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BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT OCT 95 (5 (r)
Subject: BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT OCT 95 (5.32-5.50)
/* posted Fri 16 Feb 6:00am 1995 by DRUNOO@xxxxxxxxxxxx(DR U NE OO) in igc:reg.burma */
/* -----------" BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT, OCT 95 (5.32 -5.50) "---------- */
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 FIVE: (5.32 - 5.50)
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 FIVE: PROGRESS TOWARDS DEMOCRACY (5.32 - 5.50)
The Decimation of the Elected Government
5.32 After the violent suppression of the democracy movement in 1988 and
again after the election of 1990, the army set about destroying the
pro-democracy political forces in Burma. Thousands who did not escape to
the border were interrogated, tortured and iprisoned. The SLORC did this so
ruthlessly that they destroyed any credibility or popularity they might
have had with the electorate, evidenced by their achievement of less than
10 per cent of the vote.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
5.33 The most famous political detainee in Burma, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,
General Secretary and co-founder of the NLD, was released on 10 July 1995.
She is the greatest hope for democracy in Burma and now has the task of
rebuilding the NLD from the remnants left by six years of the SLORC's
5.34 Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of General Aung San who led the
independence movement against British rule and was assassinated in 1947.
She was educated in Burma, India and Oxford. She returned to Burma in 1988
at a time when opposition to the rule of the military junta had reached its
height. She co-founded the National League for Democracy in September 1988,
drawing together over 100 political parties. Her political impact, charisma
and appeal were immediate. She attracted mass rallies at more than a
hundred meetings in campaigning for the promised mational elections.
Criticism of the junta led to her being sentenced by the SLORC to house
arrest on 20 July 1989.
5.35 She was kept in virtual isolation for six years; only occasional
visits by her family and a visit from US Senator Bill Richardson and the
Buddhist monk, Rewetta Dhamma, were permitted. Colonel Kyaw Win, Deputy
Chief of Military Intelligence, informed her of her release in JUly 1995 in
terms she described as kind and cordial. No conditions were attached.
5.36 She committed herself to reconciliation:
We have to choose between dialogue and utter devastation. I would
like to believe that the human instanct for survival alone, if
nothing else, would eventually lead us to prefer dialogue. You may
ask what are we going to talk about once we reach the negotiation
table ? The establishment of certain principles, recognition of
critical objectives and joint approaches to the ills besetting the
country would be the main items on the agenda. Extreme viewpoints
are not confined to any particular group and it is the
responsibility of the leaders to control such elements that
threaten the spirit of reconciliation.
5.37 Her release was greeted internationally with relief and cautious
optimism. It was an event greatly welcomed by those who had campaigned for
her release. However, it would be odd to express gatitude or appreciation
for an event that should never have been necessary and, even within the
framework of the SLORC own laws, was over due. Moreover, in some quarters
it was seen as a cynical move on the part of the Government whose detention
of Aung San Suu Kyi had become 'legally' untenable and counterproductive to
its interests. The desire to expand the economic development of Burma
required greater acceptance of the regime by the regional powers and the
international financial institutions. The Government wished to sign the
Treaty of Amity and Cooperation with a view to full acceptance in ASEAN and
the release was well timed to precede the July ministerial meeting of ASEAN
and the September meeting of the UN's General Assembly. From the standpoint
of the SLORC the release might be not so much a concession but a measure of
its belief in its own strength.
5.38 The Committee recommends that:
THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT PRESS THE GOVERNMENT OF BURMA TO BEGIN
IMMEDIATE NEGOTIATIONS WITH DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI AND THE LEADERSHIP
OF THE NLD.
5.39 Given the number of problems within Burma, the illegality of the
government, the record of violence and brutality against citizens, the
aggression against ethnic minorities, the continuing detention of people
whose only fault was peaceful political activity, the lack of standard,
agreed-to freedoms of speech, assembly and political association, the
release of Aung San Suu Kyi is the most limited concession possible.
