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15/11/96-WEB-PICKINGS: UN Press Rel

Subject: 15/11/96-WEB-PICKINGS: UN Press Release on 15 November.

Full Texts of the following press release from United Nations 
can be found on this URL - The Home page for United Nations.


With best regards, U Ne Oo.
<html><head><title>[15 Nov 1996] 
Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance, UNESCO also Present Reports 
The reports of the Special Rapporteurs on the human rights situation in  
Afghanistan, Myanmar, the former Yugoslavia, Sudan, Cuba, and Burundi were 
presented to the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) this 
morning, as it continued its discussion of human rights questions. <P>    

The Special Rapporteur for Afghanistan, Hoon-Hyun Paik, cited reports of 
extra-judicial executions by members of the Taliban movement, as in the case
of the assassination of former President Najibullah.  There was also           
widespread, persistent fear about the infliction of cruel and inhuman 
punishment, including stoning and amputations.  A coherent system of justice
should be established, in accordance with international human rights and norms
and the rule of international law. <P>              

Events of the last weeks in the Great Lakes region of Africa had           
confirmed the seriousness of preventing another human catastrophe, according 
to the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Burundi, Paulo
Sergio Pinheiro.  He said economic sanctions against the country should not be
lifted until the authorities pursued efforts for a cease-fire between the
parties and human rights violations had been investigated.  The moral
conscience of all mankind was being challenged by the suffering of many people
in the region.   <P>              

Rajsoomer Lallah, the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar,           
said various laws in the country criminalized the exercise of basic human 
rights.  Where they did not, executive orders greatly restricted those rights.
Allegations of people arrested and detained for the peaceful exercise of their
basic human rights derived substance from the very existence and nature of the
restrictive laws.  The reports of various human right violations included 
summary and arbitrary executions, torture, arbitrary arrests and detention,
forced labour, violations of the freedom of opinion, association, movement and

The Special Rapporteur on religious intolerance and a representative           
from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
also presented reports. <P>              

The representatives of Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sudan, Burundi, and Cuba 
replied to the reports on their countries human rights situation, and 
responded to specific allegations of abuse contained in the reports.  Greece
and Egypt also spoke in response to the report of the Special Rapporteur on
religious intolerance. <P>              

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. this afternoon to continue joint
consideration of the human rights questions, follow-up to the Vienna           
Declaration and Programme of Action and the report of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights.  It was also expected to take action on several
Committee Work Programme <P>              

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this           
afternoon to continue its examination of human rights questions, including
alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights
and fundamental freedoms and human right situations and reports of special
rapporteurs.  It has before it two reports by the Director-General of the
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO);
reports of the Special Rapporteurs on the  human rights situation in           
Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sudan, Cuba, the former Yugoslavia, and Burundi; the
report of the Secretary-General's Representative on internally displaced 
persons; and reports of the Secretary-General on the human rights situation 
in  Myanmar and Cambodia. <P> 

A note by the Secretary-General (document A/51/395) contains as an annex 
 ..............among the wider public, in cooperation with the media. <P>
The report of Choong-Hyun Paik, the Special Rapporteur on the human           
rights situation in Afghanistan ..................................


The report of the Secretary-General on the human rights situation in           
Myanmar (document A/51/660) is submitted pursuant to General Assembly
resolution 50/194 of 22 December 1995.  Myanmar's Foreign Minster, U Ohn Gyaw,
met with the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Alvaro de 
Soto, in New York, and Francesc Vendrell, the Director of the Department's
East Asia and Pacific Division in Bangkok.  Despite the Secretary-General's
requests, to date, the Myanmar Government had not agreed to allow his 
representatives to visit the country.   <P>              

Discussions with the Foreign Minster centred on the composition,           
procedures and functioning of the National Convention; the withdrawal and 
subsequent expulsion from the Convention of the National League for Democracy
(NLD); the opening of dialogue between the State Law and Order Restoration
Council and the political leaders, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as
representatives of national races and ethnic groups; restrictions on political
freedoms, including the proclamation of Law No. 5/96 of 7 June 1996; the
situation of political prisoners and detainees; reports of forced labour; and 
reports of military actions against certain ethnic groups, including the 
Karens and Karennis, resulting in further internal displacements and refugee
outflows. <P>              

