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                   C.  The issue of citizenship
119.    In his report to the General Assembly (A/51/466) the
Special Rapporteur made some observations on the issue of
citizenship.  It would be useful to examine the legislation
governing citizenship, if only summarily, in the light of the
information that is available, as such examination may raise
questions concerning its consistency with internationally
recognized norms.  The Special Rapporteur notes that he has
not had the benefit of discussion with the Myanmar authorities
on this issue and that he proposes to do so when he is
authorized to visit the country.
              1.  The different types of citizenship
120.    Under the 1982 citizenship law there are three types
of citizens:  full, associate and naturalized.
121.    A full citizen must be able to prove his birthplace
and the nationality of his ancestors prior to the first
British annexation in 1823, and they must have belonged to an
ethnic group settled on the territory before that year.
122.    An associate citizen is a person one of whose
grandparents was a citizen of another country.  Associate
citizenship is thus reserved for former foreign citizens or
Stateless persons.  One must note, however, that, in
accordance with decree No. 3 relating to the citizenship law,
the deadline for submission of applications for associate
citizenship expired on 15 October 1982, and foreigners and
Stateless persons can thus no longer apply for associate
123.    Citizenship by naturalization can be granted to a
person who can prove that he was born in Myanmar and his
parents had entered and resided in Myanmar before 4 January
1948.  Persons with one parent who is a full, associate or
naturalized citizen and one whom is a foreigner, with parents
who are both naturalized citizens with one parent who is a
naturalized and one who is an associate citizen can also apply
for naturalized citizenship.  Applicants for naturalized
citizenship must be able to speak one of the national
languages well.
                     2.  Obtaining citizenship
124.    While full citizens pass on their citizenship to their
children if married to a person holding any form of
citizenship, children born of parents who are either both
naturalized citizens or one a naturalized and the other an
associate citizen do not automatically become citizens, but
can apparently apply for naturalized citizenship.  The
citizenship law does not stipulate the status of children
whose parents are both associate citizens, but it would seem
that in practice such children would receive associate
citizenship more or less automatically.
125.    Regarding applications for citizenship, the only
provision still enabling applications is section 8(a) of the
1982 citizenship law, which gives the authorities the
possibility to confer in the interest of the State, on any
person, citizenship or associate or naturalized citizenship. 
The decision would thus seem to be completely within the
discretion of the authorities, as there is no clear legal
right to obtain citizenship upon fulfilling certain criteria.
                   3.  Revocation of citizenship
126.    All forms of citizenship, except full citizenship may
be revoked by the State.  Full citizenship can be revoked only
if the person acquires the citizenship of another country or
leaves Myanmar permanently.  Associate and naturalized
citizens can also be deprived of their citizenship on a number
of other grounds.  The grounds for revocation are so widely
formulated that they may easily give rise to arbitrariness in
application.  A person deprived of citizenship cannot,
according to article 22 of the citizenship law apply, to 
become citizens again.  By declaration 3/93 of 6 May 1993, the
Government invited former citizens residing abroad who wished
to give up their foreign nationality to apply for Myanmar
citizenship within a year, an invitation seemingly not
extending to persons deprived of their citizenship against
their will.
127.    As for the right to appeal decisions on revocation of
citizenship, it would seem that a person whose citizenship has
been revoked by a decision of the Central Board has the right
to appeal to the Council of Ministers.  The Central Board,
consisting of the Minister for Immigration and Population as
Chairman, the Minister for Defence, the Minister for Home
Affairs, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and one person to be
designated by the Chairman, has the competence to decide
whether a person is a full, associate or naturalized citizen
and to revoke or terminate citizenship.
    D.  Conformity of the different forms of citizenship with
        international norms                                  
128.    Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights provides, inter alia, as follows:
          "(1)   Everyone has the right to take part in the
government of his country, directly or through freely chosen
          "(2)   Everyone has the right of equal access to
public service in his country."
Article 2 states:
    "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set
forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind,
such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or
other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or
other status."
