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C.  Death in custody

27. The Special Rapporteur continues to receive reports
indicating that torture and ill-treatment, including beatings,
in prisons and interrogation centres continue to be a common
practice. In addition, sanitary conditions are critical, and
there is a lack of medical attention. Moreover, the
authorities continue to refuse the International Committee of
the Red cross (ICRC) access to prisons and places of
detention. In these circumstances, the Special Rapporteur is
not surprised to continue to receive information to the effect
that several prisoners have died in prison, including several
members or sympathizers of the NLD. 

28. Since June 1996, several NLD members or sympathizers have
died in jail as a result of torture and poor treatment.

29. In his report to the General Assembly (A/51/466, para.
77), the Special Rapporteur reported on the death in custody
on 22 June 1996 of Mr. James Leander Nichols, who had been
arrested in April 1996 for illegal possession of
communications equipment (telephones and fax machines) and
sentenced to three years imprisonment on 18 May 1996. He had
allegedly been deprived of sleep during long interrogations
prior to his death. Mr. Nichols was 65 years old and suffered
from heart problems and diabetes. The Myanmar authorities, in
a press statement issued on 16 July 1996, denied that he was
tortured and stated that he died from natural causes, due to a
stroke and a heart attack. However, the Special Rapporteur has
recently received additional information from a former
detainee who, in May 1996, was serving the final year of
a seven-year prison sentence in Insein Prison in a cell close
to the one where Mr. James Leander Nichols spent his last
days. According to that prisoner, Mr. Nichols had been
interrogated by officers for six consecutive days. Upon his
arrival, he was reportedly forced to sit in a Poun-San
position   i.e., to sit cross-legged on the floor with his
hands on his knees, back straight and head bowed. During
interrogation sessions he is said to have been forced to stand
up for hours. Each time, he is said to have been taken away by
officers with a hood over his head. Once he reportedly came
back to his cell at Insein Prison with swollen legs and a
puffed face after having been subjected to four days of
interrogation. Despite the fact that he was suffering form
acute dysentery and diabetes, he was allegedly not given
either proper food or medicines. His health is believed to
have quickly deteriorated. The last time he was reportedly
seen by fellow inmates before being taken away by officers, he
had swollen legs, could not walk properly, and was suffering
from dysentery, vomiting and dizziness. It is not clear
whether an autopsy was performed. To date, authorities are
thought not to have satisfactorily provided a full, written
account of events leading up and surrounding his demise.
Clearly, a full enquiry by an independent body is called for
in light of the new evidence.

30. It is also reported that U Thein Tin, a member of the
Yangon Township Organizing Committee of the NLD, died at
Yangon General Hospital on 18 February 1998, following
physical and mental torture in Insein Prison. U Thein Tin had
been detained in Insein Prison since March 1996. He was
charged under section 10(a) of the 1975 State Protection Law,
which is designed to protect the country from the dangers of
those who wish to harm it. A writer by profession, U Thein Tin
was a former student leader during 1962 1963. He came to
prominence during Daw San Suu Kyi's house-arrest for his
unwavering commitment and management skills. He was well
respected by both the leadership of the NLD and the youth wing
of the party. The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC)
claims that U Thein Tin died of blood cancer, according to a
statement. However, other sources said that U Thein Tin had
been tortured and his health had been deteriorating when he
was finally admitted to hospital. He was already dying when he
was taken to hospital, according to those sources, and the
SPDC had long refused his requests for proper medical care. A
Myanmar governmental spokesman confirmed that Thein Tin had
died but denied that he had been poorly treated. He said Thein
Tin had even been given a pardon three days before his death
and released from his prison sentence because he had liver
cancer. Medically, Thein Tin had been suffering from liver
cirrhosis since 1982 and while he was serving his sentence on
3 December 1997, the prison medical authorities had
transferred him to the Yangon hospital, according to the
spokesman. He also said that Thein Tin's family had been
allowed to pay him regular visits while he was in hospital.

