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BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT OCT 95 (2 (r)
Subject: BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT OCT 95 (2.32-2.50)
/* posted Tue Jan 30 6:00am 1995 by DRUNOO@xxxxxxxxxxxx(DR U NE OO) in igc:reg.burma */
/* -----------" BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT, OCT 95 (2.32-2.50) "---------- */
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: (2.32 - 2.50)
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 (2.32 - 2.50)
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his
privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks on his
honour or reputation. Everyone has the rights to the protection of
the law against such interference or attacks.
2.32 Burma was described to the Committee as an 'informer society in which
there is expansive and complete coverage of the country by the intelligence
services.' Another witness claimed that where there are 'four or five
people gathered together, there will always be military intelligence
around. It is common knowledge.' Information is sought from citizens by
the military police as a matter of routine. 'On the walls of offices there
are posters with slogans saying: Discipline is necessary for development.
Please give information in return.' In June 1994, Myanmar radio
announced that the Government had awarded decorations to those who had
informed on others. Another witness described how visitors, Burmese
returning to Burma, who had entered legally, were checked on every two days
by military intelligence. This included interrogation in the middle of the
2.33 A significant organisation for the survelliance of the population and
the detection of political unorthodoxy is the Union Solidarity and
Development Association (USDA). Established in 1993, its task is the
penetration of local communities to influence, control and supervise them.
Amnesty International claims that unofficial sources have reported that 'in
June 1994 USDA were given instruction by members of military intelligence
on how to detect people distributing political leaflets '.
Freedom of Expression/Freedom of the Press
Everyone one has the right to freedom of opinion and expression;
this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference
and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any
media and regardless of frontiers.
2.34 The effect of pervasive survelliance is to intimidate the population
and create a climate of fear and distrust. It remains illegal to pass
information to foreigners and recent arrests and prosecutions with severe
penalties have enforced this law . The UN Special Rapporteur reported
in 1994 that many people were too afraid to talk to him.
2.35 There is no free press in Burma, including where commentary on
political matters is concerned. Government censorship and self-censorship
both operate and the distribution of written material is controlled by the
Government. The television and other media outlets are used for propaganda
by the Government; no opposition views are given coverage . The
Australian Government in its submission to the Committee concluded that
'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.'
2.36 The US State Department country report on Burma notes that there has
been increased access for foreign journalists in Burma; however their
movements and access to contacts are closely monitored. Foreign radio
broadcasts from overseas services are impossible to stop and remain a
source of uncensored information for Burmese citizens. Registration for
satellite dishes has been limited and in 1994 it was reported that foreign
language videos were mostly removed from video rental outlets in a military
2.37 Teachers and university lecturers must follow a politically correct
line in support of the government. Not only could they not criticise the
Government, they were held directly responsible for the attitudes of their
students. The Committee was also told that 'teachers are regularly exposed
to what are called refresher courses, which I am sure are designed to
guarantee their political correctness.' Political propaganda was a
feature of the school curriculum.
The children are good at slogans ... It would be fair to
characterise that situation as one where the education system is
used by the military, and probably always has been, to try and
project those political, social and economic objectives in the
wider society - certainly through the teachers .
2.38 The Committee recommends that:
2. THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT URGE THE GOVERNMENT OF BURMA, TO
RELINQUISH GOVERNMENT CONTROL OVER THE MEDIA AND TO ENCOURAGE A
FREE AND VIGOROUS PRESS, IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF
THE UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR.
Freedom of Movement/Freedom of Assembly
Every one has the right to freedom of movement and residence within
the borders of each state.
Everyone has the rights to leave any country, including his own,
and to return to his country.
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of assembly and association.
2. No-one may be compelled to belong to an association.
2.39 In relation to both freedom of movement and freedom of assembly in
ironic double standard appears to apply in Burma. On the one hand there are
restrictions on the rights of people to move freely or to assemble freely;
at the same time there is considerable evidence of forced relocation of
large numbers of people and staged rallies of large numbers of people in
support of the regime.