5.40 There remain many political prisoners in goal. The arrest of students
at the funeral of U Nu is a matter of great concern. No progress can be
made until all political detainees are released and their right to futhre
political participation is restored. Discussion with Aung San Suu Kyi and
the Members of the NLD and their inclusion in the constitutional
development process are essential.
5.41 Perosnal testimonies presented to the Committee give some insight into
the political violence of the regime. One student who had worked ofr the
democracy movement described his treatment at the hands of the military
intellegence force. He was taken from his house at midnight, beaten, kicked
and placed in a confined space under a mosquito infested urinal. He was
interrogated by drunken military intelligence police who beat him with
canes, applied electric shocks, suffocated him by placing a plastic bag
over his head and burnt his hand with an electric iron. His parents paid a
large bribe to get his a lighter sentence and a civil trial but even so he
spent two years in detention including a period working from 4am to 6pm
breadking rocks to build a 16 kilometer road. On his release he was unable
to obtain work. He experienced further detention in 1994 and witnessed the
beating of other political disidents. He has since been given entry to
5.42 Although a large number of political and other detainees have been
released since 1992, the IPU remains gravely concerned about the fate of
individual members of parliament still being held. Teh IPU has been
monitoring the cases of 83 members of parliament who were arrested after
the 20 May 1990 elections. The allegations include the death in prison in
1991 of one parliementarian, U Tin Manug Win, and the assassination of tow
other outside Burma, one in China, U Win Ko, and one in Thailand, U Hla Pe.
Many others have been detained, allegedly without charge or trial or have
received heavy sentences after summary trials . The list provided by
the IPU to this Committee still contains the names of 15 members of
parliament in detention . Two members of parliament, Khin maung Swe and
Sein Hla Oo were rearrested in August 1994. Other parliamentarians, U Kyi
Maung and six others were rearrested and detained for a week on 1 June
5.43 The response of the Government of Burma to the IPU is that 'reports
according to which political activists opposing the Government become
victims of torture and ill-treatment in detention are totally unfounded
'. On the specific question of the detention of the members of
parliament the Government claimed:
Should there be legal action taken against an individual it is
because that individual has violated the prevailing laws of the
state but not on the grounds of his political beliefs .
5.44 The problem lies in the nature of the 'prevailing laws'. The
'prevailing law' most often used to convict members of parliament in Burma
has been the '1950 Emergency Provision Act', especially section 5 (e).
However, other convictions have been attained under the '1962 Printers and
PUblishers Registration Act ', the '1957 Unlawful Associations Act
' and the '1975 State Protection Law '. A further decree which has
prevented political activity is Decree 2/88 which bans gathering, walking,
marching in procession, chanting slogans, delivering speeches, agitating
and creating disturbances in the streets by a group of five or more people
regardless of whether the act is with the intention of creating
disturbances or of committing a crime or not. The offences are variously
described by the Government as against the security of the state, involving
the illegal distribution of 'seditious' papers or as 'spreading
misinformation' through contact with foreigners, dissidents or the UN
5.45 A matter of great concern, especially given the doubtful nature of the
laws being used to detain parliamentarians-elect and countless political
activists, is the prohibition on their future participation in politics as
a result of their 'convictions '. It is important that these provisions
be revoked and rights to free and full political participation be assured
to those who wish to be involved in the futhre democracy of Burma.
5.46 The Committee recommends that:
23. THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT URGE THE GOVERNMENT OF BURMA TO:
(A) RELEASE IMMEDIATELY ALL POLITICAL DETAINEES;
(B) COMPLY WITH THE REQUEST OF THE INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION FOR
INFORMATION ON THE NAMES AND NUMBERS OF ALL POLITICAL DETAINEES;
(C) ALLOW PRIVATE ACCESS TO DELEGATES OF THE IPU OR THE ICRC TO
THESE DETAINEES; AND
(D) REPEAL THOSE LAWS WHICH INCLUDE ILL-DEFINED OFFENCES AGAINST
NATIONAL SECURITY (SEE PARAGRAPH 5.44) WHICH HAVE BEEN USED OFR THE
PURPOSE OF ELIMINATING OPPOSITION.
