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/* Written Sun 26 Oct 12:00am 1997 by drunoo@xxxxxxxxxxxx in igc:reg.burma */
/* --------------" BURMA - On the Road to Peace "-------------- */


B U R M A - On The Road To Peace
 14 October 1997
 By Dr U Ne Oo
 Adelaide, Australia

I. Introduction

One analyst has pointed out the central political issue in Burma
in 1996/97 to be the contest of legitimacy between SLORC, State
Law and Order Restoration Council - the ruling military council,
and the main opposition party NLD, National League for Democracy -
the winner of general election seven years ago [1]. SLORC seized
state power in September-1988 after violently suppressing
Burmese people's democracy movement in that year; and SLORC
asserted its right to hold on to state power by its own
Declaration No. 1/1990 after the general election of May-1990.
After seven years of SLORC in power, the international community
is beginning to question the legitimacy as well as legality of
the military's hold on state power and SLORC's continued
arbitrary rulings in Burma [2].

In regards to the situation of refugees and displaced people
from Burma, there has been no progress made over the year. The
United Nations organized repatriation program for Rohingyas, the
Burma-Muslim refugees in Bangladesh, has encountered particularly
difficult residual cases that directly linked to the issue of
statelessness in Burma [3]. The repatriation program is also
facing with obstacles from another dimension as the new wave of
displaced Rohingyas fleeing Bangladesh, citing economic
hardships and forced labour in Arakan state in western Burma[4].

On eastern part of Burma's border, the military government early
this year has staged an offensive against Karen National Union
(KNU), one of the largest remaining ethnic rebel groups that
have not signed ceasefire with Burmese army. This offensive had
resulted 20,000 more Karen refugees fleeing into Thailand;
adding total refugee population in the camps  to became 115,000.

During this year, the refugees in Thailand received unusually
harsh treatment by the Thai authorities. Thailand's relatively
tolerant policy for Burma's refugees in previous years appears
to have shifted towards the policy of {\em refoulement}.
Earlier this year, the Thai authorities, especially  Royal Thai
Army, forcibly repatriate a large number of refugees into war
zones. The Royal Thai Government, on the one hand, denied
Burma's refugees of United Nations protection, leaving refugees
in Thailand vulnerable to abuses. Such non-cooperation with
United Nations by Royal Thai Government, more importantly, is
depriving the opportunity for refugees to seek longer-term
solutions. Independent observers suggest that such hardening of
attitude to Burma's refugees in Thailand is the result of
increasing trade link between the two governments. There were
reports throughout the year of Thai authorities repatriating the
`illegal immigrants' from Burma's Mon and Shan ethnic minority
groups. Thailand currently housed an estimated 600,000 illegal
Burmese workers [5, 6].

There have also been reports of SLORC stepping up repression on
opposition members and supporters with the aim of decimating
representative-elects of National League for Democracy party.
Throughout the year, many independent sources reported of
harassment and intimidation made upon the opposition by military
authorities [7]. The SLORC's renewed repression is causing many
elected representatives of May-1990 to resign from their duties.
The heightened awareness is needed regarding this particularly
alarming trend of SLORC repression to decimate opposition [8,*].

On a positive note, the Year-1997 brings the democratic forces
to a new level of political cooperations in their struggle. The
ethnic nationalities, who struggling for political equality with
Burman majority, are politically united with the democratic
opposition, especially National League for Democracy. Parties in
opposition agree to solve national political problems, in
particular transition to democracy and establishment of genuine
federal union, at a tripartite dialogue with Burma military

In July of this year, the Association of South East Asian
Nations (ASEAN) admitted Burma to become a member. There have
been intense debates  and also protests throughout this year
about the inclusion of Burma into ASEAN. There are some
indications that the ASEAN's  policy of `{\em constructive
engagement}' is beginning to move away from the so-called `{\em
commercial diplomacy}' towards Burma [9]. A broader level of
ASEAN engagements to Burma, including diplomatic and
humanitarian concerns, appears to have taken shape in the latter
part of this year [10].

Whilst the international community and regional countries in
particular are giving more attention to the political situation
inside Burma, there appears to be severe deterioration of
economic and humanitarian condition in Burma. Burma's economy is
reported to be in a state of serious decline [11]. The sharp
rise in food prices as a result of poor rice harvest and
inflation have also been reported [12]. Observers state that
current economic crisis is comparable to that of 1987/88, which
led to widespread unrest in Burma.

Burma's situation clearly need urgent attention from the
international community and regional countries. Following in
this paper, the United Nations General Assembly and
Secretary-General of United Nations are called upon to assist
the people of Burma in bringing peace and national reconciliation.

