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The BurmaNet News: May 12, 1998
- Subject: The BurmaNet News: May 12, 1998
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 12 May 1998 08:15:00
------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"
The BurmaNet News: May 12, 1998
Noted In Passing: "In reality there are many deserters in the SLORC army.
Some deserters explained that if a soldier escapes from his unit, officers
do not take out his name for a year but go on taking his salary. In each
battalion, there are about 50 deserters annually and an average of 40 new
soldiers arrive in a year. Young boys are recruited but there are problems
because those children soldiers ask for snacks in front lines and cry when
they hear gunfire." - Hsaw Wah Deh (see FTUB: Situation on the Slorc Soldiers)
FTUB: SITUATION ON THE SLORC SOLDIERS
THE NATION: RANGOON TO TRY WESTERNER
THE NATION: BURMA OPTS FOR THAICOM-3
NYT: ROAD TO RICHES STARTS IN GOLDEN TRIANGLE
DOS: SHATTUCK'S TESTIMONY TO HOUSE FOREIGN OPERATIONS
FEDERATED TRADE UNIONS - BURMA: SITUATION ON THE SLORC SOLDIERS
2 May, 1998
Documented by Hsaw Wah Deh-FTUB(TUR/HR)
The military junta of Burma has increased buying arms and increased the
number of battalions to about 400. In addition to increasing the battalion
numbers, they are increasing the number of soldiers making up a battalion.
A company has from 118 to 135 soldiers. However, there are not many
soldiers in the army and the morale and discipline of the soldiers are
rather doubtful. A sergeant who had deserted in Thailand said, "There are
only 5 to 6 soldiers in a section of most of the battalions, in a platoon
there are about 15 to 18 soldiers and a company has only about 50 soldiers.
The whole battalion has around 250 soldiers including wounded and clerks.
Very difficult to control because each section has about two children and
the other two are drug users. Officers are all corrupt and soldiers do not
trust and rely on them. Officers also do not trust privates. Even on the
frontier, sometimes, sentries' guns are kept by officers, who worry about
soldiers escaping with guns." He added, " I was selected to march in the
52nd Anniversary of Armed Forces Day Parade. There, our arms were checked
several times, and we did not get permission to visit but we had to stay
with guards who watched us carefully."
How soldiers are recruited
The army demands villages to send young men (even criminals) through a
quota system and uses tricks to join the army. There is a system that if a
soldier recruits a person, he is rewarded 500 Kyats and if a soldier wants
to resign, he has to recruit 3 new soldiers to get permission of
resignation from the army.
A 14 years old SLORC private from LIB. 548 explained that in Summer, 1997 a
group of soldiers came to his village in Mandalay division and said, "There
was a riot between Buddhists and Moslems in Mandalay. Young and brave men
are required to protect famous pagodas and monastery. Each person who
protects pagodas will receive 100 Kyats a day plus meals." Then, he and
about 50 villagers near by his village went to Mandalay with the soldiers.
They had to watch monks destroying a mosque. They did not get 100 Kyats
allowance. Instead, a train took them to Moulmein. Then they were sent by
cars to a town where there was a training camp for new soldiers. He did not
know which town because the trainers never said anything about the place
and disliked when asked about the location of the training school. Three
months later, he was sent to LIB. 548 in Kawkareik township. He was not
happy as a soldier, and so decided to escape from his unit. He had no
knowledge about politics, and even did not realize what the KNU was, so he
was shocked when he learned that persons who provided food and guided
direction to Thailand were "Nga Pwes" (pejorative name for the KNU
guerillas used by the SLORC). Also, officers from the KNU 7th Brigade were
amazed by his experiences.
A teen-age boy from Letpadan, Pegu division explained his experiences: " I
met a friendly soldier at a pagoda festival and he gave some money for
gambling. We won and lost and at last the money went out. Then, he advised
me to go and ask some money from my parents. But my father scolded me. I
went back to him and he gave some money again and said if I were a soldier,
I would have a lot of money as well as an automatic gun. The next day, he
and I went to meet an army officer. Since then, I haven't seen him."
Another boy said, "I and my friend went to sign to join the army.
Afterwards, my parents came to the battalion office and requested to take
me back because I was under age and was attending school. An officer
replied that I would not be sent back unless 10,000 Kyats be given as a
bribe. I knew my parents could not afford it and I thought it was not so
bad being a soldier. After I attended training in Shan State I was sent to
Loi Kaw. One day, I lost the way from my column on patrol because I rested
too long. While I was having lunch in a village, my gun was taken and a
Karenni guerilla (later I learned he was an officer of Karenni army)
appeared and spoke to me. He requested that I join the Karenni army. I
liked his gun, an AK 47. It looked much better than my gun so I decided to
follow him. At the moment, we were told that my column was coming back to
find me so we ran away. On the way he showed me how to shoot the AK 47 and
gave that to me. He went in front of me with a bag full of papers and a
grenade in his hand. The column was quite close and I heard my name being
shouted. I decided not to go back to the battalion, which treated me badly.