The Secretary-General said he regretted that his representatives had not
been permitted to meet with the highest government authorities as well as
leaders of other relevant political forces and no progress had been achieved
in the areas on which the Assembly and the Human Rights Commission had
repeatedly expressed concern.  He concluded that the opening of genuine
political dialogue among the State Law and Order Restoration Council, leaders 
of the political party which won a clear majority in the 1990 elections, and 
other political forces, including national races and ethnic groups, was 
essential to achieve the Government's stated objectives of democratization and
national reconciliation.   <P>              

In his report on the human rights situation in Sudan (document  .
The report of the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Cuba, Carl-
Johanm Groth, states that the Commission on Human Rights noted with 


The report of Rajsoomer Lallah, the Special Rapporteur on the situation
of human rights in Myanmar (document A/51/466), states that a culture of
impunity prevails in the military and public sectors.  The report concludes 
that the absence of rights pertaining to democratic governance is at the root
of all the major violations of human rights in Myanmar and that genuine and 
lasting improvements in human rights may not be attained without respect for
the rights pertaining to democratic governance.  The report describes a 
national climate of consistent disregard for due process and the rule of law, 
attributable to the government operating without constitutional legitimacy
where individual rights are overtaken by a martial policy of punishing and 
repressing political dissent or any risk of it. <P>              

According to the report, the Special Rapporteur wrote twice to the           
Government of Myanmar requesting to visit the country.  At the time of the 
report, he had not received a reply.  A letter to the Commission from the 
Permanent Representative of Myanmar, dated 4 July 1996, indicated that Myanmar
continued to view the Commission's decision to appoint a Special Rapporteur
for the situation in that country as "unwarranted interference in our internal
affairs".  On the basis of the Charter as well as the pledge given by Member 
States to take action to implement the Charter's principles, which uphold the
sanctity of human rights, the Commission had developed procedures regarding 
the monitoring of human rights without the express consent of the States
concerned.  Myanmar had pledged to cooperate with the United Nations and its
organs, under Article 56 of the Charter, and could not exempt the Assembly or
the Commission from performing their mandated functions and established 
procedures.  <P>              

The report notes that the electoral process initiated in May 1990, and
interrupted by the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) had still
not been concluded.  Under the SLORC governance, extrajudicial, summary or
arbitrary executions continue, and forced labour, porterage, and torture occur
particularly in the context of development programmes, and counter-insurgency
operations in minority-dominated regions.  Existing laws legalize arbitrary
arrest and detention, and criminalize many aspects of normal civilian conduct.
There is essentially no freedom of thought, expression or association because
of both visible and invisible pressures applied by SLORC.  The National League
for Democracy (NLD), which won more than 80 per cent of the seats in the 1990
general election, cannot assemble in a group, or publish or distribute printed
material.  The Government's policy violates freedom of movement and residence,
and in some cases, constitutes discriminatory practices based on ethnic 
considerations. <P>              

The Special Rapporteur recommends the Government of Myanmar fulfil
obligations assumed under the Articles of the Charter to protect and promote
human rights and fundamental freedoms.  He further recommends that Myanmar law
should be conformed with accepted international standards regarding human
rights.  The Government should function according to a separation of powers
which would render the executive accountable to the citizenry and subject to
the rule of law, and the judiciary independent.  Those elected in 1990 should
be involved in the transition to democracy, and all political parties should
freely exercise their activities.  Those detained under the imposition of
martial law should be tried by an independent civilian court in accordance
with the norms of due process as enshrined in international law.   <P>  

Other recommendations include the decriminalization of free expression 
and the removal of all restrictions on citizens' movement.  Discriminatory
policies which interfere with the free and equal enjoyment of property should
be ceased, and those who have been unjustly deprived of property appropriately
compensated.  The Government should prohibit the practice of forced labour and
forced portering.  Military and law enforcement personnel should be trained in
international human rights norms and humanitarian standards, which should be
incorporated into Myanmar law.  All officials committing human rights abuses 
and violations should be subject to disciplinary control and punishment. <P>
A note by the Secretary-General transmits the report of the           
representative on internally displaced persons (document A/51/483).  Over the
past year, the representative has been actively engaged in three main areas of
work:  development of an appropriate normative framework for meeting the needs
 of the internally displaced; promotion of effective institutional arrangements
for protecting and assisting the internally displaced; and visiting countries
with serious internal displacement problems to promote dialogue with           
governments, drawing lessons from previous experiences and seeking to improve
conditions on the ground. <P>              