II. Political Developments in 1997

2.1 National Convention and Dialogue
Burma since independence from Britain in 1948 had two
constitutions. The 1947 Constitution of Burma guaranteed some
ethnic minority states the right of secession after initial
period. Following General Ne Win's military coup of 1962, the
1947 Constitution was abolished and another constitution
enacted in 1974. The SLORC came into power in 1988 by abolishing
the 1974 Constitution.

In 1992, SLORC made initiatives to draw up a new constitution
amidst the request to transfer state power to elected
representative by United Nations General Assembly and Commission
on Human Rights. SLORC's primary motives of convening National
Convention appear to be to derive its legitimacy to stay in
power and to enshrine the role of military in future
constitution [13]. To achieve its principal aim of securing the
role for military in future governments, SLORC hand-picked the
majority of convention delegates from the so-called workers,
peasants and intelligentsia; and SLORC appointed the National
Convention Convening Committee to laid down guidelines for
drafting of the constitution. SLORC legitimize its convention by
including a number of representatives-elect, together with few
delegates from various ethnic minority groups who signed
cease-fire accord with Burmese army [14].

The constitutional guidelines laid down by SLORC  include, among
other measures, the army to have a leading role in national
politics. Since the military to have a permanent role in Burma's
government, in fact, is not agreeable to genuine people's
representatives, it became primary source of dispute between
convention organizers and elected representatives. As a result,
there have been numerous stoppages at the National Convention
since its beginning in 1993. In November 1995, the National
League for Democracy withdrew its participation from the
convention to protest  the undemocratic work-procedures laid
down by National Convention Convening Committee. Since then, the
process for writing the constitution under SLORC appear to have
lost its momentum: there were no reports made by SLORC's media
of any significant meeting on National Convention taking place
during 1997.

2.2 Ceasefire with Karen National Union

Throughout the year 1996, the SLORC and KNU held several round
of meetings for ceasefire without any success. Among the terms
of the ceasefire agreement being discussed, the major dispute
appears to be on the conditions  put forward by Karen National
Union that (1) SLORC to declare a nation-wide ceasefire and (2)
SLORC to make a comprehensive political settlement with
oppositions and ethnic groups [15].

The negotiation process for SLORC and KNU appeared to have
broken down totally following the Ethnic Nationalities Seminar
of January 1997 held in {\em Mae-Tha-Raw-Hta} -- a village in
KNU controlled territory. Attended by 111 delegates from 16
different ethnic organizations, the Seminar called for the
establishment of genuine federal union for Burma based on
equality and self-determination for ethnic minorities.
The Seminar agreement, known as {\em Mae-Tha-Raw-Hta agreement},
also pledged support for Burma democracy movement under Aung San
Suu Kyi's leadership and demanded the dissolution of
SLORC-controlled National Convention. It also demanded a
tripartite dialogue to solve the nation's political problems.

The ethnic minority groups that have signed {\em Mae-Tha-Raw-Hta
agreement}  included  those who concurrently participated
the SLORC-sponsored National Convention. This {\em
Mae-Tha-Raw-Hta agreement} appears to remove the last remaining
source of legitimacy for the SLORC-sponsored National Convention
- i.e. the participation of ethnic minority groups - and, thus,
causing political embarrassment to SLORC. The obvious sign of
growing unity on the federal movement by ethnic minority groups,
combined with the support for civilian opposition National
League for Democracy, may also  have alerted SLORC to suppress
the last remaining bases of Karen National Union. In the months
following  {\em Mae-Tha-Raw-Hta} Seminar, SLORC launched a series
of attacks on KNU posts, resulting in  20,000 refugees  fleeing to

The February/March attack on Karen National Union is a conclusive
evidence that SLORC has no intention of solving ethnic nationality
problems by political means. It has become clear from earlier
our suspicions that the reason SLORC entered into the various
ceasefire agreement with the rebel groups has been to concentrate
its energy on confronting civilian democratic oppositions and
not necessarily of SLORC seeking any long-term settlement with
ethnic insurgents of Burma [16].

2.3  Fundamental Political Problems

Current political issues in Burma can be resolved into two main
problems:(1) the dispute on the control of state power by
military authorities and representatives-elect of May-1990
election and (2) the struggle by ethnic minorities for political
equality with majority Burman. At this juncture, there still
remain a number of technical obstacles, this author believes
that the major political disputes at the policy level have been
resolved. Therefore, the political solution to this crisis can
be implemented by making the necessary compromises from
all sides.

