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BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT OCT 95 (4
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
A REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE LACK OF PROGRESS TOWARDS DEMOCRACY
IN BURMA (MYANMAR) October 1995
CHAPTER FOUR: BORDER REGIONS (4.1 - 4.14)
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. 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.  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
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.
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 . 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
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  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
* 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.
* 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 .
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 .
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 . 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 '. 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 .
 Exhibit No 8, National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, 'The
Ceasefire Negotiations', p.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.
 Weller, Marc, Democracy and Politics in Burma, Government Printing
Office of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, 1993,
 International Commission of Jurists and the Overseas Burma Liberation
Front supplementary submission, p. S669.
 Mr Lintner is a journalist with the Far Eastern Economic Review and a
longstanding commentator on Burmese affairs.
 Australia-Burma Council submission, p. S338.
 ibid., p. S334.
 Australia-Burma Council submission, p. S334.
 Dr Alan Smith submission, p. S447.
 ibid.,p. S447.