We reached a base of Karenni and later the commander of the base asked me
if I wanted to study." Now he is attending a Karenni school. In reality
there are many deserters in the SLORC army. Some deserters explained that
if a soldier escapes from his unit, officers do not take out his name for a
year but go on taking his salary. In each battalion, there are about 50
deserters annually and an average of 40 new soldiers arrive in a year.
Young boys are recruited but there are problems because those children
soldiers ask for snacks in front lines and cry when they hear gunfire.
Situation of soldiers
Non-commissioned officers' (NCO) salaries vary from 600 Kyat to 1,500 Kyat,
which is not sufficient for a soldier even with issued rations. There are
schools and clinics in most of the battalions for soldiers' family members.
The SLORC creates projects to get more income for its army such as --
agriculture and farming projects, baking bricks, crushing stones, working
on roads and rail roads constructions and annexing profitable factories
(garment and cement factories). The army-owned rice fields, bean fields,
rubber plantations and sugar cane plantations can be seen everywhere.
Because of the lack of agricultural knowledge, local villagers are forced
to grow and maintain the plants. However, the profit is not shared among
NCOs and the villagers who take care of the plants. It is completely
controlled by commanders of battalions. A rubber plantation field owned by
the LIB. 205 near Thaton was sold to the drug lord Khun Sa in 1997, but
soldiers received nothing. Some battalions baked 1 million to 1.5 millions
of bricks annually and sold bricks to construction sites at 5 Kyats per
brick. Raw materials and work force are free but the profit is mostly for
high ranking officials. The LIB. 406 from Tenisserim division baked 1.2
million bricks a year and only distributed 100 Kyats a month to its
soldiers and the rest of the money is unaccounted for. After the
international condemnation of forced labor practice in Burma, the junta
changed to using soldiers instead of civilian labour on some of the
construction sites. Civilians received nothing for their work contribution
but soldiers on construction sites get two extra uniforms, extra rations
and receive money for their work. LIB. 402, 406 and other battalions, which
worked on the Ye-Tavoy railroad, were paid. The soldiers received 200 Kyats
for laying 100 cubic feet of stones and 140 Kyats for digging 100 cubic
feet of the earth.
In fact, most of the soldiers are starving. They joined the army not for
their creed. They do not trust the leaders, because the leaders never trust
them. There is always dissatisfaction and mistrust between the combat
troops and the intelligence. However, although, there is no mutiny yet, the
junta is aware of that possibility in the army.
A former sergeant who served over 10 years in the SLORC army, now working
in Thailand expressed, "The army is good, the problem is there is no good
person in the army."
*SLORC: State Law and Order Restoration Council -- changed name in
November, 1997 to the State Peace and Development Council. Although the
junta has changed this name trying to change the image, there is still no
improvement on peace and development. We still use SLORC in this article.
*LIB: Light Infantry Battalion
*KNU: Karen National Union
THE NATION: RANGOON TO TRY WESTERNER
12 May, 1998
Rangoon -- A Westerner will go on trial tomorrow in the Burmese capital
Rangoon, accused of entering the country illegally to distribute
James Rupert Russell Mawdsley, 24, who holds British and Australian
passports, appeared at a pre-trial hearing in Rangoon yesterday and calmly
heard a prosecuting official testify that he had entered the country
illegally in April.
Presiding judge U Than Htwe said a trial would begin tomorrow in the
northern district court near Insein jail in Rangoon. Mawdsley will be
charged with violating Burmese immigration laws.
THE NATION: BURMA OPTS FOR THAICOM-3
12 May, 1998
Burma is dumping Hong Kong's Asiasat-1 satellite for its local
communications system and replacing it with ThaiCom-3 from Shinawatra of
Thailand, the state-run New Light of Myanmar reported yesterday.
Four Shinawatra engineers are in Burma installing antennas and other
equipment necessary for the military government to lease transponder space
on ThaiCom-3 for government-run Myanmar Post and Telecommunications.
NEW YORK TIMES: ROAD TO RICHES STARTS IN GOLDEN TRIANGLE
11 May, 1998
By Christopher S. Wren
Rangoon, Burma -- Chauffeured about town in his gleaming white sedan, Lo
Hsing-han befits his reputation as one of the most influential businessmen
A crisp business card identifies him as chairman of Asia World Co. Ltd., a
conglomerate managed by his son, Steven Law. Their commercial empire
includes jade, ruby and teak concessions, real estate in Rangoon, its
renovated port facilities, a container-shipping business and toll booths on
the resurfaced Burma Road winding north to the Chinese border.