31. Aung Kyaw Moe, 29 years old, a former student of Yangon
Institute of Technology, who had been sentenced to 14 years
imprisonment for his involvement in a December 1996 student
demonstration, died in the prison hospital on 23 May 1998
after being beaten by prison authorities, following a hunger
strike by political prisoners at the Thayawaddy Prison, 200
kilometres north of Yangon. On 22 May, political prisoners in
Thayawaddy Prison staged a hunger strike to mark the eighth
anniversary of the 1990 elections, in which the National
League for Democracy (NLD) had won a landslide victory. The
political prisoners made two demands: that the ruling State
Peace and Development Council (SPDC) treat them as political
prisoners, and that it enter into a dialogue with the NLD to
solve the country's problems peacefully. However, the
authorities, under instructions from the SPDC's Ministry of
Home Affairs, rejected their demands and warned the prisoners
to stop their hunger strike immediately. When they refused to
do so, eight political prisoners were beaten and seriously
injured. Afterwards, the family members of all the political
prisoners at Thayawaddy Prison were forbidden to visit in an
attempt by the authorities to prevent information about the
incident from spreading.

32. The following two cases illustrate the severe physical
and mental suffering reported to have been inflicted by prison
officials to two former detainees:

    (a)   Thar Nyunt Oo, a leader of the student movement, was
arrested in September 1990 and sentenced by the Special
Military Court to five years imprisonment. He was detained at
Insein Prison from September 1990 until November 1991. He was
reportedly interrogated during the first two weeks, during
which time he was confined to a small cell under continuous
strong light, the intensity of which would be increased if he
refused to answer a question. According to the information
received, he was deprived of sleep for 60 or 70 hours at a
time, beaten and kicked, and made to stand on his toes for
hours at a time; meanwhile, his legs were kept in irons with
manacles around his ankles and an iron bar between his legs.
In 1991 Thar Nyunt Oo and other prisoners who had gone on
strike were said to have been placed in solitary confinement
and kept in leg irons. They were allegedly forced to stand
with their upper bodies bent forward for up to thirty hours.
They were reportedly prohibited from bathing for one month and
were forced to cry and make admissions of guilt. Thar Nyunt Oo
was transferred to Thayet Prison in November 1991 and then to
Monywa Prison in December 1992. He was finally released in
November 1994 and resumed his political activities. He was
forced to flee to the border in December 1996;

    (b)   Aung Khaing, a graduate of Yangon Institute of
Technology and resident of Prone Township, was arrested in
November 1990 for his role in the pro-democracy movement and
sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. His sentence was commuted
to 10 years shortly after General Than Shwe was installed in
1992 as head of the State Law and Order Restoration Council
(SLORC). Aung Khaing was released from prison in June 1998.
During his eight years of detention in Insein Prison and
Taungoo Prison in Pegu Division, Aung Khaing was reportedly
subjected to severe beatings by prison warders, and as a
result he developed psychological problems. Despite several
requests from his family, the prison authorities refused to
provide him with proper medical assistance; but instead, he
was put in a solitary confinement cell that was designated for
leper prisoners until his release in June 1998.

                        IV.  Forced labour

33. The Special Rapporteur continues to receive numerous
substantiated reports from a wide variety of sources
indicating that the practice of forced labour remains
widespread. The phenomenon of forced recruitment of civilians
for the purpose of portering is reportedly still practised.
Conditions for porters are described as brutal, with forced
marches over mountains with heavy loads.  

34. Since 1955, Myanmar has been a party to ILO Convention No.
29 concerning forced labour. Amendment or repeal of national
legislation providing for the exaction of labour and services,
under the threat of penalty, from residents who have not
offered themselves voluntarily, has been called for by the ILO
Committee of Experts for the Application of Conventions and
Recommendations in comments regularly addressed to the
Government since 1964.

35. Following the lodging of a representation in January
1993 by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions,
the ILO Governing Body urged the Government of Myanmar, in
November 1994, to ensure that the relevant legislation, in
particular, the Village Act and the Towns Act, would be
brought into line with Convention No. 29, as had already been
requested by the Committee of Experts, to ensure that the
formal repeal of the power to impose compulsory labour be
followed up in practice and to ensure that those resorting to
coercion in the recruitment of labour be punished. 

36. At the International Labour Conference in June 1996,
the Committee on the Application of Standards noted the
persistent failure of Myanmar to implement the Convention.
The complainants alleged that the Government of Myanmar had
demonstrated its unwillingness to act upon the repeated calls
addressed to it by the supervisory bodies of the ILO to
abolish forced labour in law and in practice and that,
instead, the practice of forced labour was becoming more
widespread and that the authorities in Myanmar were directly
responsible for its increasing use.  

