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United Nations A/55/359
General Assembly
Distr.: General
22 August 2000
Original: English

Fifty-fifth session
Item 116 (c) of the provisional agenda*
Human rights questions: human rights situations and
reports of special rapporteurs and representatives

Situation of human rights in Myanmar

Note by the Secretary-General**

The Secretary-General has the honour to transmit to
the members of the General Assembly the interim
report prepared by Rajsoomer Lallah, Special
Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on
the situation of human rights in Myanmar, in
accordance with Commission resolution 2000/23
and Economic and Social Council decision 2000/255.

* A/55/150 and Corr.1 and 2.
** In accordance with General Assembly resolution
54/248, sect. C, para. 1, the present report is
being submitted on 22 August 2000 so as to include
as much updated information as possible.

Interim report of the Special Rapporteur of the
Commission on Human Rights on the situation
of human rights in Myanmar


The present interim report takes account of the
situation as of 31 July 2000 and should be read
together with the report of the Special Rapporteur
submitted to the Commission on Human Rights at its
fifty-sixth session (E/CN.4/2000/38). The Special
Rapporteur has not so far been authorized to visit

The suppression of the exercise of political rights,
freedom of thought, expression, association and
movement continues unabated and is especially
targeted against the National League for Democracy
and other opposition minority groups.

Torture and other forms of inhuman treatment,
including arbitrary detention and long terms of
imprisonment of political opponents, continue.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is
able to visit a number of prisons and places of

The administration of justice is marked by a lack
of judicial independence, the absence of security
of tenure of judges, the non-observance of basic
due process guarantees, trials in camera, the
absence of access to legal representation and the
routine application of repressive laws which are
themselves violative of international norms.

The economy is in a very weak state, characterized
by extreme poverty, lack of food security, especially
in rural areas, and unsatisfactorily low levels of
budgetary allocation in the areas of health,
education and welfare of women and children.

No satisfactory measures have to date been taken
to outlaw forced labour and its practice. It is
feared that the International Labour Organization
may take measures involving sanctions if the situation
is not remedied.

Forced relocation in the minority areas still
continues, entailing violence, including killings,
rape, torture and inhuman treatment of civilians in
the implementation of a counter-insurgency strategy.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
against Women and the Committee on the Rights of the
Child have welcomed the cooperation of Myanmar in
submitting the reports required under the two related
Conventions and in engaging in a dialogue with these
Committees. A number of concerns in various areas
affecting the lives and well- eing of women and
children have been identified by these Committees
and recommendations have been  ade, which remain to
be implemented.


                                           Paragraphs Page*
Summary .............................................  2
I. Introduction .................................1-5   4
II. Exercise of civil and political rights ......6-29  4
A.      Measures adversely affecting democratic
    governance . .................................6-12  4
B. Torture and other forms of inhuman treatment .13-16 5
C. Arbitrary detention ..........................17-20 5
D. Prison conditions.............................21-26 6
E. Administration of justice ....................27-29 6
III. Exercise of economic, social and cultural
      rights.. ...................................30-44 7
A. Right to health...............................30-35 7
B. Right to education............................36-38 8
C. Forced labour.................................39-44 8
IV. Vulnerable groups ...........................45-56 9
A. Women ........................................45-47 9
B. Children .....................................48-51 10
C. Displaced persons and refugees ...............   52 10
D. Ethnic minorities.............................53-56 11
V. Conclusions and recommendations ..............57-59 11

[ page numbers refer to the pdf version on the UN website: 
http://www.un.org/documents/ga/docs/55/a55359.pdf -- DA]
I.      Introduction
1. The present interim report is submitted pursuant
to paragraph 10 (a) of Commission on Human Rights
resolution 2000/23 of 18 April 2000.

2. In that resolution, the Commission on Human
Rights has once again urged the Government of
Myanmar to cooperate fully and without further delay
with the Special Rapporteur to allow him urgently,
without preconditions, to conduct a field mission and
to establish direct contacts with the Government and all
other relevant sectors of society.

3. The Special Rapporteur regrets that, despite the
repeated requests of the General Assembly and the
Commission on Human Rights in this regard and the
frequent indications of the Government to give serious
consideration to a visit of the Special Rapporteur, no
authorization has so far been given by the Government
for such a visit. The Special Rapporteur expresses the
hope that the Government will take concrete steps
towards establishing cooperation with him in the
discharge of his mandate.