Lo has traveled far from his bare-knuckle origins as an opium warlord of
the Golden Triangle in the early 1960s, when U.S. drug officials linked him
to much of the heroin winding up on the streets of U.S. cities. He later
survived seven years in a Burmese prison under sentence of death for
treason, but after his release in 1980 he earned the government's gratitude
for brokering a critical cease-fire with ethnic insurgents in 1989.
Now, Lo says, there's more profit in selling cars across the Chinese border
than in smuggling drugs.
The United States views Lo's prosperity as evidence that Burma's economy is
awash in laundered drug money and that its military junta has encouraged
those who trade in drugs to invest in its development projects.
"Drug traffickers who once spent their days leading mule trains down jungle
paths are now leading lights in Burma's new market economy and leading
figures in its new political order," Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
told the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, knows as Asean, in Kuala
Lumpur, Malaysia, last July.
Proving Lo's complicity is more difficult. "There are no smoking guns, no
evidence linking him to any investigation whatsoever" at present, a Western
official who follows narcotics conceded. "We're going to keep him out there
as a target, because there's rampant speculation that he's involved in
moving large quantities of heroin."
At 64 years old, Lo has not lost the nerve that helped him thrive in the
opium trade. Told that several American reporters wanted to interview him,
Lo invited them to dinner. He denied any involvement now in trafficking or
"I welcome the whole world to investigate me," Lo said and promised $5,000
to anyone who could link him to drugs in the last 25 years.
Barely glancing at his diamond-studded gold Rolex wristwatch, Lo fielded
questions in Chinese while his chopsticks poked at a succession of
He reminisced about the late 1960s and early '70s when his opium-laden mule
caravans stretched several miles across the mountainsides and ravines of
Kokang, his ethnic Chinese home region in northeast Burma. What drove him,
he contends, was not greed but benevolent concern for Kokang's struggling
"I don't bother about eating, drinking or traveling," he said. "My whole
life has been spent just helping the poor."
Lo is hardly the only reputed drug trafficker to succeed in business in
Burma. Khun Sa, the world's biggest heroin producer, surrendered his rebel
Shan army in January 1996 and moved into a villa in a government military
compound in Rangoon.
The Burmese government refuses to extradite Khun Sa to the United States,
where he has been indicted for trying to smuggle 3,500 pounds of heroin
into New York. He has described himself as a real estate agent and his
investments are said to include a new resort casino and a bus route between
Rangoon and Mandalay. Until his health deteriorated, he also played golf
with the generals whose army he once bloodied.
Lo's drug career began when he commanded a home guard unit battling
Communist insurgents. The only way to equip and feed his troops, he said,
was through the opium trade. "In the Kokang mountains, people earned their
living from poppy for over 100 years," he said. "Over that period,
poppy-growing and trading was legal. It was the only income for people."
As he tells it, rival traffickers demanded commissions of 25 percent or 30
percent to take the opium for refining in Thailand. Lo undercut them by
charging 20 percent.
Twice a year from 1963 to 1973, Lo said, he moved 10 to 20 tons of opium to
the Thai border, using his own troops and 800 to 1,000 mules per convoy.
"It stretched out for three miles," Lo said. "If it went smoothly, it took
about 26 days."
Lo waved aside questions about how much he earned. "I was working for the
Kokang people and the poor people who were looking for a way to sell their
product," he said. "I did so much for them, and I felt it was honorable."
When the government ordered him to disband his troops, Lo refused. "The
Kokang people needed the opium market," he said. "I was their sole agent,
so the Kokang farmers got a reasonable price."
In 1973 he was lured across the Thai border, captured, extradited to
Rangoon and sentenced to death. "I didn't think any harm would come to me,"
he said. "The government didn't charge me with opium trafficking. They
charged me with treason and violating socialist economic law."
He served a month short of seven years in prison before being released in a
1980 amnesty. Lo opened a bakery in Rangoon, raised livestock in Lashio and
mined precious stones, using what he explained were family loans, not drug
In 1989, he persuaded Peng Jiasheng, another opium dealer who led Kokang's
rebel army, to accept a cease-fire with the military junta. The junta
rewarded Lo with choice gem and timber concessions.
Since then, Lo said, "I have done a lot of import-export business, and also
Chinese-border trade," delivering new cars from Rangoon to China's Yunnan
province. Lo described Asia World as "doing quite well" with an annual
profit somewhere "over $1 million." He declined to say how much more.
Lo said he does not need to traffic in drugs now. "Since the market economy
appeared in Burma, it is easier to earn money trading vehicles on the
Chinese border," he said. He estimated that he turns a profit of about
$2,500 on every car he sells to the Chinese.
Moreover, Lo said, he was shocked to discover so many addicts in his Kokang
homeland and wants to stamp out opium. "When a family has a drug addict,
the family is totally destroyed," he said. "I realized that drugs are not
Col. Kyaw Thein, the head of the government's drug control program, said of
Lo, "He's been out of the drug business since he was released from prison,
because he knows that every intelligence agency will be keeping their eyes
But a Western diplomat charged that the government let Lo launder his money
in legitimate businesses. "He has the connection with the banks," the
Lo was upset when his son Steven Law, who travels widely as Asia World's
managing director, was denied a visa to the United States in 1996 because
of suspected drug links.