2.40 Most observers have noted an easing of restrictions on movement during
the lost twelve months. There is greater freedom for citizens to move
inside the country, although non-citizens, including Muslim and Chinese,
are required to inform authorities of their movements. Border areas remain
restricted for security reasons. Aid organizations are permitted to travel
to work on their projects, but they are accompanied by Government
officials. International travel remains difficult but not impossible.
Passport applications are reviewed by a board and decisions appeared to be
dependent on political considerations . However, entry visas for
returning Burmese are more readily available and for longer periods of
time. Many witnesses told the Committee that 28 day visas were available.
Most witnesses had not applied for visas. They worried that there was a
blacklist of political dissidents and informed the Committee that they had
no faith in the regime and did not trust that they would not be harassed or
2.41 The law prohibiting public gatherings of more than five people remains
in force although its use appears to be reserved for the prevention of
opposition political activity. Permission has to be sought even to hold
private meetings of legal political parties. Any association, whether a
professional organisation, a union or social group, required Government
2.42 On the other hand, a large number of Government sponsored mass rallies
took place in 1994. Many were organised by USDA. Public servants,
students and others were compelled to attend on pain of fine, dismissal or
failure at examinations. The rallies sought to portray mass support for the
SLORC and particularly for the National Convention.
2.43 Most disturbing of all are the claims of forced relocation of people
on a mass scale. At times this has been used as a means of countering the
insurgency in the border regions but it is by no means confined to these
areas. The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB)
estimates the numbers involved in internal displacement could be somewhere
between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people, although it admits that accuracy of
information is made difficult by the poor communications within Burma and
with the outside world. The UN Special Rapporteur was informed of the
same process. He reported that relocation occrred without compensation and
at short notice. People were not allowed to take their property with them.
They were moved to make way for development projects, tourist constructions
or, on the borders, to deprive insurgent groups of their support base.
2.44 The Special Rapporteur had reports of forced relocations in Yangon,
Mandalay, and Yan-bye. He listed a number of specific instances:
* 80 persons forced to leave Kyein-ta-li village, Rakhine State, 9
* 1,500 persons forced to leave Nga-let village, Min-pya township,
Northern Rakhine State, 13 July 1994;
* 250 households forced to leave Ngla village, Minbya township,
* 360 households forced to leave Kawalong village, Myauk U
township, 4 October 1994 /
2.45 Amnesty International put the face of human misery to this process:
Our village had to move - that's why I came here ... they ask us to
go or would burn our house. They burned my house. They gave us two
days' notice to move. No compensation. New place was twenty miles
away. Twenty houses had to move. Ten each went to two new places
I came two weeks ago. I came because I had to move from ... village
to [another village] and then to [another village] and then back to
[the first village]. One year in each place then told to move back
to [the first village] in April last year. If we don't move then
we'll be beaten .
2.46 This is a story that was repeated dozens of times in the documents
supplied to this Committee.
Freedom of Religion
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and
religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or
belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and
in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in
teaching, practice, worship and observance.
2.47 The law in Burma provides for freedom of religion and it appears that
worship in any denomination is neither interfered with nor prohibited.
However, the Committee was told that the SLORC is increasingly using the
majority religion, Buddhism, to enhance its legitimacy and has promoted
dissension between Buddhist and Christian and Muslim groups in the border
regions as a means of political dividion and military advantage. Such
policies have unleashed religious persecution. The Committee was given
copies of inflammatory documents denouncing Christian practices and beliefs
said to be circulating in the Karen region.
2.48 The incidents of religious persecution include the destruction of
churches and mosques, resumption of land used as cemeteries, refusal of
building permits for the building of new churches, limitations on visas for
clergymen to travel either into or out of the country, the resumption of
religious buildings from communities on the grounds that the people could
not prove legal title . Typical of the stories told to the Committee is
The government wanted the land and the building in Rangoon. The
church refused to sell or to give it, so the congregation was just
relocated outside, in a satellite town, and dispersed. So there was
not anybody there anyway. They lost their land .