4. The Special Rapporteur welcomes the
appointment of the Secretary-General's Special Envoy
to Myanmar and expresses the hope that the
Government will cooperate fully with him in the
discharge of his functions.

5. The present interim report concerns information
received by the Special Rapporteur as of 31 July 2000
and should be read in conjunction with his most recent
report to the Commission, dated 24 January 2000

II. Exercise of civil and political rights

A. Measures adversely affecting democratic governance

6. In his report to the Commission on Human Rights
at its fifty-sixth session, the Special Rapporteur
continued to examine the Myanmar Government's
treatment of opposition political parties and their
members. He took note of the intensive harassment and
intimidation campaign against members of the National
League for Democracy (NLD), aimed at coercing
individual members to tender their resignations. He
further noted the restrictions and close surveillance of
the NLD leadership and various measures taken to
hamper the party's proper functioning, including
forcible closures of a number of its branches. In
addition to actions taken against NLD, the Special
Rapporteur observed a similar pattern of restrictions
and pressure against ethnic opposition parties, such as
the Mon National Democratic Front, the Zomi National
Congress and the Shan National League for

7. The Special Rapporteur continues to receive
persistent reports of Government policies and
directives aimed at the elimination of NLD through
intimidation, threats, coercion and charges of a
political character against its members, particularly
since April 2000. Members of the Parliament elected in
1990 continue to be arrested, detained or sentenced
under an arsenal of laws, such as the Emergency
Provision Act, the State Protection Act, the Official
Secrets Act, the Printers and Publishers Registration
Act and the Unlawful Associations Act, all designed to
implement a campaign of political oppression.
Arbitrary arrests and detention of NLD members and
sympathizers, combined with the extension of prison
terms for those who have already served their sentence,
make up a general and consistent pattern of the
suppression of fundamental rights to democratic
governance pursuant to universal norms.

8. Local military intelligence units, military-backed
organizations and similar authorities reportedly
persecute members of NLD and continue to be resorted
to in order to obtain their resignation as members of
their party. The Union Solidarity and Development
Association, a government-run organization, has
reportedly engaged in attacks, particularly on NLD
members. According to reports received by the Special
Rapporteur, a directive was issued in March 2000 to all
police units to use all means necessary to eliminate
NLD by the end of the year. Similar systematic efforts
have already been reported upon in previous years.

9. According to information received, the authorities
continue to organize meetings, mass rallies and
petitions forcing citizens to denounce elected members
of Parliament or to call for the dissolution of NLD. The
state-controlled media participate in these campaigns
by publicizing resignations of NLD members and
engaging in the campaign of hostility particularly
towards NLD and its leadership.

10. The authorities are reported to continue limiting
or else prohibiting public assembly; NLD offices
continue to be shut down and meetings held in support
of NLD or its leadership continue to be consistently

11. Between April and May 2000, some 500 members
of NLD, including its Youth Wing, are reported to have
been arrested and imprisoned. In several instances, it
was not clear whether the detainees had been formally
charged or whether their families were given access to

12. The Special Rapporteur wishes to observe that the
political opposition has shown itself over the years to
be a movement of peace, overwhelmingly legitimized
by the generality of the people in Myanmar in the
general elections of 1990. In this connection, he wishes
to recall the observation made in paragraph 15 of his
last report (E/CN.4/2000/38) to the Commission on
Human Rights, namely, that the Government should
seek to redeem the pledge it made in Declaration
1/1990 (see A/51/466, paras. 23-29 and annex) by
engaging in a dialogue with the opposition that is
meaningful and representative of all ethnic groups. In
this way, the Government would best respond to the
wishes of the General Assembly and the Commission,
bring to an end the hostile policy it has so far adopted
against its own people, achieve national reconciliation
and enable Myanmar to fulfil its obligations under the
Charter towards the community of nations, in particular
towards all its neighbours in the region, some of whom
are burdened with a flow of refugees and other
displaced persons when they are themselves facing
difficult times.

