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Subject: BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT OCT 95 (4.1-4.14)

/* posted Sun 4 Feb 6:00am 1995 by DRUNOO@xxxxxxxxxxxx(DR U NE OO) in igc:reg.burma */
/* -----------" BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT, OCT 95 (4.1-4.14) "---------- */
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 FOUR: (4.1 - 4.14)
The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia
Joint Standing Committee of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

IN BURMA (MYANMAR)     October 1995

The Historical Perspective

4.1  The  mordern state of Burma, like many nation states, is an artificial
construction,   resulting   from   historical   developments,   wars    and
colonisation.  There is little perceived connection, and often considerable
suspicion, between many of the people included in its borders. As a result,
the people of the border regions of Burma have always displayed a degree of
independence; they have been separated both ethnically  and  geographically
from  those  of  the central plains. Non-Burman ethnic groups make up 30-40
per cent of the population and occupy 55 per  cent  of  the  land  area  of
Burma[1].   These  significant ethnic minorities are also indigenous to the
land. They include the Karen (10.2%), the Shan or Tai (7.7%), the Arakanese
(3.7%), the Mons(2.5%), the Chin (2.4%), the Kachin (1.1%) and the Kayak or
Karenni and other smaller indigenous groups  (2.5%).  In  contrast  to  the
Burmans  of  the lowland plains, these groups live in scattered communities
in the  mountanious  regions  of  the  borders.  [2]  In  terms  of  ethnic
composition,   the  indigenous  Burmans  are  the  dominant  political  and
religious group and have, since the eleventh  century,  assimilated  others
into their culture.

4.2  Under  British  rule,  as  early  as  1922,  this separateness and the
independence which sprang from it was redcognised in the  creation  of  the
federation  of Northern and Southern Shan States. Trade and financial links
between the frontier areas and the central administration increased  during
the  colonial  period;  however  there  were different rates of development
between the central and the border regions with the border lagging  benind.
Colonial  policy  also  exacerbated  the  tensions  between the groups. The
British used Indians in the administration rather than Burmans; in the army
they preferred Christian Karens or the  Shans  to  Burmans.  World  War  II
unleashed resentment against minority groups in the form of racial riots in
1942 violence against the Indian population and the Karens.

4.3  British plans for representative councils had not been put in place by
the time the war  began,  and  upon  reoccupation  the  British  Government
instituted  a centralised rather than afederal form of administration. This
was a reversal of the trend colonial administration had taken and  it  flew
in  the  face  of  an  almost universal desire for greater autonomy. It was
vigoriously resisted.

4.4  In  1947,  during  the  phase  of  the  interim  government  prior  to
independence,  the  Burma Executive Council met with representatives of the
frontier peoples to discuss aspects of London Agreement which was to be the
basis of a new constitution for an independent Burma. The outcome  of  this
meeting,  the  Panlong Agreement of 1947, determined the principles for the
ultimate  association  of  the  frontier  peoples  with  the  new   Burmese
Government. It stated that frontier peoples should:

        * be entitled to fundamental democratic rights;
        * have the right to full autonomy in the internal sphere; and
        *  be entitled to receive a measure of assistance from the revenues
        of Ministerial Burma.[3]

4.5 The Panlong Agreement (1947) created a Supreme Council  of  the  United
Hill  Peoples.  It was ratified by the Shans, the Chins and the Kachins but
not the Karens, the chins of the Arakan Hill Tracts, the Nagas of the  Was.
Then  in  June 1947, the Frontier Areas Committee of Inquiry recommended to
the British Government 'elastic  interim  arrangements'  until  the  border
regions  developed.  Nevertheless,  they also recommended that the ultimate
aim and the best solution to the aspirations of teh people on  the  borders
would be a federal constitution for Burma. The assurance by the nationalist
leader,  General  Aung  San, that the ethnic minorities would receive equal
political status through a federal constitution was short lived.  Aung  San
was  assassinated  in 1948, the 1947 Constitution was amended and a unitary
state was formed.

