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Senator Mitch McConnell & Burma on (r)

Subject: Senator Mitch McConnell & Burma on December 8, 1995 (Part. 2 of 2)

Attn: Burma Newsreaders
Re: Senator Mitch McConnell & Burma on December 8, 1995 (Part.2 of 2)

         BURMA (Senate, December 8, 1995)

>From the New York Times, Nov. 30, 1995 
Burmese Opposition To Boycott Junta's Convention 
Rangoon, Burma .--Defying the military government, Aung San Suu Kyi, the
Burmese opposition leader, announced Wednesday that her political party would
boycott a military-run convention to draw up a new constitution for Burma .  
The move was Mrs. Suu Kyi's most direct challenge to the junta since she was
freed in July after spending nearly six years under house arrest. `The people
of Burma are very united in thinking that the national convention is not
heading toward democracy,' the Nobel Peace Prize winner said in announcing
the boycott. `I do not think there is as yet any evidence that the people of
Burma support this national convention.'  
In a letter delivered Tuesday, the party informed the government of its
decision to boycott the convention, which reopened this week after a
seven-month recess, in protest over the junta's refusal to open negotiations
with the party over Burma 's political future.  
In a response published Wednesday in a government-run newspaper, the junta
accused the leaders of the party, the National League for Democracy, of
trying to disrupt the national convention in hopes of replacing it `with a
convention they would be able to dominate as they like.'  
The party's decision to boycott the constitutional convention was `totally
forsaking and going against the national interests,' the military statement
The government also deployed uniformed soldiers to the homes of three senior
party members. The soldiers allowed residents of the houses to come and go,
but foreign diplomats reported widespread rumors that a wing of Insein
Prison, the local penitentiary used to hold political prisoners, had been
cleared out in recent days to make space for many of Mrs. Suu Kyi's
The boycott by Mrs. Suu Kyi and her party removes any veneer of legitimacy
from the 
convention, which was organized by the military two years ago to enshrine its
political role in the Burmese government. 
The junta, which calls itself the State Law and Order Restoration Council,
has refused to honor the results of elections in 1990 won overwhelmingly by
the National League for Democracy. Mrs. Suu Kyi, the Oxford-educated daughter
of Burma 's independence hero, Gen. Aung San, was under house arrest at the
time of the voting.  
Since her release in July, Mrs. Suu Kyi has called repeatedly for
negotiations with the junta, saying she is anxious to avoid any possibility
of a repetition of the violence that occurred in 1988, when thousands of her
supporters were gunned down in a military crackdown that led to her house
arrest the next year.  

`We do not want to call the people onto the streets, and we have no intention
of calling the people into the streets,' she said at a news conference
Wednesday in her lakeside garden. `We have always said that we are prepared
to have dialogue at any time.'  
But the generals have not responded to her pleas, pushing ahead instead with
a stage-managed constitutional convention in which delegates, mostly
handpicked by the military, are drafting a constitution that guarantees the
military a permanent role in Burmese politics.  
As a result of her boycott, the 86 seats allotted to the National League for
Democracy were empty in the convention hall Wednesday, the second day of the
current session.  
`The authorities did not at any time show any willingness to talk to the
National League for 
Democracy as the winning party of the 1990 elections,' Mrs. Suu Kyi said.
`They keep saying that the national convention is a substitute for dialogue.
I do no think they can say that any longer.'  
Plainclothes soldiers have been stationed outside Mrs. Suu Kyi's house since
her release--and at her request, which is seen by diplomats as a clever move
since it allows Mrs. Suu Kyi to blame the military if a public disturbance
outside her home should get out of hand.  
But there was no request by the party for the uniformed soldiers who suddenly
appeared outside the homes of three of her senior party colleagues on Tuesday
night, hours after the National League for Democracy informed the government
of its boycott.  
Western diplomats said they feared that the junta might try to arrest some of
the party's senior members on charges of inciting public disorder because of
the boycott.  
The party's vice chairman and one of its founders, U Tin Oo, said in an
interview that six 
uniformed soldiers had appeared outside his home Tuesday night, and that he
had been tailed by another soldier as he traveled through the city Wednesday.
`But we have no worries at all,' he insisted with a confident smile. `I have
been in prison before. They can detain me, do whatever they want. This is not
a democratic country. We have to face some costs for the restoration of the
legitimate rights of a democracy.'  
>From the Washington Post, Nov. 30, 1995 
Burmese Opposition Leader Snubs Junta's  
Constitution Talks 
Rangoon, Burma .--Using the backdrop of a government-sponsored constitutional
convention as a forum for stepping up opposition to the country's military
rules, Nobel Prize-winning opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said today that
Burma is not headed on the path of democracy.  
Four and half months after her release from house arrest by the ruling State
Law and Order Restoration Council, Aung San Suu Kyi addresses increasingly
large crowds each weekend afternoon from the gate of her home near Rangoon
But in a news conference and talk today at her fenced-in compound, she
revealed that her National League for Democracy, which overwhelmingly won
elections in 1990 that the military refused to recognize, has notified
government officials that the party would not participate in the
constitutional deliberations. The military government hopes the convention
will legitimize its rule by forging an `enduring state constitution.'  
Insisting that the military first open a dialogue with her party, which it
has refused to do, Aung San Suu Kyi said, `A country which is drawing up a
constitution that will decide the future of a state should have the
confidence of the people.  
Her party's boycott has resulted in a palpable increase in tension in
Rangoon. Party leaders discovered security forces stationed outside their
homes when they awoke today, a day after the convention opened.  
Despite the tense atmosphere and the chaotic presence at her house of dozens
of convention delegates barred from attending the convention, Aung San Suu
Kyi took time to outline her views on democracy, the goal of her political
movement, which has taken on new life since her release.  

