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BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT OCT 95 (2 (r)
Subject: BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT OCT 95 (2.15-2.22)
/* posted Sun Jan 28 6:00am 1995 by DRUNOO@xxxxxxxxxxxx(DR U NE OO) in igc:reg.burma */
/* -----------" BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT, OCT 95 (2.15-2.22) "---------- */
Following materials are reproduction from the findings of Human Rights
Sub-Committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affair, Defence
and Trade of the Parliament of Australia, published in October 1995.
Anyone wishing to inquire about the document may contact Ms Margaret
Swieringa, Secretary, Human Rights Sub-Committee, Parliament House,
Canberra A.C.T. 2600, AUSTRALIA.
Best regards, U Ne Oo.
CHAPTER TWO: (2.15 - 2.22)
The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia
Joint Standing Committee of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
A REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE LACK OF PROGRESS TOWARDS DEMOCRACY
IN BURMA (MYANMAR) October 1995
CHAPTER TWO: HUMAN RIGHTS (2.15 - 2.22)
Human Rights in Burma
The View of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) - An
2.15 The Burmese Government did not formally address the Committee on the
question of human rights in Burma. Nevertheless, the Burmese government's
assessment of its own record is presented in the Foreign Minister's
addresses to the General Assembly and the Royal Thai National Defence
College in 1994.
2.16 These speeches stressed a number of things:
* the State Law and Order Restoration Council intends to establish
a multi-party democracy in the country;
* the democracy would be in accordance with the wishes and desires
of the 45 million people of Myanmar;
* as a consequence of the struggle for independence and the
sacrifices of the peoples in that struggle, there was implacable
opposition to the dominance of fireigners in any interference in
the internal affairs of the country; and
* there is a need for unity in a country torn by internal strife
and the existence of one hundred national races .
2.17 U Ohn Gyaw listed the achievements of his Government as:
* the suspension of military offensives since April 1992 - a total
of 12 groups have returned to the legal fold;\
* the establishment of a National Convention to develop a new
constitution and foster national reconciliation. Consensus has been
achieved, he said, on the 15 Chapter headings, the 104 fundamental
principles of teh state and the Chapters on the Structure of the
State and the Head of State. The process has been slowed by the
need to achieve consensus from the 700 delegates. (There will
be more extensive discussion of the National Convention in Chapter
* a priority for the development of the border areas with a view to
narrowing the gap between rural and urban areas - improvements in
infrastructure, roads, bridges, hospitals and ommunication systems.
A master plan for border areas up to the year 2004 details means
for the alleviation of poverty through the eradication of poppy
cultivation and the establishment of alternative economic
enterprises, the preservation of culture, literature and customs
forthe national races and the preservation of security and law and
order in the border areas. (There is a further discussion of the
border areas below in chapter 4);
* international cooperation with China, Laos and Thailand under the
auspices of the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP) and in
compliance with the 1988 UN Convention against Traffic in Narcotic
Drugs for the reduction of drug trafficking and production;
* the introduction of a market economy; and
* an increase in foreign investment through the promulgation of the
Foreign Investment Law. Considerable detail on the sectors and the
amounts of investment were given by the Foreign Minister.
(These will be addressed in Chapter 6).
2.18 On human rights, specifically civil and political rights, U Ohn Gyaw
the Myanmar Government does not condone human rights abuses. It is
totally against human rights abuses. [The Government] has
cooperated fully wit the United Nations and has faithfully
responded to all its inquiries regarding human rights questions. We
have permitted US congressmen and congressional aides as well as UN
personnel to visit Insein goal and interview some of the inmates.
We have taken diplomats, visiting dignitaries and journalists to
the areas of alleged human rights abuses. There has been no
executions at all in prisons although there were many instances
where people have been sentenced to death for their crimes. On 9
January s1993 all death sentences were changed to life imprisonment
while other jail sentences were reduced. .... The tatmadaw (the
Burmese Army) is conducting classes in conjunction with the
INternational Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) regarding the
various principles contained in the [Geneva] Convention. .....
Torture, ill-treatment of prisoners and degrading punishments are
2.19 Two witnesses to the inquiry also saw developments in Burma in a
positive light. The Hon RLJ Hawke in outlining his impressions of Burma
after his visit to the country in January 1995 stated:
We had been uniformly impressed by the competence, knowledge and
commitment of these ministers and their associates to the economic
development of Myanmar as a basis for the national and political
advancement of the people and their country. This view was
confirmed in our meeting with General Khin Nyunt, who specifically
expressed a commitment to the emergence of a more democratic
siciety - not necessarily according to western parliamentary forms
- in the future.
IN dealing with the government of Myanmar, we believe that you are
not dealing with the incompetence and self-aggrandisement that
characterises so many military regimes in other parts of the world.
It has done things which cannot be approved, but rather than
one-sided, blanket condemnation made by its critics, the givernment
is entitled to be given credit for its genuine commitment to
improving the economic condition of the country and its people
generally. Contact with it is justified and desirable .
2.20 In his opening statement in evidence before the Committee, Mr Hawke
quoted extensively from a briefing paper on Burma supplied to him by the
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in January 1995. He
concentrated on the positive developments outlined in the paper as, he
daid, they had influenced his decision to take up the invitation to visit
Burma. He noted:
* the dialogue that had begun in 1994 between senior State Law an
Order Restoration Council (SLORC) figures and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,
* the release of 2,000 detainees,
* the lifting of the curfew,
* the replacement of military courtes with civilian ones,
*the visit to some prominent political prisoners by international
* the existence of the National Convention,
* the removal of reservations on the Convention on the Rights of
* the invitation to the INternational Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC) to train soldiers in international humanitarian law,
* the agreement for UNited Nations High Commission for Refugees
(UNHCR) monitoring of the repatriation and reintegration of the
Rohingya refugees from the Bangladesh border,
* the achievement of ceasefires with a number of border groups, and
* some limited economic reform .
2.21 Mr MIchael Nyunt also characterised Burma as a place where 'real and
substantial changes had taken place, particularly since 1993'. On human
rights he believed there had 'never really been a problem' in Burma.
'Dangerous' political prisoners had been held without trial but not
executed. His former law partner, U Ye Htoon, sentenced to 12 and 18 years
and placed in solitary confinement, had not been physically tortured.
'Human Rights did not seriously concern the average Myanmar citizen'. Mr
Nyunt claimed there is no, and never was any, religious discrimination in
Myanmar. There is no forced labour for peaceful projects. He waw the
leadership as 'clean, efficient, hardworking, educated and caring',.
Aung San Suu Kyi was sincere but surrounded by sycophants. She had poor
interperson skills and yet her personality cult was likely to destabilise
the fledgling democracy. Sh had no interest in the ethnic minorities and
the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma(NCGUB) is a
forgotten group within Myanmar .
2.22 Finally, Mr Nyunt put the proposition that Burma could not afford
Western style democracy or Australian style unionism. It was intent on
development and attracting investment and tourists.
 MIchael Nyunt submission, pp. S29-30.
 Oddly, he believed that, 'After the National Convention has completed
its task and the constitution promulgated, a constitutional government will
materialise to lead the country.'
 ibid., pp. S29-40.
 ibid., pp. S42-43. NB The ICRC left Burma in 1995 in frustration at
the lack of proper private access to prisoners.
 Evidence, 24 February 1995, pp. 48-49.
 Evidence, 24 February 1995, pp. 45-46.
 Mr MIchael Nyunt submission, p. S21.
 ibid., p. S23.
 ibid., p. S22-24.