Further, article 16 of the Declaration provides that:
    "Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to
race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to
found a family ...  The family is the natural and fundamental
group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society
and the State." 
129. Article 7 of the Declaration states that "All are equal
before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to
equal protection of the law."
130. The above provisions of the Declaration have also been
reflected in articles 2, 23, 25 and 26 of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  In particular,
article 25 was the subject of a general comment adopted
by the Human Rights Committee at its 57th session.a  Further,
there is a provision in article 24 that states that every
child has the right to acquire a nationality.  It is
significant to note that the Human Rights Committee, in its
general comment, stated that, "Whatever form of constitution
or government is in force, the Covenant requires States to
adopt such legislative and other measures as may be necessary
to ensure that citizens have an effective opportunity to
enjoy the rights it protects.  Article 25 lies at the core of
democratic government based on the consent of the people and
in conformity with the principles of the Covenant."  The
Committee further stated that no distinctions were permitted
between citizens in the enjoyment of those rights on the
grounds, among others, of race, language, religion, national
or social origin or birth status.  Distinctions between those
who acquired citizenship by birth and those who were
naturalized may raise question of compatibility with the
131. The various distinctions that exist in the law of Myanmar
regulating citizenship and its effect on the right to vote, to
be elected or to have access to public office, and indeed on
other rights promulgated in the Declaration and that are
common to citizens as well as non-citizens in any given State,
such as freedom of expression, movement, association and all
the other fundamental rights, would appear to raise serious
questions of compatibility with the principles governing the
enjoyment of fundamental rights as promulgated in the
132. In Myanmar, only full and naturalized citizens are
entitled to enjoy citizenship rights, with the exception of
rights from time to time stipulated by the State.  All forms
of citizenship entail the right to vote, but only full
citizens may stand as candidates in elections. 
133. Although not precluded by the citizenship law, an
associate citizen cannot in practice own land or fixed
property, be educated as a doctor or an engineer or work as a
private teacher or for a foreign firm, United Nations agency
or foreign embassy or stand for any elected post.
                  1.  Citizenship identity cards
134. While all citizens are in principle entitled to a
passport for travel abroad, the passports remain with the
authorities while their holders are staying in Myanmar, and
thus cannot be used for identification.  Instead, citizens are
required to carry identity cards (citizenship cards) at all
135. The identity cards are coloured differently according to
the type of citizenship one possesses.  The cards must be
produced to enjoy a number of basic rights and services:  to
vote, to buy travel tickets, to stay outside one's ward of
residence with friends or family or in hostels, to receive
health services or to attend high school or university. 
Identity cards are routinely checked by the police and the
army.  The card number is noted in connection with the
smallest transaction and is sent to the relevant authorities. 
In 1990 the identity cards were changed, and now also include
mention of ethnic origin and religion.  The necessity of
mentioning a person's ethnicity and religion in this way
remains open to question.
136. The confiscation of identity cards has also been used by
the authorities as a means of harassment of recognized
137. On 26 January 1997 two NLD executives, who were staying
in the Tawwin guest house in Myaungmya township were searched
and had their citizen identity cards confiscated by local
authorities.  The cards were returned only after they had
signed a pledge to return immediately to Yangon.  Their
meeting with the Chairman of the NLD Irrawaddy Divisional
Organizing Committee was thus prevented.
138. The lack of proof of citizenship in the form of identity
cards affects numerous aspects of life of those concerned. 
First, the right to freedom of movement is restricted.  Not
only are these persons prevented from travelling abroad, but
they cannot even travel outside their ward of residence, as an
identity card is needed to register as an overnight guest. 
The lack of an identity card in addition precludes access to
health services and prevents young people from attending high
school or university.
                 2.  Groups particularly affected
139. Many persons belonging to ethnic minorities have no
identity cards, even if they would be entitled to full
citizenship under the citizenship law.  Proving entitlement to
citizenship is made difficult by lack of access to written
records and the difficulty of travelling to government-
controlled areas for registration.  Furthermore, government
officials are said to be generally unwilling to register
persons belonging to minorities.
