aungban-LOikaw  railway  in  particularly harsh conditions. Workers
were not paid, food and shelter were  not  provided,  and  beatings
were  reported.  It seems that many workers died, mostly of malaria
and diseases associated with exposure. In contrast, at a project in
Mandalay in 1994 to  clear  the  drained  Mandalay  moat  where  no
payment  ofr  labour  was  made, there were no reports of beatings,
death  of  serious  illness  among  those  involved.  The  harshest
conditions,  and  the  worst  abuses,  are  usually associated with
projects some distance from villages, as  usual  practice  is  that
villagers return home in the evenings after work.

45.  Recent  reports  of  serious  abuses  have concentrated on the
Ye-Tavoy railway. Recent public announcement in Myanmar claim  that
"volunteers "  who participated in the construction of this railway
were  awarded  over  900,000  kyat  (USD  9,000)  for their "labour
contribution" and 54,000 kyat for hire of hand-pulled tractors used
in the construction. It is not clear  if  the  money  was  paid  to
individuals or to local communities.

(ii) Freedom of speech, assembly, religion and movement
46.  "Freedom  of  speech and the media:" The UN Special Rapporteur
has reported on the general climate of fear, and the reluctance  of
Myanmar  citizens  to  discuss political issues. Informed, critical
discussion of political issues is not permitted by the state  media
monopoly.  These  restrictions  on political debate clearly inhibit
discussions at the National Convention, thus calling into  question
the Convention's credibility.

47.  All  publications  are strictly censored, as is the electronic
media. Legal restrictions on printing and publishing  have  led  to
dissidents being sentenced to long gaol sentences for possession of
illegal  pamphlets.  For  example, Dr Aung Khin Sint, a delegate to
the  National  Convention,  was  imprisoned  in  1993  for  illegal
distribution  of  material  to  other Convention delegates; much of
this material was speeches and  papers  already  delivered  at  the

48.  "Freedom of peaceful assembly and association:" The SLORC does
not  respect  the  right  of  peaceful  assembly.  The   right   of
association  exists  only  for  organisations  permitted by law and
registered with the Myanmar government. The treatment  of  the  NLD
and   other   political   groups   is  indicative  of  the  SLORC's
unwillingness to respect there human rights.

49. The maritial law  prohibiting  gatherings  of  more  than  five
persons remains in place, although it is no longer enforced in most
instances.  Nevertheless,  even the smallest of demonstrations have
been forcibly ended  and  participants  sentenced  to  long  prison

50.  "Freedom  of religion:" freedom of religion is provided for in
law and there is no organised persecution in Myanmar  on  religious
grounds.  While  Buddhism  is the majority religion, Muslim mosques
and Christian churches operate freely.

51. "Freedom of movement  and  forced  relocations:"  Although  the
majority  of  Myanmar  citizens  have  the right to move and reside
within the country with relative freedom, significant areas of  the
country  remain  off limits for most citizens for security reasons.
Widespread  recourse  to  checkpoints  and  random  questioning  of
individuals  over  the  reasons  for their travel contribute to the
general climate  of  fear.  A  particular  restriction  applies  to
returning  Rohingyas, who receive identity documents which restrict
their freedom of movement to within Arakan state.

52. There have also been incidences where people have been  subject
to  forced  relocation,  usually  in areas of significant insurgent
activity. The tatmadaw's counter-insurgency strategy  is  known  as
"the  four  cuts",  in  which  villagers within an area of military
operations are forced to relocate. The purpose of relocation is  to
cut   the  insurgents's  supply  of  food,  finance,  recruits  and
intellignece. Forced relocation, used both to clear  slums  and  to
remove  villagers  sympathetic  to  the insurgents from areas where
they can provide support, has been common  throughout  the  SLORC's

Part 2 of 3.