Within the context of election held in May-1990, there is
no question of the elected representatives' right to form a
government in Burma. However, a compromise may be made, on the
part of elected representatives,  to include representatives
from the military in forming a government. SLORC has suggested a
composition of 25 percent of representatives from the military
to be included in Burma's parliament [17].

The ethnic nationality groups have the desire to work with
federal system for Burma, a system in which the political
equality of Burman majority and ethnic minority can be achieved.
The National League for Democracy, particularly Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi, in principle have supported the possibility of a future
federal Burma. A National Convention in which all political
entities in Burma can freely discuss and debate - i.e. the
tripartite dialogue between SLORC, NLD and ethnic minorities -
is vital in seeking a political solution for the ethnic
minorities of Burma.

III. Refugees from Burma

3.1 Burmese-Rohingyas at Bangladesh border

During June/August-1997, there were reports  of new influx of
Rohingya refugees entering Bangladesh. The number of
newly-arrived Rohingyas appeared to be larger than that of last
year. The displaced Rohingya cited (as of those in the exodus
last year [18, 19]) the  increased cost of rice, excessive
taxation, forced labour and restriction on the freedom of
movement as the reasons for their flight. Report on this new
influx has surfaced amid the reports of forcible repatriation of
399 Burmese-Rohingya refugees by the Bangladeshi authorities

This new wave of displaced Rohingya seems to constitute a dilemma
for UNHCR. Firstly, the UNHCR is still in the process of managing
residual cases from original exodus of 1991-92. A significant
proportion of the new arrivals were found to be originally
repatriated refugees [21]. The root causes of displacement
appears to be a mixture of economic hardship as well as
Convention related persecutions in Arakan state.

Currently, there are 21,800 Rohingyas from the original exodus
of 1991-92 at two existing camps in Bangladesh. Burmese
authorities have given clearance for 7,500 for repatriation,
meaning the rest of camp population, numbering 14,000 in total,
are not being considered as Burmese nationals. Burmese and
Bangladesh Governments reportedly set 15 August 1997 as deadline
for all repatriation. The UNHCR, without success, has made
request to the Government of Bangladesh for local resettlement
for these residual cases.

These residual cases appears to include a few hundred of members
of the armed opposition group fighting Burmese government along
with some Bangladeshi nationals who illegally entered Burma
before 1991. These residual cases also seem to include a number
of stateless Rohingyas. As the Bangladeshi authorities began to
repatriate what appears to be the last batch of remaining
Rohingyas, to whom apparently were given clearance by Burmese
side, the incidences of violent resistance by camp residents
were being reported. Following weeks of the repatriation, the
militant leaders in the camps forced the refugees not to accept
food and medicine as a protest to these forced repatriations

Such response by militant leaders and camp residents appear to
be the result of various factors. Firstly, if the existing camps
in Bangladesh were to be closed down, the refugees who do not have
clearance would feel threatened to be left in Bangladesh
indefinitely. Secondly, the marginal improvement in the human
rights situation in Arakan state, though suitable for the
majority to return, may not necessarily be conducive for some
refugees who  have been involved in anti-SLORC activities. It is
clear that considerate measures need to be made in approaching
these residual cases.

In regards to newly displaced Rohingyas, as Amnesty
International has noted in its latest report [23], there are
difficulties in making the distinction between economic migrants
and refugees. Even though the UNHCR is operational in Arakan, it
is unrealistic, for the time being, to expect there should be no
new exodus of Rohingyas: there will continue to be economic
displacements from Arakan state for some times. The UNHCR,
nonetheless, must be concerned with the existence of Convention
related persecutions (i.e forced labour, forced relocation and
restriction on the freedom of movement) in Arakan State. The
best remedial measure may be to expand the protection mandate of
UNHCR in Arakan state and also in Burma. The UNHCR should
coordinate with the Commission on Human Rights in the monitoring
of returnees in Burma.

3.2 Burma's ethnic minority refugees in Thailand

Following the offensive in February/March-1997 on Karen National
Union, an estimated 20,000 Karen refugees, who previously lived
in KNU controlled areas, have fled into Thailand. The Thai
government's treatment of these refugees have been particularly
harsh: instances of forcible expulsion from, and refusing entry
to, Thai territory of Burma's refugees have been reported
[24, 25].

Observers also note that differing treatments were given to
Burma's ethnic minority refugees by different sectors of the
Thai Government [26]. Informed sources also indicate that the
economic self-interests by Thai authorities (possibly on
individual basis) are likely motives for such a harsh treatment
made to  Burma's refugees. There are also indications of a shift
in the Royal Thai Government's policy of informally tolerating
Burma's refugees to that of forcibly repatriating refugees.