4.6 The Karen, the Mon and the Karenni took up  arms  against  the  central
government.  In  1958 after a split in the ruling party of Prime Minister U
Nu, Ne Win  instituted  a  caretaker  government.  Teh  elections  of  1960
reaffirmed  U  Nu's  popularity.  In 1961 a Conference of teh Ethnic States
Unity and Solidarity Organisation reasserted the adherence  of  teh  ethnic
minorities  to  the  principles  underlying  the  Panlong Agreement, namely
federalism and the right  to  self-determination.  At  the  same  time  teh
conference  supported the determination of the Shan and the Karennni not to
secede from the union. Claiming imminent national disintegration,  Ne  Win,
in  1962,  overthrew the democratically elected government and arrested all
of the constitutionally elected Burmese national and ethnic leaders [4]. He
ruled for twelve years without  a  constitution  before  feeling  confident
enough  to  formalise his power in the 1974 constitution. This constitution
entrenched the power of the military through the  Burma  Socialist  Program
Party  (BSPP) in a one party state. This situation has been repeated in the
last six years.

4.7 The civil wars have continued. The fighting is sometimes  sporadic  and
sometimes  fierce  and  the  allegiances between and among groups have been
shifting and complicated. Alliances are influenced  by  both  economic  and
political  considerations.  The licrative and corrupting effect of the drug
trade further complicates any analysis of  motives and  intentions.  Burman
nationalism  and  hegemony  has  set  itself  against  the  demand  by  the
non-Burman groups for ethnic diversity  within  the  state  or,  at  times,

4.8 A large measure of the human rights abuses of the regime are attributed
to  the  pursuit  of  these  armed struggles. Along with internal political
oppression, the military action is the source over the last  ten  years  of
the  huge  outflows  of  refugees along Burma's land borders with Thailand,
China, India and Bangladesh. The Burmese military, well armed  but  lacking
logistical  support, has forced large numbers of local ethnic men and women
into porterage duties.  The  results  are  well  documented  -  exhaustion,
starvation,  beatings,  rape of women and the arbitrary killing of the sick
or old. Since 1988 the border camps and the ethnic wars have been  injected
with  the  added  political  factor  of  the  presence  of  members  of the
government-in-exile, the National Coalition  Government  of  the  Union  of
Burma (NCGUB).


4.9 The raison d'etre of its existence according to the State Law and Order
Restoration Council is to preserve national unity in the face of separatist
struggles  by  minorities  on  Burma's borders. The Government of Burma has
heralded the recent ceasefires as its most significant achievement,  as  an
example  of  national  reconciliation  and  as  the  precursor  to national
development. At February 1995, Maung Aye, the Burmese Ambassador to the UN,
listed 13 groups as having returned to the legal fold: 1.  Kokang  National
Group;  2.  Wa  National  Group;  3.  Shan  State  Army (SSA); 4. Shan Ahka
National Group; 5. New Democratic Army (Kachin,  NDA);  6.  Kachin  Defence
Army   (KDA);  7.  Pa-O  National  Organisation  (PNO);  8.  Palaung  State
Liberation  Party  (PSLP);  9.  Kayan  National  Guard  (KNG);  10.  Kachin
Independence  Organization  (KIO); 11. Karenni National People's LIberation
Front (KNPLF); 12. Karen New Land Party (KNLP); 13. Shan  Natiola  Peoples'
Liberation Organisation (SNPLO).

4.10 Mr Bertil Lintner [5] described the groups which had signed ceasefires
with teh SLORC in more detail. He listed only 11 groups:

4.11 Four groups which had made up the Peoples' Army of the Communist Party
of   Burma(CPB),   divided  along  ethnic  lines,  signed  a  ceasefire  in
March-April 1989:

        * the New Democratic Army, the former CPB 101 War  Zone  in  Kachin
        State - Kambaiti and Panwa Areas. A small groups of 300-400 men.
        *  the  Myanmar  National  Democratic Alliance Army, the former CPB
        forces in Kokang - a district of teh Shan State dominated by ehtnic
        Chinese. 1,500 - 2,000 men.
        * the United Wa State Army. The main group 10,000 - 15,000 men.
        * the former CPB 815 War Zone in eastern  Shan  State  -  north  of
        Kengtung. 1,500 - 2,000 men