"Steven is a genuine businessman," he said. "He doesn't know about drug
trafficking. He wasn't born when I was in Kokang." Another son, Henry,
lives in Los Angeles, but Lo said, "I can't remember the details."
Lo wants to see America himself. "If the United States is a democratic
country, why doesn't it allow me to enter?" Lo asked. "Have I committed any
DEPARTMENT OF STATE: SHATTUCK'S TESTIMONY TO HOUSE FOREIGN OPERATIONS
1 April, 1998
Text: Promotion of human rights key to U.S. foreign policy
Washington -- The promotion of human rights and democracy is one of the
fundamental goals of U.S. foreign policy, according to John Shattuck,
assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor.
The promotion of human rights and democracy is "a goal that reinforces the
objectives of preserving America's security and fostering U.S. prosperity.
As Secretary Albright has noted, the United States has a vital strategic
interest in strengthening the international system by bringing nations
together around the basic principles of democracy, open markets, and the
rule of law," Shattuck said in April 1 remarks before the House
Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations.
"The past decade has been a tumultuous one for human rights and democracy,"
Shattuck noted. "From the collapse of the Berlin Wall to the fall of the
Soviet Union, from the successful campaign for democracy in Chile to the
transition to multiracial democracy in South Africa, it has produced events
of wonder. Yet these successes must not blind us to the reality that the
world today faces fundamental challenges to the protection of human rights
>From Bosnia to Rwanda, from Kosovo to Algeria, the haunting images of
cruelty and violence remind us that the denial of basic human rights
continues to threaten international peace and stability."
Shattuck outlined four basic categories of nation states: one, those
countries that participate as full members of the international system;
two, those that reject the rules upon which the system is based; three,
those that are in transition from authoritarian rule and seek full
participation; and four, those "that are unable -- whether because of
under-development, catastrophe or conflict -- to enjoy the benefits and
meet the responsibilities that full membership entails."
"Most of our efforts to promote human rights and democracy focus on those
countries most likely to make the transition to full partnership in the
international system ," he said. "But we also are working to assist those
who seek to promote democratic progress and human rights in authoritarian
countries. In these cases, our focus is on supporting NGOs that seek to
facilitate a peaceful transition to democracy and legal institutions that
may one day create a foundation for the rule of law."
Cuba, Burma, and China are three countries in which the United States is
working with NGOs committed to improving civil and human rights, according
Shattuck stressed that facilitating the growth of democratic government,
civil society, and the rule of law is the best way to assure that countries
in transition become "full members of the international system prepared to
respect and uphold basic human rights."
"History demonstrates that free and democratic nations are better partners
both in terms of maintaining peace and conducting commerce. Democracies
that protect human rights and respect the rule of law are more likely to
avoid internal conflict, protect the environment, embrace market economics,
and provide a fair and level playing field for American companies. That is
why it is in our national interest to support those who struggle for
democracy abroad. We could not assure our own security and prosperity
without it," he said.
Following is the text of Shattuck's remarks, as prepared for delivery:
TESTIMONY OF THE HONORABLE JOHN SHATTUCK ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR
DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND LABOR BEFORE THE FOREIGN OPERATIONS
SUBCOMMITTEE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
APRIL 1, 1998
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I would like to thank you for
the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the work being done
by the State Department, and specifically by the Bureau of Democracy, Human
Rights and Labor, in promoting freedom around the world.
Four weeks ago, Secretary of State Albright came here to seek your support
for the President's FY 1999 international affairs budget. My role here
today is to expand upon one aspect of the Secretary's remarks by
highlighting the Administration's work to promote democracy and human
rights around the world, particularly through our foreign assistance
Mr. Chairman, the promotion of human rights and democracy is one of the
fundamental goals of our foreign policy, a goal that reinforces the
objectives of preserving America's security and fostering our prosperity.
As Secretary Albright has noted, the United States has a vital strategic
interest in strengthening the international system by bringing nations
together around the basic principles of democracy, open markets, and the
rule of law.
The past decade has been a tumultuous one for human rights and democracy.
>From the collapse of the Berlin Wall to the fall of the Soviet Union, from
the successful campaign for democracy in Chile to the transition to
multiracial democracy in South Africa, it has produced events of wonder.
Yet these successes must not blind us to the reality that the world today
faces fundamental challenges to the protection of human rights. From Bosnia
to Rwanda, from Kosovo to Algeria, the haunting images of cruelty and
violence remind us that the denial of basic human rights continues to
threaten international peace and stability.
