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BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT OCT 95 (2 (r)
Subject: BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT OCT 95 (2.51-2.75)
/* posted Wed Jan 31 6:00am 1995 by DRUNOO@xxxxxxxxxxxx(DR U NE OO) in igc:reg.burma */
/* -----------" BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT, OCT 95 (2.51-2.75) "---------- */
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: (2.51 - 2.75)
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 (2.51 - 2.75)
Detention without Trial/Political Detention
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing
by an independent and importial tribunal, in the determination of
his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against.
2.51 Human rights standards seek more than anything else to protect the
individual from the arbitrary wielding of power by governments. In this,
the record of SLORC over the last five years have been very poor. The
arbitrary nature of thier wielding of power stems from the illegality of
their seizure of power. After such an act, the rule of law can have little
2.52 Over the past five years thousands have been deteined without trial or
charge or on political charge made on the basis of vague laws. The numbers
are uncertain as the Government is secretive about its processes. However,
since 1992, 2,000 people detained under the emergency regulations have
reportedly been released. This in itself is some measure of the scale of
the practice. Claims of improvement based on the releases and the lesser
frequency of arrests have been disputed by those who see the decline as
evidence of the successful intimidation of the population and the
demoralisation of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the victorious
party at the 1990 election.
2.53 Alternatively, it has been claimed that the improvement is in fact
non-existent as detention have continued, particularly as a result of
rallies or demonstrations coinciding with the anniversaries of former
political crises. Whiel many of the high profile detainees have been
released, and the releases widely advertised by the regime, the lesser
known students, monks and politicians remain in goal. It is said that 35 to
40 elected members of Parliament  are still imprisoned. Estimates of
the numbers of dissidents still held vary from 400 to 3,000.
2.54 The most famous detainee, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, General Secretary of
the NLD, was released on 10 July 1995. The Committee welcomes her release.
However her long detention without charge or trial is indicative of the
problem of arbitrary arrest and detention in Burma. Its motives were
blatantly political and its extension first from three to five and then
from five to six years was arbitrarily decided upon by the SLORC's
amendments to the 1975 'Law for Safeguarding the State from Dangerous
Subversive Elements'. This law, in Section 10(b), justifies the detention
of a citizen 'if there are reasons to believe that he has committed, or is
commiting, OR IS ABOUT TO COMMIT,(emphasis added) any act which infringes
the sovereignty and security of the state or public peace and tranquility.'
The decision on whether an offence has occurred rests with a 'Central Body,
consisting of the Minister for Home Affairs, the Minister for Defence and
the Minister for Foreign Affairs '.
2.55 Detention on the basis of what one might do does not meet
international standards of justice. Moreover, it would appear from the
cases in the documents presented to the Committee that the security of the
state is interpreted as synonymous with the security, ie immunity from
criticism, of the ruling junta.
2.56 The legal process appears to be deficient in a number of significant
* The speed with which some cases are dealt. Four people were
arrested, charged, tried and sentenced to death in the space of two
days in January 1994 for the alleged murder of a student.
* Bribery is said to be common in affecting the outcomes of trials.
*Political cases are almost all heard inside the prison and are not
open to the public.
* Sentences are disproportionate to the offences, particularly in
political cases where sentences of seven to twenty years have been
given for what can only be described as normal, peaceful political
activity - the distribution of leaflets, criticism of the
Government, pleas for democratic processes in the National
2.57 However, some improvements in the legal process have occurred. After
considerable pressure from the UN and Governments around the world,
military courts were abolished in 1992. Criminal cases are tried in public
courts and defence counsel is provided for the defendant. All death
sentences were commuted in November 1992.
2.58 The Committee recommends that:
4. THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT URGE THE GOVERNMENT OF BURMA TO ENSURE
THAT ALL TRIALS ARE CONDUCTED ACCORDING TO INTERNALLY ACCEPTED
STANDARDS OF JUSTICE - THAT THEY ARE OPEN AND ACCESSIBLE, THAT ALL
DEFENDENTS HAVE COUNSEL OF THEIR CHOICE, AND THAT SENTENCES ARE
COMMENSURATE WITH THE OFFENCE.
Conditions in Prison/Torture, Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or
degrading treament or punishment.
2.59 The allegations of torture in prisons, particularly during
investigatins are persistent. Amnesty International provided a list of
prisoners about whom it has received specific information of beatings, lack
of medical treatment and prolonged solitary confinement. Between 1988 and
1993 Amnesty International has recorded 15 deaths in custody .
2.60 In December 1993, conditions in Insein Goal were described by a Karen
farmer who spent three years as a political prisoner there. He was released
in Octover 1993. The following is an extract:
Many times I saw prisoners being beaten and tortured, usually for
stealing, gambling or quarrelling. First the guards beat them with
a rubber pipe, and then they took them to the gravel path. ... they
order the victim to crawl along it on his elbows and knees. They
follow him with two or three dogs biting his legs. To escape their
biting, the victim tries to crawl back to the cell as fast as he
can on the gravel, so he scrapes all the skin off his elbows and
legs. I saw them do this at least once or twoce a month, especially
in the hot season. ... They tortured some of our hunger strike
leaders with the dogs on the gravel path.