2.49 Some discrimination is coincidental with factors other than religion.
Land is confiscated and people relocated for a range of reasons.
Disadvantage regarding rights to adoption, political status or employment
affects all non-citizens although it strikes the Muslim Rohinghas in
particular.( See Chapter 4)
2.50 The Committee recommends that:
3. THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMETN URGE THE GOVERNMENT OF BURMA, IN
ACCORDANCE WITH ITS OBLIGATIONS AS A MEMBER OF THE UN AND USING THE
UN HUMAN RIGHTS CONVENTIONS AS A FRAMEWORK, TO:
(A) INCLUDE WITHIN ITS NEW CONSTITUTION SPECIFIC GUARANTEES FOR THE
PROTECTION OF TE RIGHTS TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, RELIGION,
ASSOCIATION, ASSEMBLY AND THE PRESS; AND
(B) REPEAL ALL LAWS WHICH PROHIBIT FREE ASSOCIATION AND
PARTICULARLY THE FREE PARTICIPATION IN THE POLITICAL LIFE OF THE
COUNTRY (SLORC ORDERS 2/88, 4/91, THE 1950 EMERGENCY PROVISION ACT,
THE 1957 UNLAWFUL ASSOCIATION ACT, THE 1962 PRINTERS AND
PUBLICATIONS ACT AND THE 1975 STATE PROTECTION LAW.)
 All articles quoted in this chapter are from the Universal Declaration
on Human Rights. It is important to note that the then Government of Burma
voted for this declaration in 1948. And by remaining a member of the United
Nations, Burma pledges itself to these principles and the principles
contained in the Charter.
 Evidence, 12 May 1995. p.128.
 In-camera evidence, 26 May 1995, p.99.
 ibid., p.93.
 Amnesty International, op.cit. p.4.
 In-camera evidence, 26 May 1995, p. 87.
 Amnesty International, op.cit. p.4.
 Notable is the case of Dr Khin Zaw Win who was charged in July 1994
with having made arrangements in 1992 to 'send fabricated news on Myanmar
to the Special Rapporteur during his visit in that year. Amnesty
International has listed a number of cases of people arrested under this
law and sentenced to periods of 7 to 15 years. See amnesty International,
Myanmar: Human rights still denied, November 1994, pp.5-9.
 The release of Aung San Suu Kyi was not announced by the media and
information had to filter slowly by word of mouth.
 Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade submission, p. S493.
 Country Reports on Human Rights Practice for 1994, op.cit.
 Evidence, 12 May 1995, p. 129.
 ibid., p. 130.
 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, op.cit.
 In December 1991 troops dispersed crowds demonstrating after the award
of the Nobel Peace Prize to Aung San Suu Kyi. Many were arrested. However
it is interesting to note that, since her release, groups of people have
been gathering regularly, watched but largely unimpeded by security,
outside Aung San Suu Kyi's house to hear her speak.
 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices op.cit.
 In January 1994 one rally was attended by four million people.
Students marched to the occasion; villagers were bussed in form surrounding
villages. See Amnesty International op.cit.p.3.
 Exihibit No. 12, Brief Report on Situation of Human Rights in Burma
1994, NCGUB Delagation to the 51st Session of the UN Commission on Human
Rights, Geneva, 20 Feb 1995, p.8.
 Report of the Special Rapporteur, op.cit. pp. 27-28.
 Amnesty International, op.cit. pp. 17-18.
 In-camera evidence, 26 May 1995, p. 108.
 Information on incidents relating to religious discrimination is to be
found in the Special Rapporteur's report, op.cit. p. 28 and the Country
reports on human rights practices, op.cit.p.8.
 In-camera evidence, June 1995, p. 121.