Mr. Chairman, in determining how we respond to these challenges, we must
acknowledge the changes that have taken place in the international system
since the end of the Cold War. The old conceptual framework of three
"Worlds" -- West, East and South -- no longer works. Instead, as Secretary
Albright has stated, it is now possible to identify four categories of
nation states. The first is made up of those countries that participate as
full members of the international system. The second consists of those that
reject the rules upon which the system is based. The third contains those
that are in transition from authoritarian rule and seek full participation.
The fourth includes those that are unable -- whether because of
under-development, catastrophe or conflict -- to enjoy the benefits and
meet the responsibilities that full membership entails.
In the first category are the world's democracies, our partners and
friends. In the second category are the world's pariah states, the focus of
sanctions and other negative measures designed to limit their ability to
disrupt the international system. In categories three and four are
countries in transition that could become either partners or pariahs. Their
future path will determine whether Americans will live in a world that is
peaceful, prosperous and free. As such, they are the focus of our
The best way to assure that these countries become full members of the
international system prepared to respect and uphold basic human rights is
to facilitate the growth of democratic government, civil society, and the
rule of law. History demonstrates that free and democratic nations are
better partners both in terms of maintaining peace and conducting commerce.
Democracies that protect human rights and respect the rule of law are more
likely to avoid internal conflict, protect the environment, embrace market
economics, and provide a fair and level playing field for American
companies. That is why it is in our national interest to support those who
struggle for democracy abroad. We could not assure our own security and
prosperity without it.
In the recent past, Mr. Chairman, the Executive Branch has not programmed
funding designed exclusively to protect human rights and promote democracy.
When the United States had to respond to human rights and democratization
crises around the world, this shortcoming often resulted in an urgent,
ad-hoc reprogramming of funds. The Secretary of State should have the
capacity to respond flexibly to assist countries emerging from
underdevelopment, catastrophe, or conflict, and should supply support to
those countries in transition from authoritarian rule to democracy.
To that end, the Administration has designed a series of mechanisms that
combine policy formulation with innovative funding programs that assist the
development of democracies and expedite their transition to full membership
in the international system. I will devote the balance of my testimony to
examining the policy and program components of our work, and then provide
you with specific examples of how these new initiatives have allowed us to
respond rapidly and creatively to a variety of human rights and
democratization concerns and crises.
Within the Department of State, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and
Labor takes the lead in formulating and coordinating U.S. policy on
democracy and human rights promotion. Our tools include the Human Rights
and Democracy Core Group, the G-8 Democracy Initiative, and the Advisory
Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad.
Established in 1996, the Human Rights and Democracy Core Group is a small,
high-level, inter-agency council that meets to develop guidance for the
Secretary on human rights and democracy-building policy and programs in
crisis countries, particularly those emerging from conflict. As Co-Chair of
the Core Group, my bureau sets the agenda, but other members may bring
issues to the table and set out options to focus Core Group deliberations.
The Core Group includes representatives of foreign affairs government
agencies and State Department bureaus with global mandates. Relevant State
Department regional bureaus are included as Co-Chairs for particular
The Human Rights and Democracy Core Group analyzes developing situations
and proposes programs that are short-term and high-impact. Thus, its
approach complements USAID's sustainable development programs, which
operate over the medium- and long-term. Among the issues on which the group
has deliberated over the past year are post-election U.S. policy and
assistance in Albania; U.S. policy and programs in Cambodia; support for
democracy and human rights institutions in Bosnia; support for new justice
and reconciliation initiatives in the Great Lakes region of Africa; and
transition assistance to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma, and Nigeria. I will discuss some
of the specific programs initiated or overseen by the Core Group later in
While the Core Group coordinates policy among different actors and agencies
within the U.S. government, the Denver Summit Democracy Initiative seeks to
coordinate democracy- and human rights-promotion assistance among the Group
of Eight. Last fall, I chaired an experts meeting in Washington that
developed information on how each of the G-8 governments promotes
democracy, both bilaterally and multilaterally. The meeting identified
areas of common interest in our individual and collective efforts, and made
recommendations on how G-8 governments could better coordinate their
efforts. Four areas of emphasis were targeted: assistance for civil society
development; support for women's political participation; business and
labor support for human rights and democracy; and promotion of good
governance and the rule of law. I am submitting for the record the G-8
report , a summary of which will be incorporated into the Birmingham Summit.
In addition to these recommendations, the experts group also made plans to
hold an unprecedented multilateral workshop -style conference on democracy
and governance assistance in Africa that will be co-sponsored by the United
States, the United Kingdom, France, and the Global Coalition for Africa.
Scheduled to take place next month in Bamako, Mali, the workshop will be
patterned on the "partnership" theme of President Clinton's Africa trip,
and will bring together donor and recipient partnership governments, NGOs,
and multilateral donor organizations to discuss the development of a new
model of partnership for democratic development. The conference, which will
he chaired by Mali's President Konare, is being organized in cooperation
with the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Economic Commission for Africa, and
the United Nations Development Program. Participating "pilot" countries
include Benin, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, and Uganda.