B. Torture and other forms of inhuman treatment

13. The Special Rapporteur has received information
that torture and other forms of ill-treatment of
detainees occur in a systematic and widespread manner
in Military Intelligence interrogation centres and
certain prisons. Torture or other forms of inhuman
treatment of political detainees are believed to be
routine, especially during initial interrogation.
Convicted prisoners are also reported to be subjected to
torture and to other forms of cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment for breaches of prison regulations.

14. The Special Rapporteur continues to receive
information that torture takes place within the context
of counter-insurgency activities against armed ethnic
minority opposition groups. Ethnic minority civilians
are reportedly at particular risk of torture by the
military, which associates them automatically with
insurgents. Forcible relocations accompanied by grave
human rights violations, including rape and torture, are
part of counter-insurgency activities, particularly in
Kayin, Kayah and Shan states.

15. Women, particularly members of ethnic
minorities, continue to be subject to torture, rape or
inhuman treatment by the military, especially in the
context of forcible relocations and forced labour. The
perpetrators are reported to benefit from impunity.

16. The Special Rapporteur has received detailed
information concerning the case of Ko Thein Lwin,
member of the NLD Youth Wing, who was reportedly
tortured for some 15 days during his detention in a
Navy Military Intelligence office following his arrest
on 6 September 1999 because of his alleged
involvement in the so-called 9999 operation, although
no formal charges appear to have been made. He is
reported to have been subjected to continuous physical
abuse by his interrogators, such as kicks and fist blows,
as well as other forms of ill-treatment and torture,
including the dropping of hot candle wax on his back.
He was reportedly transferred to Insein prison on 21
September 1999 and then to an unidentified location,
before being released on 5 June 2000.

C. Arbitrary detention

17. The Special Rapporteur has received allegations
about a number of cases of arbitrary detention,
including that of U Kaythara, arrested in 1996, who
was reportedly sentenced to seven years' imprisonment
on 15 August 1996 for displaying a poster calling for
political discussion between the State Peace and
Development Council (SPDC) and NLD, but it is not
known under which legislation he was charged.

18. U Than Chaun, of Shwe-Goo Township in Kachin
state, was reportedly arrested on 18 December 1999,
allegedly for tuning his radio to a Voice Of America
programme. On 19 January 2000, he was apparently
sentenced to two years' imprisonment under article
505(B) of the criminal code of Myanmar, following a
trial during which he reportedly had no access to legal
representation. He is also believed to have a potentially
life-threatening medical condition. The Working Group
on Arbitrary Detention has transmitted urgent appeals
to the Government of Myanmar concerning a number
of cases, none of which have been answered to date.

19. James Mawdsley, a British and Australian citizen,
was arrested in Tachilek on 31 August 1999, reportedly
without an arrest warrant. He was denied access to
legal advice or representation during the trial that was
held within hours of arrest. He was sentenced to 12
years' imprisonment. An earlier sentence of five years
resulting from a previous conviction was subsequently
reinstated, bringing the total to 17 years. He is
currently believed to be held in solitary confinement at
Kengtung Prison.

20. Kyaw Aung, Kyaw Min Htun, Pyo Wai and
Maung Saw were reportedly arrested by Military
Intelligence officers at their homes in Pegu on 2
August 1999, allegedly in connection with their
political activities. It is not known whether they were
formally charged with a criminal offence, whether they
had access to members of their family or to any legal

D. Prison conditions

21. The International Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC) continues to have access to a number of places
of detention in Myanmar, including jails, so-called
"guest houses" and labour camps. It is a matter of
satisfaction that SPDC cooperation with ICRC has
resumed and that ICRC is able to operate in accordance
with its own procedures. It is to be hoped that ICRC,
which works independently, will be able to intensify its
efforts throughout the country, including so-called
Military Intelligence centres, where systematic
physical and psychological abuse, including torture,
have often been reported.

22. As is well known, ICRC operates under rules of
confidentiality which the Special Rapporteur must
strictly respect. Consequently, the Special Rapporteur
has relied on other reports in connection with all the
cases mentioned below.

23. According to several reports, harsh conditions of
detention in several prisons and other places of
detention continue to exist. Examples of harsh
conditions of detention include cruel and degrading
treatment, lack of medical assistance, inadequate diet,
extended solitary confinement and detention in tiny
cells meant for dogs.

