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AP/AFP(11/12/95): U.N. TAKING A STA

Subject: AP/AFP(11/12/95): U.N. TAKING A STAND ON BURMA

   UNITED NATIONS, Dec 11 AP - A UN committee urged Burma today to 
release all political prisoners and open a "substantive political 
dialogue" with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to live up to its 
promises to protect human rights.
	   The resolution, approved by the Human Rights Committee, will be 
referred to the General Assembly at a later, unspecified date. 
Resolutions endorsed at committee level are usually approved by the 
General Assembly with little dissent.
	   In the resolution, sponsored by Britain and 28 other countries, 
the United Nations deplored continued human rights violations in 
Burma, also known as Myanmar.
	   It cited reports of arbitrary arrests, killing of civilians, 
forced labour and restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly. 
The resolution welcomed the military government's decision to 
release Suu Kyi from house arrest last July.
	   The resolution "urges the government of Myanmar to engage at the 
earliest possible date in a substantive political dialogue with 
Aung San Suu Kyi and other political leaders including 
representatives of the ethnic groups as the best means of promoting 
national reconciliation and the full and early restoration of 
	   It also called on Burma to "ensure full respect for human rights 
and fundamental freedoms", including freedoms of assembly, 
expression and religion.
	   In a statement to the committee, US Ambassador Madeleine 
Albright expressed satisfaction that the United Nations was taking 
a stand on Burma.
	   She said the United States would not oppose the resolution but 
declined to sign on as a co-sponsor because Washington supported 
tougher language. She noted, for example, that while the resolution 
welcomed on-going cease-fires between the government and ethnic 
minorities, "the Burmese army has not fully honoured those 
	   She said the United States would have preferred language 
encouraging UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to hold 
talks with Burma's leaders to encourage them toward further steps 
to democracy.
	   AP dm/spd
   By Sheri Prasso of Agence France-Presse
	   UNITED NATIONS, Dec 11 AFP - The US ambassador to the United 
Nations blasted the Burmese government today as a UN committee 
passed a resolution deploring the human rights situation in that 
country for the fourth year in a row.
	   The Third Committee, which approves human rights measures before 
they go to the General Assembly, adopted it by consensus. The 
Burmese ambassador strongly protested the language of the 
resolution, but did not vote against it.
	   The US ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright, 
said Burma's State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) was 
operating outside of the law and internationally recognised 
standards of human rights.
	   She warned that "the SLORC should have no doubt that it will be 
held responsible for any actions that result in physical harm or 
unjust punishment against those who have simply engaged in the 
peaceful exercise of internationally recognised rights".
	   Human Rights Watch/Asia issued a statement welcoming the 
resolution but criticising the General Assembly for failing "to 
recommend or commit member states to adopt any particular actions 
to press for implementation of the resolution".
	   The human rights organisation said no countries should give 
incentives to trade with or give loans to Burma until it improves 
its record and called for a UN on-the-ground monitoring of the 
country "as tensions are expected to increase over the coming weeks 
and months."
	   Albright gave as an example of continued repression the national 
convention to draft a new constitution, which was held in November 
in Rangoon without the participation of the opposition National 
League for Democracy (NLD) party.
	   The NLD won the 1990 elections in Burma but has not been allowed 
to take power. NLD delegates, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, at first 
boycotted convention meetings and then were expelled.
	   "Following the release from detention last July of Aung San Suu 
Kyi, there were hopes that the national convention would, in fact, 
become a meaningful forum for discussion about Burma's future," 
Albright said.
	   "Instead, the government has maintained its habit of rigid 
control, and the few representatives of the democratic movement and 
of the various ethnic groups have been prohibited from voicing 
dissenting views," she said.
	   The resolution mentions the convention and urges the government 
to "take all appropriate measures to allow all citizens to 
participate freely in the political process" and to take immediate 
steps for democracy.
	   Burmese ambassador Win Mra said the resolution sponsored by 
Sweden, while more tame than the one passed last year, "does not 
accurately reflect the prevailing situation" in Burma and "will not 
serve any useful purpose."
	   "My delegation rejects all the negative elements in the draft 
before us," he said.
	   "These references clearly aim to portay the government of 
Myanmar (Burma) as systematically engaged in human rights 
violations. It has never been the policy of the government to 
condone violations of human rights."
	   He said the UN special rapporteur Yozo Yokota, who prepared the 
report on which the resolution was based, showed "a lack of balance 
and professionalism" and he asked for the measure to be thrown out.
	   The Burmese ambassador said any criticism of his government's 
handling of the convention was unfounded, because the NLD's 
non-participation "was the result of a premeditated action of one 
political party to mar the successes achieved so far" by the SLORC.
	   AFP ft/spd