The results of the workshop are potentially far-reaching. At stake is
whether donor and recipient countries can reach broad agreement on the
process as well as the substance of democracy and governance assistance. In
addition, the workshop will offer NGOs in developing democracies an
unprecedented opportunity to influence development policy and inform
decisions at international fora such as the upcoming Birmingham G-8 Summit
and the OECD.
The present challenge for the U.S. is to ensure that the G-8 sustains the
momentum of the Washington experts meeting and the Bamako workshop.
Specifically, it is important that we further develop our initial
agreements and then devise an action plan to implement them. To that end,
we are working toward committing the G-8 at the upcoming Birmingham Summit
to act on the recommendations made by the experts in Washington and the
participants in Bamako.
In addition to these broader policy initiatives, the Administration also
has undertaken new measures designed to integrate specific human rights and
democratization concerns into our foreign policy. For example, the
Administration has publicly affirmed its commitment to advance religious
freedom abroad. It is a subject of our bilateral and multilateral policy
and dialogues . Secretary Albright has instructed our embassies around the
world to pay special attention to religious persecution. Last year, the
State Department prepared an unprecedented report in response to a request
by your committee that focused exclusively on global religious persecution.
It was entitled, " U.S. Policies in Support of Religious Freedom: Focus on
In December 1996, the Secretary of State established the Advisory Committee
on Religious Freedom Abroad, a distinguished panel of twenty religious
leaders who represent millions of Americans of all major faiths and
denominations, and scholars who have dedicated their professional lives to
the study of religious liberty and other human rights. The Committee, which
I chair and for which my staff provides the support, is responsible for
advising the Secretary of State and the President on the ways and means of
integrating the protection and promotion of religious freedom abroad into
our foreign policy. In its first fourteen months, the Committee has heard
the testimony of experts, government officials and victims of religious
persecution. Committee members have discussed concerns, presented diverse
viewpoints, and learned much from one another .
In January, the Committee released its interim Report and Recommendations,
a copy of which I am submitting for the record. This report is of great
significance. It supports the expansion of our work as a government in
promoting and defending religious freedom and provides specific
recommendations for additional government action. It represents the
consensus of a wide array of religious groups from American society on how
best to promote religious freedom. As we go forward in formulating
strategies to address the many foreign policy and human rights challenges
involving religious freedom, the Committee's report and its forthcoming
work will assist us in understanding the religious dimension of these
problems and in engaging religious communities and leaders to address them.
The Committee's report made a wide variety of practical recommendations on
U.S. policy. Among these is the recommendation to establish a senior
position in the Department of State to coordinate, integrate and implement
policies that advance religious freedom internationally. I am pleased to
say that Secretary Albright has requested the immediate implementation of
this recommendation. We anticipate being able to announce her choice in the
very near future. In the meantime, the Committee is continuing its work,
with the assistance of my staff with the purpose of offering more detailed
recommendations at the end of the year. Their focus this year is on
integration of religious freedom concerns into U.S. assistance and training
programs; the use of specific foreign policy tools to promote religious
freedom; refugee and asylum procedures; and dialogue with religious NGOs,
businesses and other communities.
In addition to these policy coordination mechanisms, the Department of
State intends to work within the U.S. Government and with NGOs to help
better coordinate U.S. policies that guide a wide range of rule of law
programs in democratizing countries. Such programs include training judges,
prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and defense attorneys; developing
law school curricula; providing technical assistance to efforts to revise
commercial laws and combat corruption; and helping NGOs and the media make
better use of the legal system to protect and promote human rights. These
measures have a direct impact on a wide variety of U.S. foreign policy
interests. For example, programs that promote greater transparency in
government decision-making can help forestall regional economic crises.
Rule of law programs are a major component of almost every one of our
democracy-building efforts. A range of U.S. agencies and State Department
bureaus, as well as a number of NGOs, play an active role in developing and
implementing these programs. Coordinating these efforts is a priority for
Secretary Albright. Closer inter-agency coordination on rule of law
programs would more closely tie together our diplomacy to our use of
foreign assistance in promoting democracy around the world.
Mr. Chairman, in addition to designing and implementing mechanisms to
coordinate U.S. democracy and human rights policy within the Department,
between agencies, and among our allies, my bureau also is responsible for
oversight of specific programs designed to promote democracy and, when
necessary, to respond rapidly to democratization and human rights crises.
These efforts often evolve from recommendations by policy mechanisms such
as the Human Rights and Democracy Core Group. Many are in countries where
USAID does not have a resident mission and where specific, targeted
assistance can have an immediate human rights impact. Others are directed
at human rights crisis situations where my bureau can act quickly and
flexibly. USAID and the State Department regional bureaus are integral
parts of the process by which these high-impact democracy and human rights
programs are allocated.