140. It is almost impossible for the Rakhine Muslims, or
Rohingya, to become registered citizens, in particular
children born in refugee camps.  Following the promulgation of
the 1982 citizenship law, all citizens were obliged to
register for new identity cards.  By December 1992, only
845,000 out of 1,200,000 inhabitants of Rakhine State had
applied, the lowest percentage in the country.  About 30 per
cent of the relatively few applications made in Rakhine
State were either rejected or are still awaiting a decision. 
Still, none of the returnees from Bangladesh is said to have
received identity cards classifying them as any form of
citizen.  In fact, the Government of Myanmar refers to the
returnees as Bangladeshi citizens.  The army was said to have
taken away the old identity cards from the 1950s and 1960s
from many Muslims as they left the country.  The only identity
documents owned by many Rakhine Muslims are thus allegedly
copies of so-called family lists, or lists of household
members that are kept by local villages or township
authorities as proof of residence.  In July 1995 the
Government issued new temporary registration certificates,
intended for foreign residents or Stateless persons, to the
population of northern Rakhine State, at least in theory both
to returnees and to persons who never left.  The cards were
issued not on the basis of the 1982 citizenship law
but on the basis of the 1949 Residents of Burma Registration
Act and the 1951 Residents of Burma Registration Rules, both
reintroduced solely for the purpose of registering the
Rohingya.  No figures as to the number of Rohingya who have
in fact received the cards are available.
141. Most of the Muslim population of Rakhine State have not
been issued citizenship cards under the existing
naturalization regulations, and indeed most of them are not
even considered so-called foreign residents.
142. The 1982 citizenship law would in fact seem to be
intended to prevent the Rakhine Muslims from being recognized
as citizens, as the majority of the group settled in Myanmar
after 1823.  The law is, however, not always applied, and the
Rohingya were permitted to vote and to form political parties
during the 1990 elections, which must be seen as a de facto
recognition of the status of the Rohingya by the Government.
                          A.  Conclusions
143. The Special Rapporteur has unfortunately come to the
conclusion, based on his examination of the human rights
situation in Myanmar over the past year, that there has been
no change in the situation since he submitted his report to
the General Assembly in 1996 and to the Commission on Human
Rights in 1997 and that his recommendations have gone unheeded
by the Government of Myanmar.  As a result, the conclusions of
the Special Rapporteur in his reports to the General Assembly
at its fifty-first session (A/51/466, paras. 146-152) and the
Commission on Human Rights at its fifty-third session
(E/CN.4/1997/64, paras. 101-107) remain substantially the
same, except for the fact that, according to certain reports,
a meeting took place in mid-July between a representative of
SLORC and an official of NLD.  There have been suggestions
that the substance of the discussions was political in
character, but the Special Rapporteur has no concrete
information in that regard. 
144. The Special Rapporteur regrets that, in spite of his
continuing efforts to obtain the authorization of the
Government of Myanmar to visit the country and in spite of the
encouraging statements made by the Permanent Representative of
Myanmar, both in the General Assembly and in the Commission on
Human Rights, he has not so far obtained any response.  The
Special Rapporteur has nevertheless taken great care in
assessing the information gathered from all sources and
organizations, both intergovernmental and non-governmental,
including information gathered during his mission to the
Myanmar/Thailand border in the light of the laws, decrees and
orders of Myanmar available in the Office of the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 
145. The Special Rapporteur observes that the absence of
respect for the rights pertaining to democratic governance
continues to be at the root of all the major violations of
human rights in Myanmar.  Such absence is inherent in a power
structure that is autocratic and accountable only to itself,
thus resting on the denial and repression of fundamental
rights.  The Special Rapporteur concludes that genuine and
enduring improvements in the human rights situation in Myanmar
cannot be attained without respect for the rights pertaining
to democratic governance.  In that regard, he notes with
particular concern that the electoral process initiated in
Myanmar by the general elections of 27 May 1990 has yet,
after seven years, to reach its conclusion, and that the
Government still has not implemented its commitments to take
all necessary steps towards the establishment of democracy in
the light of those elections.