24. Daw San San Nwe, a journalist and writer
arrested in August 1994, allegedly for passing
information to foreign journalists, was sentenced to 10
years' imprisonment and is reported to be currently
held in Insein Prison. She is said to be in very poor
health, suffering from high blood pressure, heart
problems and paralysis on the right side of the body.
U Myo Htun, a businessman arrested for his
contribution to a written history of the student
movement and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment in
March 1998, is reported to have been severely beaten
and is being held in Myingyan Prison in poor health.

25. Ma Khin Khin Leh, born in 1966, who was
referred to in the Special Rapporteur's last interim
report to the General Assembly (see A/54/440, para. 8),
was reportedly arrested in Bago in July 1999 and
sentenced to life imprisonment on 3 December 1999,
allegedly in connection with her husband's political
activities. She was allegedly tortured during
interrogation, and is believed to be suffering from a
lung disease. After several initial transfers, she was
moved from Insein Prison to an unknown location in
January 2000. Moe Kalayar Oo was arrested on 20
February 1995 along with more than 50 other people
who had attended the funeral of former Prime Minister
U Nu, and was sentenced to seven years'
imprisonment. She was initially detained and held in
solitary confinement in Insein Prison for complaining
about the denial of medication. She is believed to be
currently detained in Thayawaddy Prison, Bago
division, in poor health. Khin Zaw Win, arrested in
1994, was allegedly severely tortured in early 1996. He
is believed to be currently held in poor health in
Myitkyian Prison.

26. Detention conditions remain a matter of concern,
particularly in the case of political prisoners, who
appear to be subjected to the harshest prison regime.

E. Administration of justice

27. In his report to the Commission on Human Rights
at its fifty-sixth session (see E/CN.4/2000/38, paras.
18-29), the Special Rapporteur analysed the law and
practice governing the administration of justice. He
noted that the administration of justice is greatly
marked by legal and factual constraints inconsistent
with judicial independence. Not only are the courts not
independent but they are also powerless in protecting
the rights of victims of violations of their basic rights.
The lack of full respect for due process, judicial control
over detention or absence of an effective remedy and a
culture of impunity for transgressions by officials are
some of the effects of a judicial system which is
effectively used as an instrument of oppression.

28. The Special Rapporteur has received no
information to suggest that the administration of justice
has improved or that repressive laws inherited from
colonial times are no longer resorted to, and they
remain part of the legal armoury devised over the last
decade to suppress public freedoms of expression,
movement associations on the exercise of democratic
rights. These rights are taken for granted in a free
society in accordance with generally accepted
international norms consecrated in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and more specifically
spelt out in the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights.

29. Procedural problems in the administration of
justice include entire cases of proceedings being
conducted in camera, keeping the family and the
counsel of the accused ignorant of the sentence passed
or failing to inform the accused of the provisions of the
law under which they have been charged. Arbitrary
sentencing by the military intelligence at the time of
arrest remains an alarming phenomenon.

III. Exercise of economic, social and cultural rights

A. Right to health

30. The Special Rapporteur wishes to draw particular
attention to chapter III of his latest report to the
Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/2000/38),
which dealt with the situation in Myanmar affecting
economic, social and cultural rights. In particular, he
highlighted problems arising from poverty, lack of food
security, the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired
immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) epidemic,
education and forced labour. The Special Rapporteur
only wishes to add some relevant information affecting,
in particular, the last three aspects of the problem.

31. As reflected in the Special Rapporteur's previous
report, some of the major causes adversely affecting
health involve insufficient allocation of public
resources (0.2 per cent of gross domestic product
(GDP) according to the Human Development Report
2000), lack of initiative in prevention work and a
history of non-recognition of major threats to health,
such as the spread of HIV infection and intravenous
drug use.

32. The World Health Organization (WHO) World
Health Report 2000: Health Systems - Improving
Performance ranks Myanmar's overall performance at
second-to-last: 190th out of 191 States. In general, the
report reveals the link between good governance and
the health of populations, by pointing out government
responsibility for stewardship of national resources for
the benefit of their people, noting that stewardship in
health is the very essence of good government since it
means establishing the best and the fairest health
system possible, and includes exerting influence
through regulation and advocacy, and collecting and
using information.