Burma's ethnic minority refugees (especially Karens) have been
taking refuge in Thailand since 1984. In those earlier years, at
a time Burma was under General Ne Win's government, the ethnic
rebels received tacit support from Thai authorities and were given
access to Thailand. At that time, the refugee movements at the
Thai-Burmese border were also of seasonal in character: refugees
usually enter Thai territory during the Burmese government's dry
season offensive, and then, returning  to their villages in the
wet season when the offensive is over. The refugees are mainly
close relatives or family members of those ethnic freedom

After SLORC seized power in 1988, the pattern of this refugee
movement as well as the composition of refugees has dramatically
changed. As a result of KNU losing their territory, the refugees
have to live within Thai territory all year round. The refugees
in the camps include ethnic minority villagers - not necessarily
of only  family members of the KNU - who fled from the Burmese
army's human rights abuses.

Along with these changes in refugees and their movements, there
appears to be some policy shift in Thailand for Burma's refugees.
The policy for Burma's refugees in Thailand is changing from an
informal tolerance to the forcible repatriation. In this regard,
the cooperation between the Burmese government and Thai
authorities, also in particular of trade and other economic
activities, were reported since 1989 [27]. In 1993, Thai and
Burmese authorities set up the Thai-Burmese Regional Border
Committee  to deal with various refugee issues [28]. Through
this Regional Border Committee, the SLORC is able to pressure
the ethnic insurgent groups in Thailand to sign cease-fire
agreements with the Burmese military. The 16 May 1997 report by
the  United States Committee for Refugees noted  a specific
pattern in the Thai authorities' response to current border
situation, in parallel to that of Mon ethnic rebels and
refugees [29]:

        "Specific actions by Thai authorities in recent years
        (and particularly in recent months) indicate that
        Thailand is yielding to SLORC pressure on the refugee
        question. These action include:

        + forcing residents of various refugee camps to relocate
        their camps to sites within Burma;

        + pressing for the inclusion of a clause in the
        cease-fire agreement between SLORC and Mon insurgents
        calling for the repatriation of Mon refugees, and
        forcing the Mon refugees to repatriate following the

        + preventing thousands of new Burmese asylum seekers
        from entering Thailand and forcibly returning some who
        managed to cross the border; ....}

The New Mon State Party, under pressure from Thai authorities,
had signed a ceasefire with SLORC in 1995, followed by pushing
all Mon refugees back into the Burma side of the border.
Currently, the Karen National Union is the largest of the
remaining ethnic rebel groups that have not signed a ceasefire
agreement with SLORC. In recent developments, the Thai
authorities appear to be pressing the KNU to sign a cease-fire
agreement with the Burmese army. On the one hand, the Thai
authorities are equating the cessation of fighting as an
adequate condition for Burma's refugees to return. These appear
to  indicate the Royal Thai Government's policy shift towards
forcible repatriation for Burmese refugees, as Human Rights
Watch/Asia in its report has concluded [30].

The growing crisis of displaced Burmese workers in Thailand is
a likely  pressure on the Royal Thai Government to adopt a more
hardening attitude towards Burma's refugees. There are an
estimated 600,000 displaced Burmese working in Thailand's labour
intensive industries. Thai businesses have utilized these
illegal workers as a cheap source of labour. Current economic
down-turn in Thailand, which forced many labour-intensive
industries to close down, will put these illegal Burmese workers
into a more vulnerable position. Most of these illegal workers
come from ethnic minority areas in Burma and therefore the
reasons of their flight are similar to that of the refugees.

Regarding ethnic insurgency issues in Burma, it must be
stressed that the problem is not simply about a few thousand
disgruntled minority people taking up arms against the central
government. The central issue, as noted in \S 2.3, is the
ethnic minority's struggle for economic, social and political
equality between minority people and majority Burmans. Clearly,
SLORC's attempt to subdue minority rebels by military means, and
the Thai authorities tendency to assist in doing so, will not
bring a lasting peace to Burma.