146. Government representatives have repeatedly explained that
the Government is willing to transfer power to a civilian
Government, but that in order to do so there must be a strong
constitution, and that in order to have a strong constitution
they are doing their best to complete the work of the National
Convention.  However, the Special Rapporteur cannot help but
observe that, given the fact that most of the representatives
who were democratically elected in 1990 have been excluded
from participating in the meetings of the National Convention,
the restrictions imposed upon the delegates (practically no
freedom to assemble, to print and distribute leaflets or to
make statements freely) and the strict guidelines (including
the requirement that the Tatmadaw play a leading role), the
National Convention does not constitute the necessary steps
towards the restoration for democracy, fully respecting the
will of the people as expressed in the democratic elections
held in 1990.
147. The well-documented reports, photographs and testimony
received by the Special Rapporteur lead him to conclude that
extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the practice
of torture, portering and forced labour continue to occur in
Myanmar, particularly in the context of development programmes
and counter-insurgency operations in minority-dominated
148. With regard to arbitrary arrest and detention, the
Special Rapporteur does not doubt that such violations take
place on a wide scale, if for no other reason than that an
examination of the laws in place shows that such violations
are legal and may easily occur.  At the same time, the absence
of an independent judiciary, coupled with a host of executive
orders criminalizing far too many aspects of normal civilian
conduct that prescribe enormously disproportionate penalties
and authorize arrest and detention without judicial review or
any other form of judicial authorization, leads the Special
Rapporteur to conclude that a significant percentage of all
arrests and detentions in Myanmar are arbitrary when measured
against generally accepted international standards.  The
Special Rapporteur expresses his deep concern at the continued
detention of many political prisoners, in particular elected
representatives, and the recent arrests and harassment of
other supporters of democratic groups in Myanmar, culminating
in the massive arrests of NLD supporters and the virtual
blockade of the General Secretary of NLD in her compound.
149. On the basis of virtually unanimous reports of continuing
violations and other information, the Special Rapporteur
concludes that there is no freedom of thought, opinion,
expression or association in Myanmar.  The absolute power of
SLORC is exercised to silence opposition and penalize those
holding dissenting views or beliefs.  Because of both visible
and invisible pressures, the people live in a climate of fear
that whatever they or their family members say or do,
particularly in the area of politics, they risk arrest and
interrogation by the police or military intelligence officers. 
The Special Rapporteur notes that NLD leaders cannot assemble
in a group, cannot freely discuss and cannot publish or
distribute printed or videotaped material. In such
circumstances it is difficult to believe that open discussion
and free exchanges of views and opinions can possibly take
place in Myanmar, unless they are in support of the present
military regime.
150. Turning to freedom of movement and residence in Myanmar,
including the right to leave and re-enter one's own country,
the Special Rapporteur concludes that there are clear
violations of those freedoms in both law and practice. 
Specifically, severe, unreasonable and, in the case of the
Muslim Rakhine population, racially based restrictions are
placed on travel inside the country and abroad.  On the matter
of internal deportations and forced relocations, the Special
Rapporteur concludes that the Government's policy violates
freedom of movement and residence and, in some cases,
constitutes discriminatory practices based on ethnicity.
151.  An analysis of the laws relating to citizenship and
their effect on the exercise of civil and political rights
raises serious questions of the consistency of those laws with
generally accepted international norms, since those laws
appear to be discriminatory on the basis of religion,
ethnicity, equality before the law and special measures of
protection to which children are entitled.  In the short term
this situation produces serious violations of the rights of
both minorities and other persons living in the country as
well as a sense of not belonging to Myanmar.  In the long
term, the situation is likely to encourage and exacerbate
secessionist movements likely to be destructive of a
multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation.  Sheer repression
following efforts at ceasefire agreements would not appear to
be the answer.