33. The Government's policies in health still appear
to be indecisive and inadequate. Whereas the
representative of the Government, introducing the
initial report to the Committee on the Elimination of
Discrimination against Women in January 2000,
claimed that the fight against AIDS and the spreading
of HIV infection was a top priority, Lieutenant General
Khin Nyunt, speaking in the same month, would appear
to have claimed otherwise. He is reported to have
stated that traditional cultural values and moderation
were sufficient measures, and to have dismissed the
idea of an AIDS pandemic as politically motivated
dissident propaganda. Another area of significant
inadequacy relates to universal health care. According
to WHO, publicly funded medical care is
approximately one third to one fourth the size of
private medical care in terms of financing, clearly
indicating wide inequality of access to adequate health
care, both preventive and curative.

34. As noted in the Special Rapporteur's most recent
report to the Commission on Human Rights,
conservative Joint United Nations Programme on
HIV/AIDS estimates put the number of adults and
children living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 1999 at
530,000, up 20 per cent from 440,000 two years
earlier; 180,000 of those infected are said to be women
and 14,000 children. The estimated percentage of
infected adults is 1.99. Very little work is said to be
done on prevention and raising awareness among the
segments of population who are most at risk (sex and
migrant workers, drug users). Worse still, according to
various credible sources, the Government exerts
pressure on the health service to under-report the
number of cases of HIV infections and AIDS-related
illnesses. As in the case of the right to food, not only
does such denial and suppression of accurate
information reveal the regime's insensitivity in the
allocation of resources in the area of health, in the face
of countless deaths and unnecessary suffering among
the population, but also certain government policies,
such as the de facto criminalization of the possession
of hypodermic needles or of condoms by women,
appear to countermand efforts to introduce safe
practices for the prevention of HIV infection.

35. According to various credible reports, Myanmar
is the world's second largest producer of heroin and
one of the major producers of other narcotics. One
study published in the January 2000 edition of AIDS,
the International AIDS Society journal, links the
outbreaks of injecting drug use and consequent HIV
infection to major overland drug trafficking routes in
Myanmar and neighbouring countries. The study calls
for a coordinated regional narcotic and HIV
suppression programme, and a change in policies that
hamper prevention and treatment work.

B. Right to education

36. According to the UNDP Human Development
Report 2000, Myanmar spends only 1.2 per cent of its
GDP on education, one of only 11 countries in the
world to spend less than 2 per cent. Although
nominally available to all, public education is costly in
terms of school fees, books and classroom facilities.
Parents are often required to build or maintain school
buildings. Moreover, widespread reports allege that
bribery is frequently required to be paid to school
authorities. Fees for the annual attendance of ordinary
schools are said to range from three to five months'
salary. Universities and the better schools are only
accessible to the wealthy ruling elite. According to the
1999 World Bank report, Mynamar: An Economic and
Social Assessment, most children from poor families
drop out of school before completing the compulsory
five-year cycle for lack of funds or to look for work
(36 and 27 per cent, respectively). The Committee on
the Rights of the Child expressed its concern in 1997
about the high dropout and repetition rates, as well as
about the lack of resources in vocational training.
However, one encouraging development is that a
project launched by the United Nations Children's
Fund (UNICEF) together with the Department of Basic
Education appears to have yielded some improvement
in child attendance and a fall in dropout rates.

37. The under-funded education system is also
reported to be under severe ideological pressure by the
military regime. The Special Rapporteur has received
credible reports that teachers and other civil servants
are subjected to a compulsory 33-question test, the aim
of which is to determine their political leanings and by
extension their prospects in the service. Students are
reportedly under pressure to join the government-controlled
Union Solidarity and Development Association.

38. Higher schools and universities have been closed
for substantive periods of time since 1990. However,
most recent reports indicate that about 30 universities,
which had been closed since 1996, are to be opened
imminently for up to 60,000 students in relocated
university campuses which have been dispersed around
Yangon's suburbs to prevent the organization of dissent
and public protest.

C. Forced labour

39. In previous reports to the General Assembly and
the Commission on Human Rights, the Special
Rapporteur gave an account of developments following
the International Labour Organization (ILO)
Commission of Inquiry report of July 1998. It will be
recalled that the report concluded that the obligation to
suppress the use of forced or compulsory labour is
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,
health and basic needs of the people. At its 276th
session, held in November 1999, the ILO Governing
Body, discussed measures to secure compliance by the
Government of Myanmar with the recommendations of
the Commission of Inquiry established to examine the
observance of the 1930 Forced Labour Convention, and
decided to pursue the matter at the June 2000
International Labour Conference.