The representative has been studying the specific form a normative           
framework might take and is in the process of developing a body of guiding
principles.  As the guiding principles will address all phases of           
displacement, including prevention, a separate study is being prepared on the
content and limitations of a right not to be displaced, which will provide the
 basis for the development of guiding principles pertaining to the pre-
displacement phase.  The representative's objective is that the framework
developed should provide an explicit, adequate and firm basis for the 
protection of and the provision of assistance to the internally displaced and 
that it be strongly supported by the international community. <P>              

In analyzing and evaluating existing institutional arrangements relevant
to the internally displaced, the representative found serious gaps.  There is 
no institution with an exclusive or full mandate for the internally displaced,
nor is there the political will to create a new institution or to mandate an 
existing one to assume full responsibility.  The collaborative approach 
remains the only feasible option, but it is often constrained by problems of
coordination, neglect of protection and insufficient reintegration and
development support.   <P>              

Regional organizations are becoming increasingly important, according to 
the representative.  These organizations are in a position to adapt policies 
to regional realities and allow for innovative approaches to be transmitted 
both to affected countries within their regions and to the international 
system as a whole.  Such organizations include the Organization for Security 
and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Organization of African Unity (OAU), and
the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American
States.  The representative recommends that regional bodies also consider
establishing institutional mechanisms for the internally displaced.  Another
important regional development was the organization of a Regional Conference 
to Address the Problems of Refugees, Displaced Persons, Other Forms of
Involuntary Displacement and Returnees in the Countries of the Commonwealth of
Independent States and Relevant Neighbouring States. <P>              

Another report of the Secretary General (document A/51/453) contains
recommendations by his Special Representative for human rights in Cambodia.
 CHOON-HYUN PAIK, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on     
the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, said ...................

RAJSOOMER LALLAH, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in 
Myanmar, said following his appointment in June 1996 he had twice sought the
cooperation of the Myanmar Government and sought direct access to government
authorities, but had had no response.  Although he had not seen the situation
on the ground, he had been assisted by information from governmental, inter- 
governmental and non-governmental organizations and from individuals who were
connected in one way or another with the country.  One basic fact was 
striking.  In Myanmar, various laws, by themselves, criminalized the exercise 
of basic human rights.  Where they did not, executive orders greatly           
restricted those rights.  Allegations of people arrested and detained for the
peaceful exercise of their basic human rights derived substance from the very 
existence and nature of the laws. <P>              

He said a wide variety of human rights violations had occurred and           
continued to occur in Myanmar, including summary and arbitrary executions,
torture, arbitrary arrests and detention, forced labour, violations of the
freedom of opinion, association, movement and residence.  All those violations
of human rights were addressed in more detail in his report.  He stressed that
the repressive political climate in Myanmar since 1990 had made it virtually
impossible for opposition parties to function and they had been severely
hampered through constant harassment and arrests.  There was absolutely no 
freedom of thought, opinion, expression or association.  The absolute power of
the SLORC was exercised to silence opposition and penalize those with
dissenting opinion.  Since November 1995, when the NLD leaders withdrew from 
the National Convention, the party had been increasing harassed.  In September
1996, 150 NLD party members had been arrested to prevent them attending the
eighth anniversary of their party. <P>              

He said he had received several well-documented reports describing the 
wide use of forced labour throughout the whole country.  In 1996, civilians, 
including vulnerable groups, were widely reported to have been forced to 
contribute non-compensated labour to certain large development projects.
Despite repeated condemnation by the General Assembly, the International
Labour Organization (ILO) and non-governmental organizations, the Government 
had not repealed the Myanmar Village Act of 1908 and the Towns Act of 1907 
which legitimise the practice.   <P>              

A.G. RAVAN FARHADI (Afghanistan) said the Islamic State of Afghanistan
appreciated the efforts of the Special Rapporteur in compiling his report,

U PE THEIN TIN (Myanmar) said it was regrettable that the Special           
Rapporteur had produced a report that was flawed in its basic premise that the
Government of Myanmar was not willing to cooperate with the United Nations, 
and in its conclusion that systematic violations of human rights were
widespread and were condoned by the Government.  His Government rejected the 
report and was deeply perturbed by the implications of the report. <P>
No one should cast doubt on Myanmar's willingness to cooperate with the
United Nations, he said.  Myanmar's support of the Charter and its cooperation
with the Organization constituted one of the basic tenets of the country's 
foreign policy.  It had constantly sought to cooperate fully with the
Organization, whether it was to fight the scourge of narcotic drugs, ensure 
the welfare of children or women, or respond to the international concern 
regarding allegations of human rights abuse.  The Government had gone out of
its way to assuage the concerns of the Commission on Human Rights.  Even 
before the appointment of Yozo Yokota as Special Rapporteur in 1992, it had
welcomed the visit of Sadako Ogata as an independent expert in 1990, though
the Government did not accept the mandate.  While Myanmar had always           
disassociated itself from the decisions of the General Assembly and the 
Commission on Human Rights regarding the situation in Myanmar, the Government,
in deference to the views of the international community, permitted the
Special Rapporteur to visit Myanmar. <P>              