When we had fever they never gave us any medicine. If it gets very
bad then they send you to the prison hospital, where many people
die. ... while I was there about five people in my room died. ...
We sometimes heard that foreigners were coming to see the goal and
the prisoners' conditions. When this happened, the officials didn't
show them our wards; they showed them the wing that is used for
training goal administration workers. The trainees put on convicts'
dress and were presented to them as prisoners .
2.61 The Special Rapporteur was also told that the inmates had been busy
for three days prior to his arrival, painting and cleaning the prison
2.62 Mr Yokota also recorded that he had received accounts from reliable
witnesses and photographic evidence of overcrowding in goals, poor hygiene
and even the torture of prisoners. Included in the claims of torture were
the very serious allegations of beatings, shackling, near suffocation,
burning, stabbing, rubbing of salt and chemicals into open wounds and
psychological torture including threats of death.
2.63 The submission from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and
Trade stated that there had been no recent, confirmed reports of torture
and believed that the practice might have declined . The US state
Department Country Report also believed that the worst forms of torture
were in the recent past (prior to 1994) but characterised the treatment of
prisoners as unacceptably harsh, including sleep and food deprivation .
2.64 The Government of Burma claims that it does not torture its citizens.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, U Ohy Gyaw, told the United Nations,
'Torture, ill-treatment of prisoners and degrading punishment are strictly
prohibited.' Moreover he claimed, 'We have cooperated fully with the United
Nations and have faithfully responded to all human rights questions .'
2.65 However, this claim is not supported by the Special Rapporteur's
report of his visit to Burma in November 1994. He says of his visit to
mandalay goal that, '[he] was not allowed to see any of the detainees, nor
was he allowed to see the cells.' Of his visit to Insein prison, he says
that, '[he] was not allowed to see all the detainees he had requested to
meet. ... After repeated requests ...[he] was allowed to meet only three
detained political leaders' and ...' the meetings took place in the
presence of the Prison Warden; several of the prison guards recorded tha
interviews and a group of photographers were also present.'
2.66 It is notable that the International Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC)
has also withdrawn from Burma because the Government did not fulfil its
requirement of proper, private access to prisoners. The suspicion that the
mistreatment of prisoners continues will remain so long as access of this
kind is denied. The Burmese Government can make no claims about cooperation
with the United Nations when visits are mainpulated in this way. Such
public and supervised visits to prisons have limited value unless it is for
the propaganda purposes of the regime.
2.67 The Committee recommends that:
THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT URGE THE GOVERNMENT OF BURMA TO:
(A) RATIFY THE CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE AND CRUEL, INHUMAN AND
DEGRADING PUNISHMENT (CAT);
(B) ELIMINAT FROM ITS PRISONS ALL PRACTICES INVOLVING PHYSICAL
ABUSE OR TORTURE;
(C) INSTITUTE PROCEEDINGS AGAINST ALL OFFICIALS GUILTY OF THE ABUSE
(D) GIVE TRAINING TO PRISON OFFICERS, POLICE AND MILITARY PERSONNEL
IN THE STANDARDS EXPECTED OF SUCH PERSONNEL IN THE HUMAN RIGHTS
INSTRUMENTS AND HUMANITARIAN LAW; AND
(E) ALLOW REPRESENTATIVES OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED
CROSS FULL, PRIVATE ACCESS TOPRISONERS IN BURMESE GOALS.
Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
1. Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be
presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a public
trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his
2.68 Arbitrary execution is most common in the border regions where porters
or prisoners or ordinary villagers are likked frequently. The army in these
regions appears to be a law unto itself. It appears that no prosecutions
against army officers have occurred as a result of such killings. Reliable,
monthly reports covering hundreds of documented cases of torture and
arbitrary executions have been supplied to the Committee throughout the
length of this inquiry.
2.69 The following is typical of the stories which emnates from all border
regions and, in the documents received by this Committee, cover the period
from s1991 until the present. This event was reported by Amnesty
International and concerns the deliberate killing of three young men by
soldiers of teh 99th Dividion in March 1994;
... he did not know soldiers had come and they captured him. ...
The three girls saw the men killed and were very frightened. They
said that before the men were killed they were tortured. The
soldiers put them in the water and hit them. ... When we went to
see the body we had to dig them up as they had been buried. Only
one had his thriat slit, the other two were just stabbed .
2.70 In private evidence before the Committee, a witness related a number
of incidents of arbitrary execution including:
People [have been] killed in Moulmein, which is south of Rangoon.