                        B.  Recommendations
152. In the light of the foregoing conclusions, the Special
Rapporteur submits the following recommendations for the
consideration of the General Assembly and of the Government of
    (a) To ensure that the Government of Myanmar genuinely
reflects the will of the people, steps should be taken to
allow all citizens to participate freely in the political
process in accordance with the principles of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and to accelerate the process of
transition to democracy, in particular through the transfer of
power to the democratically elected representatives.  The
institutions of Myanmar should be such as to ensure that the
executive authorities are accountable to the citizenry in a
clear and meaningful way and, furthermore, steps should be
taken to restore the independence of the judiciary and to
subject the executive to the rule of law and render unjust and
unjustifiable action justiciable;
    (b) All necessary measures should be taken to accelerate
the process of transition to a democratic order and to involve
in a meaningful way the representatives duly elected in 1990. 
Genuine and substantive discussions should take place without
further delay between the present military regime and the
leaders of NLD and with other political leaders who were duly
elected in the democratic elections of 1990, including
representatives of ethnic minorities. Certain steps reportedly
taken in July by SLORC, apparently to initiate such
discussions, are a welcome and positive development, but that
development must be intensified.  SLORC should do all it can
to ensure that the character and substance of the discussions
are genuine and are perceived to be so by all the
    (c) Immediate measures should be taken to put an end to
the harassment of the leaders and the membership of NLD, to
ensure that the General Secretary of NLD is genuinely free and
able to exercise her functions without fear of attack and to
ensure that all political parties are able freely to e xercise
their rights;
    (d) All political detainees, including elected political
representatives, students, workers, peasants and others
arrested or detained under martial law after the 1988 and 1990
demonstrations or as a result of the National Convention
should be tried by a properly constituted and independent
civilian court in open judicial proceedings and in accordance
with all the guarantees of fair trial and due process in
conformity with applicable international norms.  If found
guilty in such judicial proceedings, they should be given a
just sentence proportionate to their offence.  Otherwise, they
should be released immediately, and the Government should
ensure that there are no acts of intimidation, threats or
reprisals against them or their families and take appropriate
measures to compensate all who have suffered arbitrary arrest
or detention; 
    (e) Constitutionality and the rule of law should be
re-established, and SLORC orders and decrees should no longer
be the basis of law.  All laws rendering violations of human
rights legitimate should be repealed immediately, and all laws
should be given due publicity.  The principle of
non-retroactivity of penal laws should be respected in all
    (f) The Government of Myanmar should give particular
attention to prison conditions and take all necessary steps to
allow international humanitarian organizations to have access
thereto and to communicate freely and confidentially with
    (g) Urgent steps should be taken to facilitate and
guarantee the enjoyment of the freedom of opinion, expression
and association, in particular by decriminalizing the
expression of opposition views and by relinquishing government
controls over the media and literary and artistic works; 
    (h) Restrictions relating to the entry and exit of
citizens into and out of the country, as well as their
movement within the country, should be abolished;
    (i) All discriminatory policies that interfere with the
free and equal enjoyment of property should cease, and
adequate compensation should be given to those who have been
arbitrarily or unjustly deprived of their property;
    (j) The Government of Myanmar should fulfil its
obligations under ILO Convention No. 87 of 1948 concerning
freedom of association and protection of the right to
organize.  In compliance with that Convention, it should
guarantee by law the existence and practice of free trade
unions.  In that respect, the Government of Myanmar is
encouraged to cooperate more closely with ILO through a
technical cooperation programme so that the very serious
discrepancies between law and practice, on the one hand, and
the Convention, on the other hand, are eliminated immediately;
    (k) The Government of Myanmar is urged to comply with its
obligations under ILO Convention No. 29 prohibiting the
practice of forced labour and forced portering.  The
Government should urgently take measures to repeal the
offending legal provisions under the Village Act and the Towns
Act to prevent the continuation of the practice of forced
labour.  The Government is encouraged to cooperate with the
ILO Commission of Inquiry; 
    (l) The Government of Myanmar should take immediate steps
to put an end to the enforced displacement of persons and to
create appropriate conditions to prevent the flow of refugees
to neighbouring States.  In the event that the relocation of
villagers becomes necessary in circumstances that are in
conformity with international norms, proper consultations
should take place with the villagers, including the payment of
appropriate compensation, reviewable by independent courts,
and measures to ensure that adequate food, housing, medical
care and social amenities, including arrangements for the
education of children, are provided;
    (m) The Government of Myanmar should refrain from actions
that contribute to insecurity affecting the population, such
as the use of military forces and bombardments against
civilian targets along its border with Thailand;
    (n) In order to promote the repatriation of the Muslims
and other minorities of Myanmar, the Government should create
the necessary conditions of respect for their human rights. 