37. At its two hundred sixty-eighth session, in March
1997, the ILO Governing Body decided to refer the complaint to
a Commission of Inquiry chaired by Sir William Douglas
(Barbados). The Commission's mandate was to consider whether,
and to what extent, the alleged violations existed or had
existed and to make any recommendations it deemed appropriate. 

38. The Commission held its first meeting in June 1997
to establish its rules of procedure; it held formal hearings
of witnesses in November 1997 in Geneva. In the course of its
inquiry, during hearings in Geneva and during its visit to the
region, the Commission received over 6,000 pages of documents
and heard testimony given by representatives of a number of
non-governmental organizations and by some 250 eyewitnesses
with recent experience of forced labour practices.

39. The Government of Myanmar, which had been invited to take
part in the proceedings, abstained from attending the hearings
and did not authorize a visit by the Commission of Inquiry to
Myanmar, arguing that such a visit would not contribute much
towards resolving the case and would interfere in the internal
affairs of the country. 

40. The Myanmar authorities stated, in response to the initial
complaint and supplementary evidence, that they were aware of
the criticisms made by some worker delegates relating to use
of forced labour in Myanmar and that a considerable portion of
the criticisms relating to Myanmar were unfortunately based on
biased and specious allegations made by expatriates living
outside Myanmar who wished to denigrate the Myanmar
authorities for their own ends.

41. According to the report issued by the Commission of
Inquiry on 20 August 1998, the obligation to suppress the
use of forced or compulsory labour was violated in Myanmar in
national law as well as in actual practice in a widespread and
systematic manner, with total disregard for the human dignity,
safety and health and basic needs of the people. The
Commission concluded that the impunity with which governmental
officials, in particular, the military, treated the civilian
population as an unlimited pool of unpaid forced labourers and
servants at their disposal was part of a political system
built on the use of force and intimidation to deny the people
of Myanmar democracy and the rule of law. The Commission also
concluded that any person who violated the prohibition of
recourse to forced labour in international law bore an
individual criminal responsibility.

42. The Commission's report relates "a saga" of untold misery
and suffering, oppression and exploitation of large sections
of the population inhabiting Myanmar by the Government, the
military and other public officers. It is a story of gross
denial of human rights to which the people of Myanmar have
been subjected, particularly since 1988, and from which they
find no escape except fleeing the country.

43. In its conclusions on the substance of the case, the
Commission stated that there was abundant evidence before it
of the pervasive use of forced labour imposed on the civilian
population throughout Myanmar by the authorities and the
military for portering; the construction, maintenance and
servicing of military camps; the construction and maintenance
of roads, railways and bridges; other infrastructure work;
other work in support of the military; and work in
agriculture, logging and other projects undertaken by the
authorities or the military, sometimes for the profit of
private individuals. 

44. The Commission also stated that in actual practice, the
manifold exactions of forced labour often gave rise to the
extortion of money in exchange for a temporary alleviation of
the burden but also to threats to the life and security and
extrajudicial punishment of those unwilling, slow or unable to
comply with a demand for forced labour. Such punishment or
reprisals ranged from demands for money to physical abuse,
beatings, torture, rape and murder.

45. Forced labour in Myanmar was widely performed by women,
children and elderly persons, according to the Commission's
conclusions, and by other persons otherwise unfit for work,
and was almost never remunerated. 

46. Porters, including women, were often sent ahead in
particularly dangerous locations, such as in suspected
minefields, and many were killed or injured that way, the
Commission stated. Porters were rarely given medical treatment
of any kind, and some of the sick or injured were left behind
in the jungle. 

47.  Similarly, on road-building projects, injuries were in
most cases not treated, and deaths from sickness and accidents
were frequent on some projects, the Commission stated.

48. Forced labourers, including those sick or injured, were
frequently beaten or otherwise physically abused by soldiers,
resulting in serious injuries; some were killed, and women
performing compulsory labour were raped or otherwise sexually
abused by soldiers. 

