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Escalation of human rights violatio


11th May, 1998

Dear Colleagues,

The past months have been witness to an escalation of human rights
violations in the Asean region notably; the conferring of death sentences
to political prisoners in Burma; disappearances and other human rights
violations in Indonesia; and threats against migrant workers in Malaysia
and Thailand.

Please send letters of appeal/protest to the governments and media
expressing grave concern on these cases and organize pickets/delegations to
the embassies.

SPDC Confers Death Penalty on Former Student Activists in Burma

Ko Htein, age 44
Naing Aung, age 31
Thant Zaw Swe, age 31
U Sanda Thiri (aka) Myint Han, age 44
Khin Hlaing, age 44
Let Yar Htun, age 29

The above-named men are the first-known political prisoners to have
received the death penalty in several years. There are grave concerns that
these sentences set an ominous precedent. 

According to a State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), Burma?s new-look
military dictatorship,  four of the six men are members of the All Burma
Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF) caught inside the country with
explosives for sabotage activities and the other two were recruited from
within Burma. 

The six men are among a group of 39 people arrested in connection with the
alleged anti-government "plot". Myint Han is believed to be a Buddhist monk
known as U Sandar Thiri and a member of the Young Monks Association. Let
Yar Htun, imprisoned from 1991 to 1995, Naing Aung and Than Zaw Swe are
ABSDF members. Khin Hlaing is a former teacher and NLD member who was
imprisoned in 1991 for allegedly having contact with the ABSDF. All are
believed to have been arrested in January. 

Recommended action:

1.  Ask the SPDC to commute these death sentences.
2.  Seek assurances that these six men will not be executed.
3.  Call on the SPDC to abolish the death penalty.

The Recent Escalation of Human Rights Violations in Indonesia

Protests against the declining economic and political situation in
Indonesia has been gaining momentum in the past three months. Increased
reports of arrest and detention, abduction and torture of political
dissidents have been received. Recently, seven people were killed during

A case in point is that of  Pius Lustrilanang, a supporter of opposition
figure, Megawati, who was kidnapped and severely tortured, allegedly by the
Indonesian military. He surfaced in April in a press conference where he
related his account - a tale of electric shocks, sleep deprivation and
water torture, after which he flew to Amsterdam for rehabilitation.  Pius
was an active participant in the Alternative Asean Network on Burma and had
close contact with the secretariat and Burmese dissidents during 1997.

Recommendation action:

1.  For the Indonesia government to stop the killings and stop the practice
of involuntary disappearances.
2.  To release all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
3.  To heed the demands of the people for needed political and economic

Threats on migrant workers in Malaysia and Thailand

More than 500 men from the province of Acheh-Sumatra, Indonesia were
deported by the Malaysian government. These men are believed to be genuine
asylum seekers from Acheh seeking refuge in Malaysia from prosecution in
their home province.  The Achehnese in Malaysia received asylum several
years ago after the United
Nations certified them as refugees. However, they have been detained by the
Malaysian government and denied access to the Kuala Lumpur office of the UN
High Commissioner for Refugees.

Riots which ensued the deportation exercise had resulted in at least the
death of 8 Achehnese.  An Indonesian independence activist puts the number
at 24 deaths. Several other immigrants were injured due to gunshot wounds.

In Thailand,  the repatriation of illegal migrant workers, mostly from
Burma, have been stepped up. The Chuan Leekpai administration has a policy
to repatriate about 300,000 foreign workers this year, mostly from
neighboring Burma.  A total of 191,050 foreign workers including 33,495
from the service sector, 8,399 from the transport sector, 20,506 from the
commercial sector, 19,995 from the garment industry, 46,773 from the food
industry, 8,983 from heavy industry, 4,914 from the chemical industry,
10,539 from the wood-related industry, and 2,326 from the paper and
printing industry have already been deported. There have been reports of
grave human rights abuses in the round-up, arrest, and deportation process
that has seen women raped and sexually abused, and young men beaten and

Under an April 28 cabinet resolution, Burmese, Cambodian and Laotian
workers have been allowed to continue working in 13 border provinces but
cannot stay overnight in Thailand.  These people can also seek Thai
authorities' permission to work for the fisheries industry and other
related industries in 22 provinces for another year. The Thai governments
repatriation policy, however defined at the top level, does not work
because of an absence of transparent and accountable deportation processes.
A new, comprehensive policy must be sought, as well as the full
co-operation of the immigration and labor departments.

Recommended action:

1.  The Malaysian government should establish a proper mechanism to
document incoming Indonesians as economic refugees.
2.  The Malaysian government should hold bilateral talks with the
Indonesian government and the embassy in Kuala Lumpur to temporarily settle
these economic refugees. Shelters and decent accommodation facilities need
to be set up.
3.  The Malaysian government should immediately start negotiations and
enrol the assistnace of international relief agencies such as the UNHCR,
International Committee of the Red Cross, etc.
4.  Request the Thai government to seek the co-operation of the
international community in formulating a comprehensive, just and fair
process of repatriation.
5.  Demand that the Royal Thai police Department and the Immigration
Department train officers in human arrest, detention and deportation
processes, and that the government establish a mechanism to handle
complaints of human rights abuses for migrant workers returning to their
country of origin.

Altsean-Burma Secretariat

A L T S E A N - B U R M A
Alternative Asean Network on Burma
Tel/Fax: 66 2 693 4515 * <altsean@xxxxxxxxxx>