The Government should ensure, in law and in practice, their
safe return and resettlement in their villages of origin.  To
that end, it should also promote their complete civil,
political, social, economic and cultural participation in
Myanmar without restriction or discrimination due to status;
    (o) The laws relating to citizenship should be revised in
order to ensure that they have no unfavourable incidence on
the exercise of civil and political rights and to be
consistent with generally accepted norms.  Such laws should be
substantially revised so as to remove all discriminatory
features based on religion, ethnicity or inequality and to
remove any adverse impact on the right of children to have a
nationality.  Further, measures should be adopted by the
Administration to ensure that citizenship can be obtained
without burdensome and unrealistic administrative procedures
and requirements.  Those laws should also be brought into
conformity with the principles embodied in the 1961 Convention
on the Reduction of Statelessness.  Consideration should also
be given by Myanmar to ratify that Convention as well as the
1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its
Additional Protocol of 1967.  The 1982 citizenship law should
be revised or amended to abolish its overly burdensome
requirements for citizenship.  The provision of the law
regarding categories of second-class citizens should not be
applied in a manner that has a discriminatory effect on
racial or ethnic minorities, particularly the Rakhine Muslims. 
It should be brought in line with the principles embodied in
the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness;  
    (p)  The Government of Myanmar should take steps to bring
the acts of soldiers, including both privates and officers, in
line with accepted international human rights and humanitarian
standards so as to prevent arbitrary killings, rapes and
confiscation of property, or forcing persons into acts of
labour, portering, relocation or otherwise treating persons
without respect for their dignity as human beings.  When local
villagers are hired for porterage and other work, it should be
done with their consent and adequate wages should be paid. 
The nature of the work should be reasonable and in accordance
with established international labour standards.  When the
relocation of villagers is considered necessary for military
operations or for development projects in the public interest,
proper consultation with the villagers should take place and
appropriate compensation should be paid.  The amount of the
compensation should be reviewable by independent courts;
    (q) Military and law enforcement personnel, including
prison guards, should be thoroughly informed and trained
regarding their responsibilities in accordance with
international human rights norms and humanitarian law.  Such
standards should be incorporated into Myanmar law, including
the new constitution;
    (r) Given the magnitude of the abuses documented, the
Government should subject all officials committing human
rights violations to strict disciplinary control and
punishment and put an end to the culture of impunity that
prevails at present in the public and military sectors;
    (s) The Government of Myanmar is urged to fulfil in good
faith the obligations it assumed under Articles 55 and 56 of
the Charter of the United Nations to take joint and separate
action in cooperation with the Organization for the
achievement of universal respect for, and observance of, human
rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as
to race, sex, language or religion.  The Special Rapporteur
notes that the Government of Myanmar should encourage the
adoption, as one of the basic constitutional principles, of
the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a
copy of which should be made widely available in the main
languages spoken in Myanmar; 
    (t) The Government of Myanmar should further consider
accession to the international covenants on human rights, the
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the two additional
protocols to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and, in the
meantime, to ensure the application of the principles
proclaimed in those international instruments in order to
evidence a firm commitment towards the promotion and
protection of human rights without discrimination of any kind
outlawed under those norms;
    (u) Myanmar law should be brought in line with accepted
international standards regarding protection of physical
integrity rights, including the right to life, the protection
against "disappearance", the prohibition of torture, cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment, the provision of humane
conditions for all persons under detention and the insurance
of basic judicial guarantees. 
    (a) Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifty-first
Session, Supplement No. 40 (A/51/40), General Comment No. 25
(57), para. 365 and annex V.