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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
ASIA: UN HUMAN RIGHTS CALLS ON BURMA TO UPHOLD RIGHTS
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
ASIA: AMBASSADOR BLASTS BURMA DURING UN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTION
UN BURMA NIGHTLEAD
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
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,"
"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.