IV. Recommendations

4.1 The Role of General Assembly in Improving Human Rights

In recent years, it is noticeable that the international
community's understanding about the human rights situation in
Burma has greatly  improved. There are many high quality reports
in which human rights abuses in Burma are systematically
documented  by international organizations as well as by Burmese

>> Recommendations should be translated into Action

As regards  the opinion of international community and,
especially, United Nations General Assembly, there have been
strongly worded resolutions expressing  serious concerns about
the human rights situation in Burma. In the latest UN General
Assembly resolution in December 1996 (51/117), for example,
recommendations for improving the human rights situation in
Burma were made in a most comprehensive manner. Nonetheless,
these recommendations still need to be translated into action
since the General Assembly's human rights resolutions are not
legally binding upon the Member States of the United Nations,
in our case Burma, to implement those measures. It is therefore
the view of this author that the Assembly's resolutions should
be more specific in its demands, forcing the various
organizations and political entities in Burma to take
appropriate measures to improving the human rights situation in
Burma [31]. Such specific requests and instruction to the
Burmese military government to improve its human rights records
will also give the guidance to the non-government and human
rights organizations in their campaigns.

>> Dialogue in Burma is most important

One principal issue of importance in Burma, as has been
highlighted by Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in his
February 1997 report [32], is to initiate a tripartite political
dialogue by  parties to the hostilities. The 1996 UN General
Assembly resolution (51/117) also recommended a tripartite

        6. Urge the Government of Myanmar to engage, at the
        earliest possible date, in a substantive political
        dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and other political
        leaders, including representatives from ethnic groups,
        as the best means of promoting national reconciliation
        and the full and early restoration of democracy;}

The United Nations General Assembly should recommend the
Secretary-General and the UN Secretariat to use more resources
concerning the promoting of a dialogue in Burma. In the last year,
we were distressed to learn that former U.N.Special Rapporteur
for Human Rights, Professor Yozo Yokota, in his visit to Burma
was not afforded by a Burmese translator. More frequent visits
by UN officials, especially from the Department of Political
Affairs and Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, should also be

The current political environment also suggest that the
improvement to the human rights situation in Burma should be
made in a small but firm steps. To the view of this author, the
two main areas on which the international community can focus
are (1) removing the root causes of refugee flow  and (2)
curbing the effects of SLORC's draconian laws promulgated since

>> To remove root causes of displacement

Regarding refugee movements, the Special Rapporteur in his
reports has pointed out the Forced relocation and Forced labour
and portering as important root causes of the refugee flow [33].
The General Assembly resolution (51/117) has also recommended
regarding forced labour:

        13. Strongly urges the Government of Myanmar to fulfill
        its obligations as a State party to the Forced Labour
        Convention, 1930 (No.29) and to the Freedom of
        Association and Protection of the Right to Organize
        Convention, 1948 (No. 87) of the International Labour
        Organization, and encourages the Government of Myanmar
        to cooperate more closely with the International Labour

The problem of forced labour and forced relocation are also of
concern to the UNHCR in connection with the new influx of
Rohingyas to Bangladesh. The Amnesty International and Human
Rights Watch/Asia also have reported a widespread occurrence of
the problem of forced labour and forced relocation inside Burma
[34, 35]. It is therefore appropriate to tackle the forced
labour and forced relocation problems throughout Burma.

In order to reduce the forced labour and forced relocation in
Burma, the United Nations General Assembly should recommend the
representative-elects of May-1990 to legislate and enforce
acceptable practices for their local area. The U.N.Commission on
Human Rights and UNHCR should supervise such process in Burma.

>> To curb SLORC's repressive laws

In order to curb the effects of SLORC's draconian laws that have
been promulgated after 1988, the UN General Assembly should
highlight the illegitimate and non-constitutional nature of
those laws in this year's resolution. As Special Rapporteur for
Human Rights has pointed out [36], these laws criminalize far
too many aspects of normal civilian conducts. The fact that
military authorities enforce these laws selectively to  members
and supporters of the opposition, these laws become the
instruments of oppressions.

SLORC seized state power in 1988 with the promise to hold power
until  democratic elections were completed [37]. The
announcement of Declaration 1/1990 and subsequent rulings by
SLORC therefore must be considered to be non-constitutional and
illegitimate. The Special Rapporteur has highlighted these fact
in his reports as:

        Para.18. In these circumstances, as announced in
        Declaration 1/88 of 18 September 1988, the Armed Forces
        established martial law, overturning the Constitution of
        1974, dissolved all State organs, including the Pyithu
        Hluttaw (People's Assembly) and the State
        Council....{\em Abridged}.... From a juridical
        standpoint, the assumption of power by SLORC constituted
        a break from constitutionality and legal continuity.
        HOwever, everything indicated that SLORC did not intend
        to arrogate to itself for all time the
        extra-constitutional powers it had assumed.(A/51/466)}

The report further revealed as:

        Para.31. \ABR There could, arguably, have been some
        legitimacy in the assumption of power by SLORC, without
        the consent of the people, in circumstances which could
        be said to have amounted to a state of public emergency
        threatening the life of the nation. In any event, as its
        name indicates, an emergency is only temporary and
        cannot be said to last longer than a given situation
        required. \ABR The question arises, with growing
        urgency, as to whether any juridical legitimacy that
        could, arguably, have been derived from past
        acquiescence in the assumption of power by the Military
        Forces can any longer provide a defensible basis for the
        continued maintenance of a non-constitutional system
        based on the assumption of martial power. ....}

The SLORC, in its own Declaration 1/1990, has also stated the
non-constitutional nature of its rulings. In paragraph 6 of
Declaration 1/1990, SLORC explicitly states that:

        6. The State Law and Order Restoration Council
        (Tatmadaw) is not an organization that observes any
        constitution; it is an organization that is governing
        the nation by Martial Law.....}

Any rulings and laws promulgated by SLORC after the May-1990
election, therefore, are unaccountable to any constitution of
Burma and, hence, to the people of Burma. The UN General
Assembly should state in its resolution that these repressive
laws in Burma are illegitimate and non-constitutional.

4.2 Recommendation to the United Nations system

(a) Two existing problems for Rohingya refugees, clearly, are
the problem of residual cases from original exodus of 1991-92
and  the difficulty in separating between economic migrants
and refugees.

The residual cases for Burmese-Rohingyas, although it is an
obstacle to the current repatriation program, does present the
opportunity to solve the problem of statelessness and the issue
of citizenship in Burma. It also presents as an opportunity to
remove Burmese suspicions about the existence of
illegal-migrants from Bangladesh amongst the Rohingya
population, thus providing a good ground for the long-term
reintegration of the refugees [38].

As a first step, the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, Judge
Rajsoomer Lallah, should visit the two remaining Burma-Rohingya
refugee camps in Bangladesh. An independent Commission, with the
support of Special Rapporteur, should be set up to determine the
status/composition of the remaining 14,000 camp residents. Those
found to be Bangladeshi nationals who have illegally migrated to
Burma before 1991 must be taken back by the Government of
Bangladesh. The former members of anti-SLORC armed Rohingya
groups (possibly numbering in the few hundreds) should be given
temporary refugee status, as long as necessary, in Dhaka. Those
found to be  long-time residents of Arakan and are stateless
should all be taken back by Burma at the appropriate time.

The problem of economic displacements,  combined with Convention
related persecutions, can also be tackled. Clearly, the major
violations of concerned to the  UNHCR are those of forced labour,
forced relocation and restriction on  movements. The United
Nations General Assembly in this year should give the
representatives-elects in Burma the responsibility to legislate
and to monitor with regards to forced labour acceptable to their
region. The mandate of UNHCR should also be broaden to include
the protection of forced labour, forced relocation and
restrictions on the movements of the refugees.

It is also reported that the UNHCR personnel, for operational
reasons, cannot be as vocal as human rights monitors in raising
concerns with the governments. Therefore, the United Nations
General Assembly should recommend to send in-country human
rights monitors to Burma.

(b) The Secretary-General and High Commissioner for Refugees
should urge the Royal Thai Government to transfer protection
responsibility of Burma's refugees living in the camps to the

The Secretary-General should also make initiative to form a U.N.
Contact group for Burma. The U.N. High Commissioner for
Refugees, with the support of ASEAN and ASEAN Regional Forum
(ARF), should set-up an {\em ad-hoc Regional Committee}  to
tackle refugee and displaced people problems for Burma [39].

The U.N. Secretary-General should set-up an escrow account for
the Burmese refugee repatriation program. Initiatives should be
made by the UN to seize monies from the selling of Burma's
natural gas to Thailand.

(c) The Special Rapporteur for Human Rights and United Nations
Commission on Human Rights should give particular  attention to
oppressive laws promulgated by SLORC. The United Nations General
Assembly resolution should highlight the  non-constitutional
nature of SLORC and its rulings. The Commission on Human Rights
should instruct SLORC to repeal those laws restricting freedom
of speech, association and assembly.

(d) Member States of the United Nations generally have the
anxiety of setting a precedent by the UN whenever human rights
matters are raised at UN Forums, and call upon the Burmese
government to improve its behaviour. Therefore, the
U.N.Secretary-General, Commission on Human Rights, Governments
of Democratic countries - especially the United States - must
take strong stand on human rights issues at the U.N. forums.