My bureau, together with the Department of State regional bureaus and
USAID, exercises oversight over that portion of Economic Support Funds
(ESF) devoted to building democracy and promoting human rights. Funds are
administered in one of three ways; 1) through the management of the new
Human Rights and Democracy Fund; 2) through the co -management with the
regional bureaus of Regional Democracy Funds; and 3) through the
administration of specific projects within these regional funds.
Established in FY 1998, the Human Rights and Democracy Fund (HRDF) is in
many ways the programmatic complement to the Core Group's policy focus. As
a funding instrument, the HRDF enables the U.S. to respond to human rights
or democratization crises, and is used primarily when no other appropriate
sources are available. By responding rapidly and decisively to emergencies
as they develop, the fund enables the United States to minimize human
rights abuses. For example, deploying teams of human rights monitors into
an area where abuses are occurring can help deter further atrocities and
gather reliable information upon which to base further action.
Funding is considered on a case-by-case basis. I review program proposals
put forth by an intra-bureau program committee and consult with other
relevant bureaus and agencies. Congress is notified of allocation decisions
in those cases when specific programs have not been included in the
Congressional Presentation Document.
In FY 1998, the Administration requested $8 million for the Human Rights
and Democracy Fund. In FY 1999, we have requested $9 million.
In addition to the HRDF, my bureau oversees the administration of a series
of Regional Democracy Funds that provide elections-related assistance;
encourage criminal justice reform and judicial training; support the
establishment of truth commissions and other national reconciliation
efforts; and promote the development of civil society, especially
independent media institutions, the growth of human rights organizations,
and women's political participation. Whereas the Human Rights and Democracy
Fund focuses primarily on countries emerging from catastrophe or conflict,
the Regional Democracy Funds tend to focus more on countries in transition
to democracy. Another important difference is that the Regional Democracy
Funds are designed to respond flexibly to ongoing policy developments,
while the Human Rights and Democracy Fund addresses immediate or emerging
issues. The Regional Democracy Funds thus are able to provide more
intensive and in-depth non-emergency technical assistance, whereas the
Human Rights and Democracy fund is better suited to respond to crises in
regions where Regional Funds may be limited.
An interagency group, chaired by my bureau, and including the regional
bureaus and the USAID Democracy Center, manages regional democracy finds in
the Middle East, Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, South Asia, and Latin
America and the Caribbean. In consultation and cooperation with USAID we
recommend projects based on proposals submitted by our embassies, our
Washington offices, or U.S. democracy-promotion NGOs. The Assistant
Secretaries of the regional bureaus and I then jointly make final
recommendations to the Under Secretary for Security Affairs.
Most of these projects are implemented through agreements with U.S. NGOs
undertaken by USAID's Center for Democracy and Governance and its field
missions, or through memoranda of agreement with the Department of Justice
for training and technical assistance In the event that no other U.S.
agency is able or willing to carry out a particular agreement, my bureau's
Program Office has the ability to work directly with U.S. NGOs. Our
partners in the regional finds currently include the National Endowment for
Democracy and its four institutes; the International Foundation for
Electoral Systems; Yale University; and the Asia Foundation.
For FY 1999, we are requesting a total of $39.75 million for the Regional
Democracy Funds: $4 million for the Middle East, $15 million for Africa, $5
million for East Asia and the Pacific, $2.75 million for South Asia, and
$13 million for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Translating Policy and Programs into targeted Assistance
Mr. Chairman, I now would like to offer some examples of how we have
translated these policy and funding mechanisms into assistance to those
countries emerging from catastrophe and conflict as well as to those in
transition from authoritarian rule. These states often require our help to
facilitate or consolidate fragile democratic processes, sometimes on an
[BurmaNet Editor's Note: this section has been modified due to space
concerns. Several of the examples from the original text have been left
out. Please contact me if you like a full copy of the article.]
The Bureau also administers a grant ($1 million in FY 1997) to the Yale
Cambodia Genocide Program, which was initiated in 1994 through an Act of
Congress. The program assembles evidence concerning the leadership of the
Khmer Rouge and provides documentation of genocide, war crimes, and crimes
against humanity. It has established a Documentation Center in Cambodia,
which conducts research and provides the public with a record of the
horrors of the Pol Pot Regime. Although the events of last July were a
major setback to the international effort to promote a stable and
democratic Cambodia, programs such as this will help Cambodians continue
their struggle to overcome the catastrophic results of Khmer Rouge rule.
The Regional Democracy Funds also are intended to provide issue -specific
assistance for activities in several countries in a given region . In FY
1997, for example, my bureau directed $500,000 to the Asia Foundation for a
program that helps women in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Mongolia, the
Pacific Islands, the Philippines, and Thailand challenge economic, social,
and political discrimination. Working with women activists, women's NGOs,
human rights groups and the media, the program supports the training of
women to conduct public education campaigns on women's rights; the design
of country-specific action plans targeted toward the removal of
discriminatory laws and policies; and the holding of regional conferences
to share successful strategies. In addition, the program supported the work
of local groups and activists to combat violence against women.