What should be borne in mind was that Myanmar was home to 135 national
races, he said.  A balance must be struck to reach consensus among the nearly
700 delegates in the national convention to achieve an instrument that 
reflected the aspirations of all the nationalities that made up its Union.
The Government's priority was national reconsolidation and the eradication of
insurgencies.  It was imperative for the Tatmadaaw to continue to stay at the 
helm of State until a new constitution was adopted. <P>              

The Government of Myanmar had responded to specific allegations received
through the Centre for Human Rights and had provided the information sought by
the Commission on Human Rights, he said.  As any objective visitor to Myanmar
could attest, positive transformations were taking place and the situation on
the ground gave the lies to the catalogue of allegations contained in the 
interim report.  It had never been the policy of the Government to           
systematically repress its own people and to condone human rights abuses.
Allegations contained in the report invariably originated from dissident
groups and sources in and outside the country. <P>              

ELIZABETH RHEN, Special Rapporteur of the situation in the former           
Yugoslavia, said many positive changes had taken place...........
GASPAR BIRO, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the
human rights situation in Sudan, said ............................
YAHYA ABDEL GALIL MOHMOUD (Sudan) thanked the Special Rapporteur for
taking the trouble to visit Sudan and for completing his report in such a
short time-frame.  The Government welcomed several conclusions of the Special
Rapporteur. .................................................................
PAULO SERGIO PINHEIRO, the Special Rapporteur on the situation in           
Burundi, said events of the last weeks had confirmed the seriousness 
of his ...........................................................
JEAN-BAPTISTE HAJAYANDI (Burundi), said in reply, that his Government
had very good relations with the Human Rights Centre and there was an office
in Bujumbura.  It had officially asked that the numbers of human rights
observers be increased because it had nothing to hide.  ................
KARIM WISSA (Egypt) said in relation to the urgent appeal concerning 
AHA ABDEL GALIL MOHMOUD (Sudan) said since the report had not yet been
circulated he wished to reserve the right to respond ..................
CARL-JOHAN GROTH, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights 
on the situation of human rights in Cuba, said his mandate differed from 

FRANCIS M. DENG, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on           
internally displaced person, said the plight of refugees and internally
displaced persons was a tragic manifestation of the political turmoil which
plagued the entire Great Lakes region.  While his mandate lacked operational
 capacity to make a difference in the crisis, he added his voice to the call
for immediate international humanitarian response, in conjunction with efforts
to seek long-term political solutions. <P>              

One particular development which needed to be highlighted was the           
increasing importance of regional organizations for the protection and
assistance of internally displaced persons, he said.  The OAU, through its 
conflict prevention mechanism, aimed at defusing tensions before crises 
occurred.  The Secretary-General of the OAU had repeatedly called attention to
the need to address the mounting crises of internal displacement on the 
continent.  It was his expectation that the OAU would play a vital role,
together with the international community, in promoting humanitarian and
political solutions to the current crisis in the Great Lakes region of Africa.
The OSCE over the past few years had become involved in efforts to directly
protect internally displaced persons in Tajikistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 
and the Caucasus.   <P><P><P>              

Since it was governments that must bear the primary responsibility for 
the plight of internally displaced persons, country visits and dialogues with
governments were extremely important, he said.  It was particularly           
significant that country missions focus attention on specific crisis           
situations in the affected countries and make recommendations on what could be
done by the governments concerned in cooperation with the international
community, including governmental and non-governmental organizations, to
alleviate the situation.   <P>              

Country visits also provided an important opportunity for a constructive
exchange of views with the governments and other pertinent actors and helped
raise the level of awareness within the country to the problem of internal 
displacement, he said.  The Special Rapporteur was pleased to report that at
the end of the current month, he would be visiting Mozambique to look at the
return and reintegration process.  Country visits, however, were bound to have
a limited impact unless there was appropriate follow-up. Constant monitoring
was needed to ensure that situations were, in fact, improved and that 
recommendations arising from discussions with governments and international
organizations were carried out. <P><P>                                      
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