4.3  Recommendation to UN General Assembly

The United Nations General Assembly:\\

1. Urge the Government of Thailand to allow the United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees to protect and assist Burma's
refugees in Thailand;\\
2. Urge the Government of Thailand and the Government of Burma
to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the UNHCR for the
safe and voluntary return of Burma's refugees from Thailand;\\
3. Urge the Government of Bangladesh to take back all
Bangladeshi nationals currently in refugee camps who were found
to have migrated into Burma before 1991;\\
4. Urge the Government of Bangladesh to provide temporary asylum
to those Burmese nationals until such time  that a change of
government in Burma has been effected;\\
5. Authorize the United Nations to send human rights monitors to
6. Authorize the Secretary-General to set-up escrow account for
Burma's refugee repatriation programs; and authorize United
Nations Secretary-General to seize funds from Burma's sale of
natural gas to Thailand.

[1]  Asian Survey, Vol. XXXVII, No.2, "BURMA IN 1996: One
Economy, Two POlities" by J. Guyot, February 1997.

[2] United Nations Commission on Human Rights reports on Myanmar
prepared by Special Rapporteur, UN Documents: A/51/466, 8
October 1996; E/CN.4/1997/64, 6 February 1997.

[3] The State of the World's Refugee 1995 by UNHCR,
"Repatriation to Myanmar, pp.32-63' The Problem of
Statelessness, pp.67," Oxford University Press, 1995.

[4] Amnesty International, "Myanmar/Bangladesh: Rohingyas - LThe
search for safety", AI Index: ASA 13/07/97, September 1997.

[5] United States Committee for Refugees, "Situation report for
Burmese refugees in Thailand (preliminary)", 16 May 1997.

[6] Human Rights Watch/Asia, "Burma/Thailand: No Safety in
Burma, No Sanctuary in Thailand", Vol.9, No.6(C), July 1997.

[7] "LETTERS TO A DICTATOR: Official correspondence from NLD
Chairman U Aung Shwe to the SLORC's Senior General Than Shwe,
from December 1995 to March 1997" Published by All Burma Student
Democratic Front, July 1997.

[8] Amnesty International, "Myanmar: Intimidation and
Imprisonment September-December 1996", AI Index: ASA 16/01/97
February 1997.

[*] In a latest development, SLORC allow the NLD to hold a
congress in 27-29 September 1997 without arresting members of
NLD. This was interpreted by observers as of SLORC trying to
mitigate the international community's concern about the lack of
political dialogue in Burma.

[9] The particular aspects of 'constructive engagement policy'
of Thailand in 1991/92 is explained in the report by HUman
Rights Watch/Asia, "Burma/Thailand: The Mon -persecuted in
Burma, forced back from Thailand", Vol.6, No. 14, December 1994.

[10] The ASEAN engagements appears to be in progress:(1) On
23-September 1997, Burma's strongman, General Ne Win paid a
'private visit' to the President Suharto of Indonesia. (2) On 3
October 1997, SLORC Secretary-1, General Khin NYunt, and
ministers are in Singapore for 'trade mission' and (3) On 16-18
October 1997, President Fidel Ramos of Philippines to visit

[11] Far Eastern Economic Review, "Paper Tigers" by Bertil
Lintner, 7 August 1997.

[12] The Economist Intelligence UNit Country Report, 2nd quarter
1997. The EIU survey has shown that 65 percent increase in
staple food price during 1996 with estimated annual inflation of
25 percent.

[13] BURMA REPORT on Human Rights Practices in 1996, United
States Department of State, 30 January 1997.

[14] Parliament of Commonwealth of Australia, Joint Standing
Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, "A Report on
Human Rights and the Lack of Progress Towards Democracy in Burma
(Myanmar)", October 1995. Section 5.21:

        "In all 702 delegates attended the first session of the
        Convention: 99 were representatives who had won seats
        in the May 1990 elections, another 48 came from
        political parties, categories 1 and 2 above. Therefore
        over 550 of teh delegates were selected by the SLORC.
        Since 1993, the attendance at the Convention has
        declined by 61 delegates. At the beginning, only one in
        seven delegates were representative in the democratic
        sense of the word."

[15] Bangkok Post, 17 March 1996. See also
"06/09/96: Evaluating Current State of CEasefire,

[16] See also discussion on
"01/10/96: Towards Political Solution to Burma's Refugee
Problem, The Report to U.N. General Assembly in 1996

[17] The Special Rapporteur for Human Rights has raised concerns
about such composition of un-elected representative in a
parliament may cause contradiction to democratic principles (See
A/51/466, 8 October 1996, Section D. Non-Conformity of the legal
framework with international norms). Such problem may,
nevertheless, be remedied by making special arrangements. See
"29/04/97: Letter to the Secretary-General Kofi Annan

[18] Reports and analysis on Rohingya exodus in 1996 can be
found in -- Human Rights Watch/Asia, "Burma: The Rohingya
Muslims - Ending a Cycle of Exodus ?", Vol.8, No.9(C), September

[19] See also in -- United States Committee for Refugees, "USCR
site visit to Bangladesh JUNe 20 - JUly1, 1996", July 1996.