My Bureau also is funding the development of an ASEAN human rights network
($500,000 in FY 1997). This program will assist the efforts of the ASEAN
Human Rights Working Group to develop more formal and regularized
mechanisms for human rights cooperation in the region. It also supports
efforts to develop effective national human rights organizations and
strengthen existing human rights NGOs in ASEAN member-states as part of an
overall strategy to increase the attention of ASEAN governments to human
Assistance to Those Opposing Authoritarian Rule
Mr. Chairman, most of our efforts to promote human rights and democracy
focus on those countries most likely to make the transition to full
partnership in the international system . But we also are working to assist
those who seek to promote democratic progress and human rights in
authoritarian countries. In these cases, our focus is on supporting NGOs
that seek to facilitate a peaceful transition to democracy and legal
institutions that may one day create a foundation for the rule of law.
In Burma, my bureau directly administers Economic Support Funds ($2.5
million in FY 1997 and $5 million in FY 1998) that are divided between
democracy-building assistance through a grant to the National Endowment for
Democracy and humanitarian assistance through the International Rescue
Committee and World Concern Development Organization. Supported activities
include pro-democracy work by such organizations as the Free Trade Union of
Burma; efforts by the National Coalition for Democracy to focus
international concern on Burma; the publication of pro-democracy journals;
and the broadcast of independent voices via radio.
Mr. Chairman, my testimony today has focused on the variety of policy and
funding mechanisms that my bureau has developed in order to enable the
United States to respond quickly to a variety of humanitarian, human rights
and democratization problems and crises. But it would be a mistake to
conclude without reviewing briefly my bureau's other, equally important
activities, about which I have recently testified before the House
International Relations Committee.
The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor has as one of its primary
missions the spotlighting of human rights abuses in all countries of the
world. It does so primarily through the preparation and release of the
annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. We disseminate these
Reports in 193 countries to governments, media and citizens. We express our
positions vigorously and publicly . Almost daily, the Department speaks out
on human rights. Speaking truth to power is always an important weapon
against oppression and injustice .
But it is only one weapon. Our arsenal for promoting human rights
objectives is an increasingly broad one. We employ it actively. It includes
both traditional diplomacy and a range of new approaches that we continue
to expand and develop.
We support INS Asylum Officers and Immigration Judges by providing them
with expert advice on human rights conditions and recent political
developments overseas. For the past year we have placed our emphasis on
improving the quality of this information, particularly by strengthening
our "Profiles of Asylum Claims and Country Conditions Reports" and by
paying increased attention to issues of religious persecution. In the
coming year, we plan, for the first time, to create a full-time permanent
staff that will have responsibility for both commenting on asylum
applications and preparing the annual Country Reports on Human Rights
Practices. We believe having the same professional staff work year-round on
issues of persecution and mistreatment will strengthen both our advice to
asylum adjudicators and our annual Reports.
We support the efforts of free trade unions around the world to become more
effective defenders of worker and human rights. Free trade unions played a
critical role in promoting and defending democracy in the Cold War era.
They play an equally important role today by working to eliminate child
labor and bring about more equitable distribution of economic benefits. In
line with the administration's Model Business Principles, my bureau
supports the joint efforts of union and employer groups to promote the
adoption of corporate codes of conduct that strengthen democratic values in
We work closely with non-governmental organizations to promote core human
rights principles, including religious freedom and women's rights. During
my tenure, I have facilitated broad and regular communication between the
human rights community and the Department of State. The Advisory Committee
on Religious Freedom Abroad is only one example of that effort.
Through bilateral measures, we address democracy and human rights concerns
in all our relationships. In addition to assistance programs and diplomatic
engagement, we employ a wide variety of other measures, including sanctions
and restrictions on international financing, arms sales and visas. The
President, the First Lady, the Vice President, and the Secretary of State
all repeatedly raise specific human rights cases and our work to promote
democracy in their meetings with foreign leaders . For example, President
Clinton has raised human rights and democratization concerns at every stop
during his trip to Africa, emphasizing particularly his commitment to
strengthen international efforts to prevent genocide. Secretary Albright's
deep personal commitment to these issues makes her a particularly forceful
and effective advocate. She has instructed our ambassadors on dozens of
occasions to raise specific human rights issues with their host governments.
Finally, we work closely with Congress to coordinate our efforts and
develop a consensus on the best means and direction for United States
policy in the field of human rights, democracy and labor. I would like to
offer my thanks to the Members of Congress and in particular to the Members
of this Committee for their strong support of our efforts to promote and
protect human rights and democracy around the world. Your support has been
bipartisan and bicameral, and we have worked together to address the
challenges of the post-Cold War world. Our goal is to expand the community
of democratic nations so that the world will be better-equipped to confront
the dangers and challenges of under development, conflict, catastrophe, or