Two people were quarrelling. One of them was an ethnic Indian and
the other person was a Burmese. The military arrested them. When
they were investigating why they were having a quarrel, the Muslim
national died. They gave his body back to the relatives .
2.71 Ms Corinne Armour, an Australian teacher who had worked in the refugee
camps on the border, told the Committee:
I have heard media claims by SLORC that there are no human rights
problems in Burma. Claims like this make me want to laugh and cry.
I have seen the evidence and I have heard so many tales to the
I would like to talk about my camp, a relatively small camp with a
population of 3,570 Karen refugees. On 9 March  at 1.30am,
Burma's human rights abuses impacted yet again on the life of
Veronica, a student in my English class. Armed men attacked her hut
outside the camp's perimeter, stealing money from Veronica's mother
and murdering her father and her 29 year old brother, himself the
father of four. The attackers were DKBA and SLORC and as evidence I
offer the testimony of Veronica's mother's photos of teh dead men
taken later that morning. ....
I could [also] quote you the testimony of a porter. Most of the
porters who do escape can tell tales of death. This was 20 year old
poeter who escaped on 14 March and made it to the Thai-Burmese
border. In an interview with human rights reporter he said: 'One
man was lying by the road. His head was bloody and he had been
beaten to death. I saw another body, an old man beside the road. A
third man could no longer carry anything so a soldier hit him on
the chest and head. Then he started hitting him on the shoulder
with a 75mm shell. The porter said to the soldier, 'Kill me. I
cannot go anymore.' then the soldier just kicked him down the hill
so we do not know for sure if he died, but I think so .
2.72 The UN Special Rapporteur drew a number of cases of reported summary
executions to the attention of the Burmese government. The overall response
appears to have been one of denial and, although there appears to be some
evidence. According to the Special Rapporteur, of the army attempting to
discipline its soldiers, his final assessment is that little progress has
However, the Special Rapporteur cannot deny, in view of so many
detailed and seemingly reliable reports, that violations appear to
be committed consistently and on a wide scale by the soldiers of
the Myanmar Army against innocent villagers (particularly those
belonging to ethnic minorities) in the form of summary or
extrajudicial executions and arbitrary killings which occur in the
context of forced labour, rape, forced relocation and confiscation
of property .
2.74 The Committee recommends that:
THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT URGE THE GOVERNMENT OF BURMA TO:
(A) BRING THE CONDUCT OF ITS MILITARY OFFICERS INTO COMPLIANCE WITH
ACCEPTED STANDARDS OF BEHAVIOUR IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE GENEVA
CONVENTIONS AND THE INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS CONVENTIONS;
(B) TAKE PROCEEDINGS AGAINST MEMBERS OF THE MILITARY GUILTY OF
ARBITRARY KILLING, RAPE AOR THE BEATING OF CIVILIAN PORTERS OR
(C) CONTROL THE MILITARY TO ENSRE THAT THERE IS NO CONFISCATION OF
2.75 Reports continue to be made of gross human rights abuses in Burma, in
the Special Rapporteur's words, 'consistently and on a wide scale.' Teh
concessions which the Government of Burma has made, and made only under
great international pressure - the abolition of military tribunals, the
release of some of the high profile political detainees and the cessation
of official executions - are important but, since they rely on the will or
the whim of the Government, there is no certainty that these abuses will
not occur in a great a measure at any time. No structural changes have been
made which might assist in the long term protection of human rights. This
requires the perpetrators of abuses to be brought to justice, the
establishment of an independent judiciary and a freepress, a recognition of
the rights of a democratic opposition and the subordination of the army to
an elected civilian government. There is no sign of any intention on the
part of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) that they will
implement democratic changes which would ensure this kind of
 Recent releases include Dr Aung Khin Sint, former National Convention
delegate accused of distributing a pamphlet during the Convention, Tin Moe,
a poet and Win Tin a Central Committee Executive Member of the NLD.
 NCGUB, 'A Brief Report on the Human Rights Situation', op.cit.p.3. NB
This number is regularly changing. The IPU reported in its mid-1995 report
that 15 elected members remain in prison.
 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, op.cit.
 NCGUB, 'A Brief Report on the Human Rights Situation', op.cit.p.3.
 Report of the Special Rappporteur, op.cit.p.24.
 Amnesty International, Myanmar: Human rights still denied,
 Exhibit No.1, Current Conditions inside Insein Prison, supplied by the
Australia Burma Council.
 Report of the Special Rapporteur, op.cit.p.27.
 Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade submission, p. S492.
 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, op.cit.
 Michael Nyunt supplementary submission, p. S42.
 Report of the Special Rapporteur, op.cit.pp.15-16.
 Amnesty International, op.cit.p.15.
 In-camera evidence, 26 May 1995, p.97.
 Evidence, 19 May 1995, pp. 152-155.
 Report of the Special Rapporteur, op.cit.p.23.