`With 7 million votes for the party in 1990,' she said, `the views of the
people are very clear. They want a constitution that will defend their basic
Despite considerable corruption and a thriving black market, Aung San Suu Kyi
insisted that Burma is adequately prepared for democracy and maintained that
its absence is responsible for the corruption.  
`This country was a democracy once from independence in 1948 until a 1962
military coup, and our situation then was very much better than it is now,'
she said. `The Burmese people are disciplined and receptive if you explain
what is wanted of them and why.'  
Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest in 1989, a year after the
military instituted a crackdown on her supporters that resulted in thousands
of deaths. Many of her associates are still in prison. She won the Nobel
Peace Prize in 1991 for her democracy campaign. Since her release from
confinement in July, she has repeatedly called for reconciliation and
dialogue among democratic forces, ethnic groups and her military foes.  
Reponding to the military's charges that her party's methods are
confrontational, Aung San Suu Kyi reacted angrily. `What they have termed
`confrontational' is that we have asked for a dialogue, which we want in
order to prevent confrontation. To silence the views of people whose opinions
are different by putting them in prison is far more confrontational.  
Yet the move to boycott the constitutional convention is likely to be viewed
as a provocation by the regime, which observers said could widen the gulf
between government and opposition. The regime says Burma will become a
multi-party democracy after the new constitution is drafted, but it has not
 provided a timetable. 
Aung San Suu Kyi, however, said the boycott was necessary. `They won't even
talk to us,' she said with a laugh. `How could the gulf be widened? It can
only be narrowed.'  
As for the military's intentions in convening the constitutional convention,
one Western embassy official, reflecting a widely held view, said, `The path
which seems to be one chosen would lead to the drafting of a constitution
which calls for transition that ensures civilian rule on the front end, with
continued real authority being held indefinitely by the military.'  
One of the guidelines for the proposed constitution guarantees a `leading
role' for the military in politics, and another bans anyone married to a
foreigner from assuming the office of president. Aung San Suu Kyi is married
to Michael Aris, a British academic.  
She has continued to talk of compromise. `We have always said we want to talk
over our 
differences to find an answer that's acceptable to everyone,' she said. `We
have never closed any doors and are open to any discussions which might
result in what's best for Burma 's people.'  
Aung San Suu Kyi insists that her party has no timetable for transition to
democracy, and she avoids being locked into any one scenario by saying that
the situation is so prone to change.  
But Burma is very much at a crossroads now. After years of sealed borders and
international ostracism, the government is actively seeking investment,
tourism and political legitimacy. Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been outspoken in
urging foreign investors to `jolly well wait' before bringing business into
the country, said, `Luxury hotels do not mean a developed Burma .'  
Her photogenic presence, Oxford education, revered lineage--her father was
the hero of Burma 's independence--and her absence from Burma during the
1970s and '80s, which distanced her from factional infighting within the
democrats' diverse coalition, make her a magnet for Burma 's discontented.  
Encounters in Burma 's remote interior confirm her widespread support. A shop
owner in 
Yaunghwe, in Shan State, made sure the coast was clear and proudly showed off
a T-shirt 
picturing Aung San Suu Kyi with her quote, `Fear is a habit. I am not
afraid,' on the back. A Buddhist monk in Mandalay, flipping through an
English guidebook, came across her photo and exclaimed, `Do you know who this
is? Do you? This is our national heroine.'  
Statement of Mr. Yozo Yokota, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human
on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar to the Fiftieth Session of the
General Assembly 
Mr. President, I am here before you for the fourth time since the creation of
my mandate by the Commission on Human Rights in March 1992. And, for the
fourth time, I have the duty to bring to your attention any progress made
toward the restoration of democracy and protection of human rights in
Mr. President, in the interim report which is brought before your Assembly, I
provided on the basis of the information received a summary of allegations
reported to have occurred in Myanmar during this last year. This include;
summary executions, arbitrary detention, torture and forced labour. On
purpose, I did not draw any conclusions or recommendations in my interim
report. To do so, I found it necessary, in accordance with Commission on
Human Rights and General Assembly resolutions, to establish or continue
direct contact with the Government and people of Myanmar in order to verify
the information received and to analyze its content. To my regret, however,
such direct contacts in the form of a visit to Myanmar and Thailand were not
possible before the deadline for the submission of the interim report.  
Mr. President, at the invitation of the Government of Myanmar by a letter of
the Minister for 
Foreign Affairs dated 28 September 1995, I undertook a visit to the Union of
Myanmar from 8 to 17 October 1995. From 17 to 20 October 1995, I visited and
met with some Myanmar ethnic minorities in Thailand, along the Thai/Myanmar
border, to ascertain the situation of human rights within Myanmar for these
ethnic minorities namely: Karenni, Shan and Karen.  
While in Yangon, my office, accommodation and local transport were provided
by the UNDP Office in Myanmar, to which I wish to express my deep gratitude.
Mr. President, I wish to note with special gratitude that the Government of
Myanmar facilitated the visit, including the travel within Myanmar to Kachin
State in Myitkyina and Eastern Shan State in Kyaingtone and to Myitkina and
Insein prisons, and extended me many courtesies.  
During this visit, I was received by a number of high-level government
officials including 
Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt, Secretary One of the State Law and Order
Restoration Council (SLORC), the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, the
Chief Justice, the Minister for Information, the Minister for National
Planning and Economic Development, the Minister for Home Affairs and other
high level authorities.  
During my stay in Yangon, I also had the opportunity to meet twice with Dow
Jung San Suu Kyi at her private home. Former NLD Chairmen U Kyi Maung and U
Tin Oo, the actual Chairman and other NLD representatives were also present.
During these meetings, I enjoyed a frank, open and lengthy exchange of views
which touched upon most issues of concern for restoration of democracy and
respect of human rights in Myanmar. I was informed about the new composition
of the Executive Committee of the National 
League for Democracy which is as follow: U Aung Shwe as Chairman; U Kyi Maung
U Tin Oo as Deputy Chairmen, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as General-Secretary and U
Lwin as Secretary.  
According to NLD leaders only peace, public order and dialogue may lead to
democratization. Therefore, as a mature political party, NLD does not want to
return to the situation which was prevailing in 1988 or to act in vengeance.
As a responsible political party, NLD is able to control its supporters.
Their only aim is to promote a genuine dialogue with the Government of
While in Myanmar, I also had the opportunity to see the representatives of
the three political parties participating in the National Convention, namely,
the Union Kayene League, the National League for Democracy and the National
Unity Party. In spite of my strong and repeated requests to meet with them in
private at my office in the UNDP compound in Yangon. I regret to say that,
this year again, the meetings with these political leaders were arranged to
take place at a Government guest house. The location and atmosphere were not
conducive to a free and unencumbered exchange of views.  

