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HUMAN RIGHTS SUB-COMMITTEE REPORT O
Subject: HUMAN RIGHTS SUB-COMMITTEE REPORT OCT 95 (6.1-610)
/* posted Wed 28 Feb 6:00am 1996 by DRUNOO@xxxxxxxxxxxx(DR U NE OO)
in igc:soc.culture.burma */
/* -----------" BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT, OCT 95 (6.1-6.10) "---------- */
Following materials are reproduction from the findings of Human Rights
Sub-Committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence
and Trade of the Parliament of Australia, published in October 1995.
Anyone wishing to inquire about the book may contact Ms Margaret
Swieringa, Secretary, Human Rights Sub-Committee, Parliament House,
Canberra A.C.T. 2600, AUSTRALIA.
Best regards, U Ne Oo.
CHAPTER SIX: (6.1 -6.10)
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 SIX: ENGAGEMENT OR ISOLATION (6.1-6.10)
6.1 The lack of domestic accountability and the apparent unwillingness of
the SLORC to set in place democratic processes ensure continuing
international attention on Burma. The international system is, and must be,
a last resort for people who can gain no redress internally. Since the
massacres of 1988, there has been growing concern at teh gross violations
of human rights in Burma, conducted for the most part by the military and
the Government. Far from preventing national disintegration and domestic
rebellion, the policies of the SLORC, through tyranny and oppression, have
encouraged it. Although minor adjustments have been made by the government
in response to massive international pressure, the core issue of the
recognition of the democratic will of the people and an end to human rights
abuses has not been addressed in any credible way.
6.2 Moreover, there has been almost no dissension from the condemnation of
the human rights abuses perpetrated by the current regime in Burma. However
the question of what might be the most appropriate response has generated
considerable debate. The question is whether the natural inclination to
proscribe an abusive and illegal regime would lead to an improvement more
quickly than engaging it and opening it to the influences of trade and
development; whether contact would give political legitimacy and economic
succour to the ruling elite at the expense of the ordinary people of Burma.
The dilemma is made more complicated by the differing attitudes and
interests of regional countries and neighbours - the ASEAN states, China
and Bangladesh - and the wider international community - the United States,
Japan, the European Union, Canada and Australia etc. Where there is no
consensus the question becomes as mucn one of pragmatic politics and what
is achievable as one of principle and international law.
The United Nations
6.3 The reaction of the United Nations has been expressed in a series of
resolutions passed in boht the General Assembly and the Commission on Human
Rights. Tehy have left no doube about teh UNs view of Burma. Since 1991
these resolutions have been increasingly specific and increasingly
critical. Moreover they have been passed by consensus, thereby giving the
force of unanimity to the condemnation of Burma's record. What began as a
general concern about human rights violations and the failure to implement
the results of the 1990 elections have become quite detailed demands for
action to stop the detention and torture of political opponents, to improve
conditions in prisons, to remove the conditions which cause the outflow of
refugees from Burma nd to comply with already ratified international
conventions and ratify those which have not yet been ratified.
6.4 In 1992 a series of Special Rapporteurs reported on Burma:
* Mr P Kooijmans, pursuant to CHR Resolution 1992/32 concerning
Persons Subjected to any Form of Detention or Imprisonment;
* Mr Barc Waly Ndaye, pursuant to CHR Resolution 1992/72 concerning
Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions;
* Mr Angelo Vidal d'Almeida Riberio, pursuant to CHR Resolution
1986/20 concerning Religious Intolerance and Discrimination.
6.5 These rapporteurs based their findings on written communications both
with complainants and the Government of Burma. They presented quite
specific allegations to the Government and they have received only very
general denials in reply.
6.6 In 1993 the Working Group on Arbitrary Detantion found that, since both
Aung San Suu Kyi and U Nu had never had access to counsel, could not
challenge their deprivation of liberty before a court and had been held in
almost complete isolation, their detantions were arbitrary and in
contraventions of Article 9,10,11,19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights and Article 9,14, 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights.
6.7 The United Nations took a furhter step in 1993, Resolution 1992/58,
appointing the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar, Mr Yozo
Yokota. Mr Yozo Yokota has visited Burma twoce, in December 1992 and
November 1994. The Government of Burma organised wide-ranging discussions
for him; however, on neither occasion was he able to see all the people he
wished to see. Mr Yokota's first report concluded that there was 'serious
repression and an atmosphere of pervasive fear in Myanar' as well as 'a
lack of accoutability and an absence of legal and administrative
protections'. He recommended continued close monitornig.
6.8 In the second report he noted 'visible signs of relaxation of tension
in the life of the people ... many consumer goods, ... many cars on the
streets.' However, the economic expnasion and development only benefited a
few and people did not generally enjoy civil and political rights - freedom
of thought, opinion, expression, publication, and peaceful assembly and
association. In a series of recommandations Mr Yokota called on the
Government of Burma to develop a democratic constitution, to agree to and
implement all the international human rights norms and to open the country
to free access to and cooperation with non-government organisations.
6.9 In its resolution on Burma, the United Nations has judged the record of
Burma against its conventions and declarations; it has not taken a stand on
the question of engagement or isolation. Unless matters are taken to the
Security Council and resolutions agreed under the Chapter VII enforcement
provisions, it is in the nature of the UN system to be persuasive rather
than punitive. When, in 1992 after 250,000 refugees had fled into
Bangladesh, matters were close to being raised in the Security Council, the
SLORC began to madify its policies. Since then the UN has sought the
cooperation of the regime in reminding the SLORC of its obligations.
6.10 The Committee recommended that:
25. THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT CONTINUE TO WORK THROUGH THE UNITED
NATIONS FOR CHANGE IN BURMA AND THAT AT ALL TIMES THE GOVERNMENT
GIVE FULL SUPPORT TO THE WORK OF THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON BURMA IN
HIS ENDEAVOURS TO PERSUADE THE GOVERNMENT OF BURMA TO COMPLY WITH
EXISTING UN RESOLUTIONS.
 For the full text of the last UNGA resolution, 49/197 23 December 1994,
see Appendix 7.