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A LETTER TO UNDHA IN DEC-1993.
<I>Date of Distribution: October 18, 1995.
Forum: reg.burma@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, WWW</I><HR>
<H1>December, 1993: Letter to UN Dept. of Humanitarian Affairs</H1>
Dr. U Ne Oo
48/2 Ayliffes Road
St Marys, Adelaide
AUSTRALIA SA 5042
December 31, 1993
Mr Jan Eliasson
The Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations
for Humanitarian Affairs
Palais Des Nations
1211 Geneva 10
RE: Humanitarian Assistance for the Burma-Rohingyas
I am a Burmese national who presently residing in Australia. Until 1992, I
was working as a demonstrator at the Department of Physics, Rangoon Arts
and Science University. I completed Ph.D. in Physics at the University of
Adelaide in 1993. Like many other expatriate Burmese, I have been involved
in the movement for democracy in Burma through Burma Action(South
Australia) and Australia Burma Council. These views expressed in this
letter, however, are of my own and may not necessarily reflect those
First and foremost, I would like to thank you for your intensive efforts
that has been made to reach the agreement between Myanmar authorities and
the Government of Bangladesh for the repatriation of Rohingyas. From the
Asia Watch report of October 9-1993, it is apparent that the Government of
Bangladesh as well as Rohingyas wish the repatriation program to be
completed as soon as possible. It is therefore appropriate for the United
Nations to assist a speedy repatriation for Burma-Rohingyas.
I presumed that the reception centre at the Myanmar side of border will not
have enough capacity to carry out such speedy repatriation. Furthermore,
the Rohingyas will have serious difficulties to resettle back into the
local community with their properties and villages destroyed. I therefore
support respective UN agencies, the UNHCR, UNDP and UNICEF, to form a
task-force in assisting the repatriation program. On this occasion, the
United Nations should encourage the authorities in Myanmar to form a
Reception Committee consisting of various governmental agencies - The ARmed
forces, Department of Immigration, Department of Health, etc.. and the
members of the local community - The Elected members of Parliaments, the
religious leaders, villages head men, etc. The UN task-force should shows
its preference in contacting with such a Reception Committee, rather than
local Law and Order Restoration Council(LORC) to carry out repatriations.
I also wish to draw the UN agencies' attention in regards to the ways of
assisting the Rohingyas. The status of Rohingyas have been a controversial
issue since the time they migrated to Northern Arakan in 1924. There were
incidences of various communal tension occurred between local Arakan people
and Rohingyas throughout our history. Therefore, the necessary precautions
should be taken in which the way Rohingyas being reintegrated into the
local community. Therefore, please ensure that the UN task-force gives
attention to both local community as well as refugees and, the assistance
on humanitarian needs also benefits the local communities.
There were concerns among NGOs and Human Rights Organizations with regards
to the issue on the presence and operations of the UN agencies (i.e. UNDP
and UNICEF) in Burma. Their main concern is that the SLORC will promote its
legitimacy through the involvement of UN agencies. Furthermore, SLORC will
also use such UN agencies involvements as a propaganda to the people of
Burma that SLORC is accepted as a legitimate Government by the United
Nations. There is also concerns of the UNited Nations' fund for development
may be channelled to the use of armed forces. While the need for the UN
agencies presence in Burma is important, I would support the UN to set up a
guideline and also code of practice for the UN Agencies that would
consistent with the recommendations of the Commission on Human Rights.
The guideline should meet the UN agencies requirements to improve the
humanitarian situation of the people of Myanmar as well as the necessity to
promote HUman Rights. The illegitimacy of SLORC would be highlighted,
though indirectly, by taking measures such as (1) formation of above
Reception Committee and;(2) the UNited Nations' Agencies conducting only
with such a committee.
The guidelines should also set in order to encourage the reconciliation
between the Burma's Armed Forces and the civilian population. There are
signs of the Burmese military been willing to reconcile with civilian
population and also to participate in the reconstruction of Burma. The
United Nations should encourage such aspect of the military and civilians
working together under the auspices of United Nations for the improvements
of humanitarian situation in Myanmar.
At present, the UNHCR would be able to monitor the Rohingya refugees who
are inhabitants of Northern Arakan State. Depending on the success and
acceptance by Myanmar authorities on the concept of Reception Committee,
the United Nations should extends its humanitarian operations to all Arakan
State. The low cost development projects - such as promoting new
agricultural land - for small land owners may also be carried out.
The United Nations should also find ways to increase its influence on
Burma's democratization process. Presently, SLORC shows no signs of
transferring power to the elected civilian government. However, there are
possibilities that an Interim Committee, with members from both elected
parliamentarians and military personnel, that may be formed to function.
The process of framing the Constitution, which may include the rights of
ethnic nationalities, could be undertaken from both United Nations and
Interim Committee. Therefore, the United Nations can assist to built-up
democratic institutions in Burma.
Finally, I wish to support to make a co-ordinated plan of action for
Myanmar from all UN agencies, including UNHCR and The Commission on HUman
Rights. As a citizen of Burma, I will give my personal assistance to the
United Nations, in any possible way, for a peaceful transition of state
power and building a democratic Burma.
Many thanks for your kindness in helping Burmese people, especially,
Your faithfully and sincerely,
Sd. U Ne Oo.
(1) Ms Sadako Ogata, UNHCR, CASE POSTALE 2500, CH-1211 GENEVA-2 DEPOT,
<B>LETTER FROM MR JAN ELIASSON, UN-DHA (26/1/94)</B>
UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. 10017
26 January 1994
Dear Dr. U Ne Oo,
Thank you for your letter of 31 December 1993 and for your kind words about
the United Nations' efforts on behalf of the Rohingya people. The concerns
you expressed have been carefully noted and many are shared by the members
of the UN system that are dealing with this problem directly. I was
particularly pleased that you share my view that it is the humanitarian
concerns of the people themselves which must be the focus of our attention.
As you know, I was engaged for many months in a process of dialogue toward
improvement of the conditions which forced the refugees to flee to
Bangladesh, and to ensure that their repatriation would only be undertaken
on a voluntary basis in conditions of safety and dignity. As you may know,
as a result of these and other efforts, on 5 NOvember, the UNHCR and
Myanmar signed a memorandum of understanding which provides for a UNHCR
presence in Arakan State during the repatriation operation. I hope that
this could be the first step in a process of ongoing cooperation between
the United Nations and the people of Myanmar.
Sd. Jan Eliasson
Under - Secretary - General
for Humanitarian Affairs
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