Democracy in Burma
5.47 This Committee rejects the proposition that any of the actions for
which these people have been detained could be constructed as a threat to
national security. In reality it would appear that the laws are simply used
against people exercising their legitimate rights to free speech, free
association and peaceful political action - criticism of the actions of teh
SLORC, rightful protest about the failure of the SLORC to respect the
election victory of the NLD, criticism of the dubious procedures of the
National Convention and free dialogue and cooperation with the Special
Rapporteur as agreed to by the Government. Teh laws are vague and at times
amemdments have been made by decree and punishments ahve been applied
retrospectively. Procedures have not been open and the Government has not
produced the concrete evidence upon which the judgements have been made. No
distinction is made between the security of the State and the 'Security of
SLORC'. Consequently procedures have not been in accord with natural
justice and the 'prevailing laws' not in accord with the international
obligations of Burma, as a member of the United Nations, to observe Article
11, 19, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of HUman Rights.
5.48 This Committee deplores the deliberate and systematic destruction of
political parties under the guise of legal process. It deplores the
manipulation of the National Convention in order to produce an
anti-democratic constitution which, if not modified, will entrench in power
a military regime which has usurped power and denied the will of the people
of Burma clearly expressed at a free and fair election.
5.49 In Burma, there is a long history of authoritarian rule and isolation
from international contact and international scrutiny. Today, since the
SLORC deprive the elected government of power in 1990, the most gross human
rights abuses committed by the Government result from that act of
illegality, the opposition it has engendered and the systematic attempts of
the SLORC to destroy the National League for Democracy and any political
opposition to its rule. The Government lacks accountability. Its rule is
arbitrary; it has dispensed with a rule of law and has resorted to rule by
decree. There has been little progress towards democracy.
5.50 The Committee recommends that:
24. THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT URGE THE GOVERNMENT OF BURMA TO ENACT
LAWS WHICH WOULD ENSURE FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY AND INFORMATION SO THAT
ALL CITIZENS OF BURMA MAY PARTICIPATE FULLY IN THE POLITICAL
 Reported on AFP, 11 July 1995.
 Australia-Burma Council submission, pp. S404-15.
 ibid. p. 85. See also Appendix 8 for full list of parliamentarians who
have been detained and their current status as far as the IPU can
 The list as of July 1995 is as follows: Case Nos - MYN/01 Ohn Kyaing;
MYN/08 Tin Htut; MYN/10 Win Hlaing; MYN/13 Naing Naing; MYN/26 U Hla Tun;
MYN/28 Tin Aung Aung; MYN/36 Myint Naing; MYN/41 Zaw Myint; MYN/42 Mya Win;
MYN/50 Wan Maung; MYN/53 Hla Tan; MYN/60 Zaw Myint Maung; MYN/71 Kyi Myint;
MYN/72 SAw Win; MYN/73 Fazal Ahmed.
 Exhibit No 29, 'Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians',
 For '[causing the] the disintegration of the moral character of the
people' and for writing and distributing false news that could jeopardise
the security of the state'.
 For the publication of material which 'oppose the SLORC ... or ...
insults, slanders or attempts to divide the Defence Forces'
 For membership of an association which 'encourages or aids persons to
commit acts of violence or intimidation or which has been declared unlawful
by the President.'
 'The Government may order up to three years detention or house arrest
without charge or trial for anyone the authorities believe will do, or is
doing, an act which endangers the peace of most citizens or the security
and sovereignty of the State'. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and 40 other members of
parliament were detained under this law.
 SLORC Order 4/91 states that anyone convicted of 'moral turpitude' or
offences relationg to law and order 'ha[s] no right to continue to be a
Peoples' Assembly representative' and such people 'shall have no right to
stand for election as a Peoples' Assembly candidade in elections to be held
in the future.' Cited from Human Rights Watch/Asia, op.cit.p.10.
ENDS(5.32 - 5.50)\