49. In conclusion on the subject of forced labour, the Special
Rapporteur wishes to make two observations. First, the
proceedings and report of the Commission of Inquiry of the ILO
clearly indicate that the attitude of the regime in Myanmar
towards the Commission was the same as that which the regime
had adopted towards the Special Rapporteur, the Commission on
Human Rights and the General Assembly   that is to say, an
attitude of total non-cooperation, in violation of the
obligations that Myanmar had freely undertaken under the
Charter of the United Nations and relevant ILO Conventions.
Secondly, the conclusions of the Commission of Inquiry of the
ILO confirm all the serious concerns that the Special
Rapporteur has highlighted in his reports to the General
Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights concerning the
laws on and the practice of forced labour in Myanmar.(c) 

                          V.  Minorities

50. Since independence from British colonial rule in 1948,
Myanmar has witnessed unresolved conflicts between some of the
135 ethnic minorities of the country and the central
authorities. These conflicts have given rise to insurgencies
in several parts of the country which have resulted in large
numbers of internally displaced persons and refugees in
neighbouring countries. In connection with these conflicts,
the Special Rapporteur continues to receive detailed reports
on human rights violations committed by members of the armed
forces (Tatmadaw). Two examples among many others may be

    (a)   On 27 June 1998, 13 villagers, including two women
and seven children, were reportedly killed by about 120-130
troops of the State Police and Development Council led by
commander Htun Nyein. The troops were patrolling and searching
deserted villages in the countryside of Murng-Nai when they
found the people at a farm 4 miles west of their village of
Nawng Tao, Kaeng Tawng tract. The villagers killed belonged to
the same extended family; 

    (b)   On 29 June 1998, the same troops are reported to
have beaten to death a man named Sai Phim who was weeding his
farm at the deserted village of Nar Sarn, west of Nawng Phar,
Kaeng Tawng. They buried his body in the ground at the foot of
the steps of his farm hut, leaving his head above the ground.
51. Information received by the Special Rapporteur indicates
that sexual violence against women, including rape, is
frequently committed by members of the Tatmadaw with impunity.
The victims are civilians, often ethnic minority women and
girls, and the perpetrators are reported to come from all
ranks within the Tatmadaw hierarchy. One example of this kind
of violence involved a 14-year-old girl, who is reported to
have been raped and burned alive at a farm about 3-4 miles
east of Lai-Kha on 11 May 1998. The girl, named Nang Zarm
Hawm, was the daughter of Loong Parn and Pa Poo from Nawng Zem
village, who had been forced to move to Lai-Kha town in
October 1997. On that day, Nang Zarm Hawm had gone with her
parents to work at their rice farm, about 3 miles east of the
town. They ran out of the paddy seeds which they were sowing,
so Loong Parn and Pa Poo went back to town to get more paddy
seeds, leaving their daughter at the farm hut. At that time,
Maj Myint Than and 85-90 troops, who were patrolling the
outskirts of the town, came to the farm and saw Nang Zarm
Hawm alone in the hut. Myint Than asked her about her parents
and ordered his soldiers to wait at the edge of the farm and
arrest anyone who came to the farm. He then raped Nang Zarm
Hawm in the hut several times during the day and at about 4
a.m. burned Nang Zarm Hawm in the hut, and left the place with
his troops.  

52. Hundreds of thousands of persons have been forcibly
relocated, without any compensation or assistance, to new
towns, villages or relocation camps in which they are
essentially detained. Forced relocations are currently being
implemented on a wide scale in eastern Myanmar, in Shan State,
Karenni and Karen areas. One report indicates that on 4 June
1998, Golden Triangle Military Commander Major General Thein
Sein (Chairman of the Eastern Shan State Peace and Development
Council) ordered Major Hla Htwe to confiscate 13 plots of land
and rice fields owned by villagers of King-Ka in zone 2 of
Kaeng-Tung, for the purpose of expanding the SPDC military
base there. The military would provide each household with a
plot of land at a different place big enough to build a small
house. But the villagers would have to buy them at the price
of K 10,000 each plus an extra K 1,000 for a land survey fee.
Furthermore, the same villagers were forced to grow crops for
the military on the land that had been forcibly taken from

53. Forced conscription of civilians into compulsory labour
for the military authorities, including the practice of forced
recruitment of porters, is also one of the reasons that people
were leaving their homes. The practice disrupts family life
and precludes persons from carrying on their daily work in
order to earn a living. Reports indicate that from time to
time, SPDC troops in Kun-Hing have been forcing children of
the villagers to do menial work in the military bases, 10-15
boys at a time, ages ranging mostly from 14 to 16. On 20 May
1998, children were forced to work on certain military bases
fetching water, washing dishes, weeding grass in the military
compounds, sweeping and cleaning trenches, feeding pigs,
feeding chickens and ducks, washing and dusting cars and other
vehicles, and feeding dogs. When the children were tired, the
soldiers would scold them and beat them with sticks. Some
parents tried to go to work in the place of their children,
but the soldiers would not allow it. The children had to bring
their own food for the midday meal, but the soldiers either
ate or stole their food.