With regard to the detention of political prisoners, I must express my
disappointment that this year, despite a formal written request before going
to Myanmar and despite my repeated requests while in Myanmar, I was not
permitted to see any such prisoner neither in Isein prison nor in Myitkina
With regard to the National Convention. I was not able to observe its
meetings because it was not in session when I visited Myanmar this time.
However, information from reliable sources indicates that it is not heading
towards restoration of democracy, I am particularly disappointed to learn
that the Government has not yet distributed the Myanmar language version of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to all delegates to the National
At the completion of my visit to Myanmar, I proceeded from 17 to 20 October
1995, to Thailand, to visit displaced persons from Myanmar in the area of Mae
Hong Son and Mae Sariang, where, I established or continued contact with the
people of Myanmar living in camps. Let me also take this opportunity to
express my deep gratitude to the Government of Thailand who facilitated my
visit to the camps.  
Mr. President, I now wish to summarize my observations on the human rights
situation in Myanmar on the basis of the allegations received, my recent
visit to that country and Thailand and of the information received from
various sources, including the Government officials and people of Myanmar,
staff members of the United Nations and other specialised agencies, staff
members of active human rights and humanitarian non-governmental
organizations, foreign government officials, journalists, scholars and
Since there has been no time to study carefully the information and documents
collected during my visits to Myanmar and Thailand, these observations will
have to be still preliminary in nature. The full account of my findings,
observations and recommendations will be reflected in my final report to the
Commission on Human Rights, which I intend to submit at the beginning of
 next year.  
First of all, there are some developments which may lead to improvements in
human rights situation in that country.  
a. The Government of Myanmar continued to release political prisoners in 1995
although the exact number could not be verified. I was particularly pleased
to note that among these released detainees were two prominent political
party leaders from the National League for Democracy, U Kyi Maung and U Tin
Oo, the latter of whom I met in Insein Prison in 1993 and 1994.  
I have also welcomed with great satisfaction the announcement, made on 10
July 1995, that restrictions on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi were lifted by the
Government of Myanmar and that she has been released. I am particularly
pleased to note that she was released without conditions and is now free to
meet with people and free to travel within the country.  
b. Since the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, a crowd of two to three
thousand people is gathering every weekend, Saturdays and Sundays, outside
the gate of her residence to hear what Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders
say. During my visit to Myanmar, I witnessed personally one of these
gatherings. The atmosphere was peaceful and the crowd of supporters were
disciplined. To my knowledge none of these meetings had disorder. To my
knowledge none of the supporters was threatened or arrested for having
attended such meetings.  
Yet, I have to state that last week, on Saturday 18 November among the crowd
which gathered that day to listen to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's speech, I have
been informed by reliable sources that three NLD members were arrested for
having intervened with the police who was erecting barricades in front of her
house. According to the information received, the three persons were charged
 with assaulting a police officer and were reportedly sentenced two days
later to two years imprisonment. Although I have no details of the trial
proceedings, it would appear that the accused could not possibly mount an
effective defense with regard to the legal and factual basis for the arrest
and incarceration in such a short period of time.  

c. Cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR) is continuing and more than 190,000 Myanmar refugees out of
estimated total of about 250,000 have so far been repatriated from
neighbouring Bangladesh.  
d. The Government is expanding cooperation with various other United Nations
bodies and specialised agencies such as UNDP, UNICEF and UNDCP. Year after
year, the work of the humanitarian non-governmental organizations is slowly
expanding. Now, these organisations are allowed to implement programmes
outside Yangon and able to reach out grass-root people who suffer from
shortage or lack of food, safe water, medicine, medical care and proper

e. In cities like Yangon, Myitkyina and Kyaningtone, I observed that there
were visible signs of relaxation of tension in the life of the people. It
seems that people generally enjoy normal life. There were many consumer goods
in market places where many shoppers crowded. Physical developments in the
construction or improvement of roads, bridges, buildings and railways are
taking place throughout the country and in some border areas. However, just
as last year, I was informed that only a small portion of the population
enjoy the improved life and the majority who were poor rather suffered from
higher prices of basic necessity goods such as rice and medicine.  
f. On the particular question of forced labour, I was informed during my
recent mission to 
Myanmar that the SLORC had issued a `secret directive' to discourage the
practice of forced labour. I am hopeful that this directive would be
implemented rigorously.  
g. As Special Rapporteur, I welcome the signature of several cease-fire
agreements between the Government of Myanmar and different ethnic minorities.
This is without doubt a positive step towards peace. Needless to say, such
agreements should be faithfully respected by both parties.  
Mr. President, in spite of these developments. I have the duty to state that
there are still many restrictions on fundamental freedoms and serious
violations of human rights continuing in Myanmar.  
a. As mentioned above, I welcome the recent release of a number of political
prisoners. However, I remain concerned about the fact that there are still
more than several hundred persons imprisoned or detained for reasons of
political activities. I am also concerned about the prevalence of a complex
array of security laws which allow the Government sweeping powers of
arbitrary arrest and detention These laws include the 1950 Emergency
Provisions Act, the 1975 State Protection Law, the 1962 Printers and
Publishers Registration Law, the 1923 Official Secrets Act and the 1908
Unlawful Association Act.  
Various articles in these laws continue to be used in combination to
prosecute a number of individuals who were exercising their rights to freedom
of expression and association. The combination of charges under these laws
included ones such as writing and distributing what were described as
`illegal leaflets, spreading false information injurious to the state' and
`contact with illegal organisations'. I understand that due to such laws and
other SLORC orders, the activities of the political parties, particularly the
NLD, are severely restricted. 
b. Severe court sentences for some political leaders have been reported and
Information from reliable sources indicates that there are problems in the
field of the 
administration of justice with regard to fair trials, free access to defense
lawyers, proportionality between the acts committed and the punishment
applied and time for careful examination of the case by courts.  
c. The non-acceptance by Myanmar of ICRC's customary procedures for visits
for places of detention is a negative step towards amelioration of their
d. There are still cases of torture, arbitrary killings, rapes, and
confiscation of private property according to testimony and evidence acquired
by me. They seem to be taking place most frequently in border areas by
military soldiers in the course of military operations, forced relocations
and development projects. Many of the victims of such atrocious acts belong
to ethnic national populations, especially women, peasants, daily wage
earners and other peaceful civilians who do not have enough money to avoid
mistreatment by bribing. 