[20] Latest report on the situation of Rohingyas can be found in
-- Amnesty International, "Myanmar/Bangladesh: Rohingyas - The
Search for Safety", AI Index: ASA 13/07/97, September 1997.

[21] U.S. Committee for Refugee in July-1996 report confirmed
the existence of 'reverse flow' of repatriated refugee in the
exodus last year as:

        "Observers estimate htat between one quarter and one
        third of recent arrivals appear to be former refugees
        who repatriated to Burma in past years. This reverse
        flow has fueled concern about the degree to which UNHCR
        has been able to guarantee the safety of returnees, to
        monitor their wellbeings, and to assist their

One can expect the same situation exist in the exodus of this

[22] Agence France Press, 27-29 July 1997; Reuters, 31 July
1997; AFP, 3 August 1997.

[23] AI Index: ASA 13/07/97, September 1997.

[24] Human Rights Watch/Asia, "Burma/Thailand: No Safety in
Burma, No Sanctuary in Thailand", Vol.9, No.6(C), July 1997.

[25] Burma Issue (a special edition), "To forcibly Repatriate or
Not: Thailand's Dilemma", April 1997.

[26] United States Committee for Refugees, "Situation report for
Burmese refugees in Thailand (preliminary)", 16 May 1997.

[27] The circumstances surrounding Burmese refugees and Thai
authorities in 1988-92 may be found in -- Asia Watch, "Abuses
abainst Burmese refugees in Thailand", Vol.4, No.7, 20 March

[28] Human Rights Watch/Asia, "Burma/Thailand< The Non:
Persecuted in Burma, Forced back from Thailand", December 1994,
        "To facilitate the repatriation of Burmese, a
        Thai/Burmese Regional Border Committee was formed in
        1993. The committee was also to assist in other border
        problems: fishing rights, illegal logging (in Burma),
        tourism, narcotics and ...{abridged}....At an April 29,
        1994 meeting, Thailand agreed to "arrest 'terrorists'
        traveling on false passports through Bangkok." ...

[29] United States Committee for Refugees, "Situation report of
Burmese refugees in Thailand (preliminary)", 16 May 1997.

[30] Human Rights Watch/Asia, "Burma/Thailand: No Safety in
Burma, No Sanctuary in Thailand", Vol.9, No.6(C), July 1997.

[31] For instance, the UN General Assembly resolution of 1996
(51/117) urge the government of Burma regarding with refugee
        para.16. Encourages the Government of Myanmar to create
        the necessary conditions to ensure an end to the
        movements of refugees to nenghbouring countries and to
        create conditions conducive to their voluntary return
        and their full reintegration, in condition of safety and

Where it is possible, the UNGA, in addition, should made the
demand to the Government of Myanmar to sign a Memorandum of
UNderstanding with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
for the safe and voluntary repatriation of refugees in Thailand.
Such step will enable UNited Nations system to follow-up in
implementing General Assembly resolutions.

[32] E/CN.4/1997/64

[33] Report to General Assembly -- A/51/466, Section IV. Para
117-145; Report to Commission on Human Rights - E/CN.4/1997/64,
Section III.

[34] Amnesty International, "Myanmar: Ethnic minority rights
under attack", AI Index: ASA 16/20/97, 22 July 1997.

[35] Human Rights Watch/Asia, "Thailand/Burma: No Safety in
Burma, No Sanctuary in LThailand", Vol.9, No.6(C), July 1997.

[36] See A/51/466, Section IV: Impact of Myanmar Law on HUman
Rights; E/CN.4/1997/64, Section II: The Exercise of civil and
political rights.

[37] SLORC made to transfer power to elected government on many
occasion in 1988. On 23-September-1988, for example, SLORC
chairman Gen. Saw Maung stated the military has "No desire
whatsoever to cling on to power for a long period." and "our
Tatmadaw on its part would ... after handing over power to the
government which emerges after the free and fair general
elections in which the citizens of the nation would be able to
exercise their full democratic rights. (SLORC communication to
all Burmese missions on 27/9/88).

[38] "09/08/97: Rohingyas - resolving resitual cases.

[39] Notes on International Protection, Executive Committee of
the High Commissioner Program,(A/AC.96/863 Para.31,1-July-1996)

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