54. As a result of the internal armed conflict, abuses and
human rights violations, many people have fled to neighbouring
countries. It is reported that the Thai border is home to more
than 100,000 refugees, mainly Karen, Karenni and Shan. The
Bangladesh border is home to 20,000 refugees from Rakhine
state. The Special Rapporteur is aware that, since 1995, the
refugee camps along the Thai border have been prone to attacks
by troops allegedly supported by the Tatmadaw. It is further
reported that in March of this year, another series of attacks
occurred in the camps located along the Thai/Myanmar border.
Although UNHCR is present in Rakhine state and in Cox's Bazar
(Bangladesh), the Special Rapporteur hopes that UNHCR will
soon finalize an agreement with the Government of Thailand
regarding a presence on the Thai/Myanmar border.

               VI.  Conclusions and recommendations

A. Conclusions

55. The Special Rapporteur has to state with regret that
the Government of Myanmar has so far ignored the resolutions
of both the General Assembly and the Commission on Human
Rights. It has also displayed a total lack of cooperation with
the Special Rapporteur and has not so far, more than two years
after his appointment, found an appropriate time for him to
visit the country. 

56. The situation in Myanmar has not evolved in any favourable
way since the submission of the report of the Special
Rapporteur to the Commission on Human Rights at its
fifty-fourth session. The conclusions drawn in paragraphs
68-76 of that report (E/CN.4/1998/70) unfortunately remain

57. Although the Special Rapporteur had hoped that a dialogue
would finally begin between the Government and the National
League for Democracy, including leaders of minorities, his
hopes have not been fulfilled. The result is that the
structure of power under the military regime remains
autocratic and accountable only to itself and rests on the
denial and repression of most fundamental rights.  

58. The Special Rapporteur remains deeply concerned about the
continued harassment of political leaders and the detention of
many political prisoners. He is also seriously concerned about
the virtual blockade of the General-Secretary of the NLD in
her compound, about her continued vilification and the
inability of her party to organize normal political meetings
and functions.

59. The Special Rapporteur is deeply concerned about the
serious human rights violations that continue to be committed
by the armed forces in the ethnic minority areas. The
violations include extrajudicial and arbitrary executions (not
sparing women and children), rape, torture, inhuman treatment,
forced labour and denial of freedom of movement. These
violations have been so numerous and consistent over the past
years as to suggest that they are not simply isolated or the
acts of individual misbehaviour by middle- and lower-rank
officers but are rather the result of policy at the highest
level, entailing political and legal responsibility.

B. Recommendations

60. Given the refusal of the Government of Myanmar to give
effect to the resolutions of both the General Assembly and the
Commission on Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur feels
constrained to repeat the recommendations made in paragraphs
77-97 of his report to the Commission on Human Rights earlier
this year (E/CN.4/1998/70).

61. Further, the Special Rapporteur recommends that an
independent inquiry be held into the circumstances of the
deaths of Mr. Nichols in June 1996 and of U Thein in February
1998, while detained in Insein Prison, in the light of any
evidence that may be gathered from fellow prisoners and prison
officials and, indeed any other persons, so that action may be
taken against the individuals who may have been responsible
for their deaths or harsh treatment.  

62. Urgent steps should be taken by all governmental
authorities to put a stop, once and for all, to forced labour
and portering and to comply fully with the obligations of
Myanmar under ILO Convention No. 29.

63. The Government of Myanmar should, with the least possible
delay, implement the recommendations that the Commission of
Inquiry of the ILO recently made.  


(a) A/47/651, A/48/578, A/49/594 and Add.1, A/50/568,          
    A/51/466 and A/52/484.

(b) E/CN.4/1993/37, E/CN.4/1994/57, E/CN.4/1995/65 and
    Corr.1, E/CN.4/1996/65, E/CN.4/1997/64 and

(c) A/51/466, paras. 126-145; E/CN.4/1997/64, paras. 80-81,
    108 (13) and (14); A/52/484, paras. 50-68, 152 (j) and
    (k); E/CN.4/1998/70, para. 88.