        * in September 1989, the Shan State Army, which had a military pact
        with the CPB, 2,000 men.
        * in December 1990, the 4th Brigade of the Kachin Independence Army
        - north eastern Shan State. 800-900 men.
        *in March 1991, teh Pa-O National Army. 400-500 men.
        * in April 1991, the Palaung State Liberation Army. 700-800 men.
        * in February 1994, the main KIA.
        *  in  mid-1994,  the  Karenni  National Peoples' Liberation Front.
        200-300 men.
        *  in  mid-1994,  the  Shan  State  National  Peoples'   Liberation
        Organisation. 600-700 men.

4.12  At  the end of 1994 it was estimated by Mr Lintner that the following
armed factions were still fighting the Government in Rangoon:

        * the Karen National Union. 3,000-3,500 men.
        * the New Mon State Party. 800-1,000 men.
        * Karenni National Progressive Party. 600-700 men.
        * the Mong Tai Army - Khun Sa's army. Approximately 18,000 men.
        * the Chin National Army.
        * the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation. A few hundred men in arms.
        * the Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front. A smaller Rohingya faction.
        * the National Socialist Council of Nagaland. Two factions -  total
        strength possibly 1,000 men.
        * a few smaller Arakanese groups such as the Arakan Liberation Army
        and the Arakan Army [6].

4.13 The Committee was offered the following explanation for the ceasefire:

        With  the  exception  of the Kachin and the Wa, the other ten armed
        groups that SLORC has negotiated ceasefires with each  number  less
        than 500 men. Some have been attracted solely by the opportunity to
        trade  (  some  grups  have  become more active in the illegal drug
        trade), some are attracted by the opportunity to trade as  well  as
        to  develop  their ethnic area (many or the areas are poor and have
        been devastated by four decades of  fighting  )  others  have  been
        attracted  by  the  promise  of local autonomy and future political
        participation (at least six groups live in the Shan State and would
        like their own ethnic homeland). Yet others  have  negotiated  with
        SLORC because of pressure from neighbouring countries [7].

4.14  More  importantly,  the  argument  was  put to the Committee that the
ceasefires were purly military agreements and hence  offered  no  political
solution  which  might  endure  [8].  Dr Alan Smith saw the ceasefires as a
result of 'determined  and  powerful  intervention  by  certain  groups  in
neighbouring  Thailand'.   The  effect he argued was 'to allow the SLORC to
end the civil wars on its terms,  neutralise  the  democracy  movement  and
entrench itself in power [9]'. He concluded:

        This  is  no  vindication of 'constructive engagement' of a kind of
        which ASEAN can be proud. It represents the bankruptcy of  regional
        and  international  conflict  resolution  procedures.  There  is an
        urgent  need  for  'corrective  diplomacy'   to   convert   imposed
        ceasefires   into  an  opportunity  for  peace  through  a  genuine
        political settlement [10].

[1] Exhibit No 8, National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, 'The
Ceasefire Negotiations', p.2.

[2] Joint Standing Committee on Foreign  Affairs,  Defence  and  Trade,  'A
Review of Australia's Effort to Promote and Protect Human Rights', November
1994, p. 238.

[3]  Weller,  Marc,  Democracy  and  Politics in Burma, Government Printing
Office of the National Coalition Government of the Union  of  Burma,  1993,

[4]  International  Commission of Jurists and the Overseas Burma Liberation
Front supplementary submission, p. S669.

[5] Mr Lintner is a journalist with the Far Eastern Economic Review  and  a
longstanding commentator on Burmese affairs.

[6] Australia-Burma Council submission, p. S338.

[7] ibid., p. S334.

[8] Australia-Burma Council submission, p. S334.

[9] Dr Alan Smith submission, p. S447.

[10] ibid.,p. S447.