[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]


/* Written 6 Oct 6:00am 1997 by drunoo@xxxxxxxxxxxx in igc:reg.burma */
/* -----------------" 7/7/97 Letter to UN Assist Sec "----------------- */

Dr U Ne Oo
48/2 Ayliffes Road
St Marys SA 5042

July 7, 1997.

Mr Alvaro de Soto
Department of Political Affairs
United Nations, New York N.Y.10017

Dear Sir,

re: Current political situation in Burma

I am writing to the Assistant-Secretary-General to inform
current political situation in Burma. Following your visit of
7-10 May 1997, there has been unlawful arrest and detention of
elected members and supporters of National League for Democracy
party by the military government. By the end of May, the
Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has approved the
membership for Burma amidst protests by the international
non-governmental organizations. The domestic political
consequences for this development is still unknown. It however
can be expected to be of a minimal impact on the population of
Burma. On the positive side, the ASEAN has become an official
avenue for the international community to approach military
government in Burma. In late June, the American Heritage
Foundation has visited Burma and reported to have met with both
military authorities and members of National League for

We continue to receive reports of displaced Rohingyas entering
into Bangladesh. These displaced people reported the shortage of
food (rice), forced labour and excessive taxation in their area.
There has also been disturbing report of extrajudicial execution
of civilians in Shan State by the Burmese military.

I believe that more efforts and coordinations between United
Nations agencies and international community at this stage are
vital to advance the cause for democracy in Burma. I therefore
appeal the United Nations and international community to take
following measures in regard to the situation in Burma.

1. Contact group for Burma: The UN Secretary-General should make
initiative to organize a group of eminent persons to support
Aung San Suu Kyi and democracy movement in Burma. Previously,
there have been initiatives in this regard by Canadian Prime
Minister Jean Chretien and U.S. Ambassador Bill Richardson. Such
UN Contact group will certainly help the Burmese people in
bringing democratic changes to Burma.

2. Ad hoc committee for refugees from Burma: Current political
situation and refugee problem suggest that the immediate
attention from the United Nations is necessary in order to the
situation in Burma not developing into a hardening deadlock,
which in the long-term will threaten regional stability. The
Karen and other refugees from Burma, on the one hand, have been
in Thailand since 1984 with no solution in sight. Therefore, the
HIgh Commissioner for Refugees is urged to set up an Ad hoc
regional committee, in accordance with the notes of 47th
Executive Committee of the High Commissioners Program
(A/AC.96/863 para.31, 1-July-1996), to tackle Burma's refugees
and displaced people problem. The ASEAN regional forum, which
include the ASEAN member countries, can be considered as a good
basis for such a regional committee.

I believe that such initiative by the High Commissioner for
Refugee will help encourage Burma's neighbouring states to
assume their responsibilities in regard to protection,
prevention and solution to Burma's refugee problem. This will
also put pressure on the military government to enter peaceful
negotiation with the opposition and ethnic minorities.

3. Promoting legal framework for organized repatriation: The
number of displaced Burmese in Thailand is estimated to be
600,000, in addition to approximately 90,000 refugees at the
border camps. There have been constant reports throughout the
year of the Thai authorities forcibly repatriating the
displaced, people, especially those from Shan and Mon ethnic
minority groups, back to Burma.

In order to tackle this involuntary displacement problem, the
UNHCR, Royal Thai Government and Burmese authorities should
promote a memorandum of understanding for the safe and voluntary
return of the refugees and displaced people. As a first step,
the Royal Thai Government must be persuaded to grant the refugee
status, on a group basis, to the Karen and other refugees living
in the camps and RTG should allow the UNHCR to have unhindered
access to these border areas. With the help of ASEAN and ASEAN
REgional Forum, the United Nations should promote a legal
framework and draw-up a Program of Action to solve the problem
of displaced people.

The underlying reasons of involuntary displacement of Burmese in
Thailand, at the core, are the same as those of refugees. The
amelioration of the displacement situation can be expected only
be solving refugee problem as a start. All Burma's neighbouring
states must be made aware of this fact. IN addition, the UNited
Nations must assure the RTG that there will be no repeat of
disastrous resettlement-traps for Burmese refugees in Thailand.

4. Improvement to the General Assembly resolution: To my
observations, the UN General Assembly resolutions on Burma since
1994 have not been progressively moving along with the situation
in Burma. The successive UNGA resolutions, certainly, have shown
grave concerns about military government's human rights abuses
in Burma. However, these resolutions are non-binding and, in my
view, did not include recommendations that enable the
international community to take appropriate actions.

In dealing with SLORC, it is inadequate for UNGA to simply
express 'grave concerns' about military's human rights abuses.
The UNGA must construct its resolutions in certain ways so that
the UN Agencies and international community can take follow-up
actions. The resolution may recommend, for example, the UN
Agencies to send human rights monitors to Burma, the Military
government to allow a free and unhindered access for UNHCR and
NGOs in Burma. Specific measures to highlight the illegitimate
nature of SLORC rulings should also be introduced in the

5. Funding of the repatriation program: There has been the
possibility of SLORC receiving a large amount of revenue ($400
million) from the oil companies after 1998. The UN is urged to
make initiatives to channel the funds to possible refugee
programs in Burma. There has been a precedent, for example in
Iraq, to channel the sales of natural resources to the use of
disadvantaged population. The Royal Thai Government as well as
the business community should be informed of such possibility in

In closing, I should like to express my sincere thanks to you
and the UNited Nations for your kind efforts made for the people
of Burma.

YOurs respectfully and sincerely,
Sd. U Ne Oo.

/* Endreport */