e. I am gravely concerned at the continued reports of forced porterage,
forced labour, forced relocation which are still occurring in border areas
where the Army is engaged in military operations or where `regional
development projects' are taking place.  
a. As Special Rapporteur, I urge the Government of Myanmar to sign and ratify
the Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights, the Optional Protocol to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
as well as the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Convention on the Elimination of
All Forms of Discrimination against Women.  
b. The Government of Myanmar should comply with the obligations under the
International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 29 prohibiting the
practice of forced portering and other forced labour.  
c. Myanmar law should be brought into line with accepted international
standards regarding protection of the physical integrity rights. Among these
international standards are the right to life, prohibition of torture,
providing humane conditions for all persons under detention and insurance of
the minimum standards of judicial guarantees.  
d. The Government of Myanmar should take steps to facilitate and guarantee
enjoyment of the freedoms of opinions, expression and association, in
particular by decriminalizing the expression of oppositional views,
relinquishing government control over the media and literary and artistic
community, and permitting the formation of independently organized trade
e. All persons including elected political representatives, students,
workers, peasants, monks and others arrested or detained under martial law
after the 1988 and 1990 demonstrations or as a result of the National
Convention, should be tried by a properly constituted and independent
civilian court in an open and internationally accessible judicial process. If
found guilty in such judicial proceedings, they should be given a just
sentence; alternatively, they should be immediately released and the
Government refrain from all acts of intimidation, threats or reprisals
against them or their families.  
f. As Special Rapporteur. I recommend the Government of Myanmar to repeal or
amend as appropriate the relevant provisions which at present prevent the
ICRC from carrying out its humanitarian activities as regards the prison
visits. In this regard, I encourage the Government of Myanmar, in a spirit of
humanitarian goodwill, to re-invite the presence in Myanmar of the
International Committee of the Red Cross in order to carry out their purely
humanitarian tasks.  
g. The Government of Myanmar should publicize the `secret directive' which
discourage the practice of forced labour. This will indicate and the will of
the Government of Myanmar to effectively prohibit and suppress forced labour.
Moreover, wide dissemination of the existence of the directive would promote
awareness that forced labour is neither condoned nor tolerated.  
h. The Government of Myanmar should without delay resume its dialogue with
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.  
i. As Special Rapporteur. I call upon the Government of Myanmar to resolve
peacefully its difficulties with ethnic minorities and to take all
appropriate measures to ensure respect for human rights and humanitarian
obligations in the situation of armed conflicts between the Myanmar Army and
the armed ethnic groups.  
j. The Government of Myanmar should distribute copies of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights in Myanmar language to all delegates to National
Convention which is to be reconvened tomorrow. 28 November 1995. Such action
would indicate to the international community the willingness of the
Government to bring the relevant provisions of the domestic laws, in
particular  the new Constitution to be eventually enacted into conformity
with international human rights standards.  

Mr. President, I have analyzed these allegations and have made some
recommendations strictly in terms of the international human rights
obligations which Myanmar has freely undertaken. I am particularly thinking
of the fact that Myanmar is a Member of the United Nations and is therefore
bound to respect the human rights standards emanating from the United Nations
Charter. I believe the Government of Myanmar should, and has the ability, to
fulfill in good faith the obligations it has assumed. 

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