40. An ILO technical cooperation mission was
conducted between 22 and 27 May 2000 in order to
secure the implementation of the Commission of
Inquiry's recommendations by means of changes in the
legislation and the establishment of a credible follow-up
mechanism. Its aim was also to subsequently report
to the Conference on the measures that the Government
intended to take in that respect. In its concluding
remarks, the report of the mission stated that first, the
mission believed that the Commission of Inquiry's
recommendations could be satisfied in a coherent and
practical way if a comprehensive framework of
legislative, executive, and administrative measures
were adopted:

(a) Rendering all practices constituting forced
labour in the sense of ILO Convention No. 29 illegal
under national law, and ensuring that all legislative
provisions in force that permitted the imposition of
forced labour were repealed or appropriately amended;

(b) Giving specific instructions to the state
authorities, notably to the responsible military
authorities, regarding the consequences to be drawn
from the above as regards the various forms of work
mentioned in the Commission's report, and monitoring
their application, so that in practice no forced or
compulsory labour was imposed by any authority;

(c) Informing the entire population adequately
and completely about the above measures as well as the
penalties applicable pursuant to section 374 of the
Penal Code to all those imposing forced labour, and
taking concrete action to ensure that those penalties
were strictly applied in practice.

Second, as the Myanmar authorities were informed by
the mission, the ILO could certainly help formulate and
implement such a framework if the Government's
commitment to take expeditious action to this effect
was made sufficiently clear in the eyes of the
International Labour Conference.

41. In a letter to members of the technical
cooperation mission, dated 27 May 2000, Myanmar's
Minister of Labour, Major General Tin Ngwe, wrote
that the Government had taken and was taking the
necessary measures to ensure that there were no
instances of forced labour in Myanmar. He also wrote
that Myanmar would take into consideration
appropriate measures, including administrative,
executive and legislative measures, to ensure the
prevention of such occurrences in the future.

42. On 14 June 2000, considering that the factual
situation concerning forced labour had remained
unchanged, the International Labour Conference
resolved to take action to bring about Myanmar's
compliance with ILO Convention No. 29 on forced

43. Under the terms of the resolution, a series of
measures would take effect on 30 November 2000
unless, before that date, the Governing Body of the
ILO is satisfied that the intentions expressed by the
Minister of Labour have been translated into a
framework of legislative, executive and administrative
measures that are sufficiently concrete and detailed to
demonstrate that the recommendations of the
Commission of Inquiry have been satisfied. The
measures include recommending to ILO members that
they review their relations with the Government of
Myanmar and ensure that it cannot take advantage of
such relations to continue the practice of forced labour;
calling on international organizations cooperating with
the ILO to review any cooperation they may have with
the Government of Myanmar and to cease any activity
which could directly or indirectly abet the practice of
forced labour; and calling on the Economic and Social
Council and the General Assembly to make similar
recommendations to Governments and specialized

44. The ILO Director-General has indicated that he is
hopeful that Myanmar will grasp the opportunity
offered by the Conference decision. The Special
Rapporteur joins him in this hope.

IV. Vulnerable groups

A. Women

45. In his previous report, the Special Rapporteur
reviewed the status of women, especially in respect of
sexual violence, torture, arbitrary detention, forced
labour and trafficking in persons. Those violations not
only affect the lives of individual women victims of
violence and abuse but also have a detrimental effect
on their children, families and communities. The fact
that much of this violence frequently goes unreported,
unpunished and unacknowledged by the Myanmar
authorities also effectively perpetuates the culture of
violence, lawlessness and impunity, especially in the
ethnic areas.

46. Myanmar ratified the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against
Women in 1987, established a national committee on
women's affairs and initiated the drafting of a national
plan of action for the advancement of women in the
same year. It presented its initial report to the
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
against Women, and the Committee considered it in
January 2000. The Committee expressed its
appreciation to the Government for engaging in a
constructive dialogue. It expressed its concerns in a
number of specific areas, however, including the lack
of funding of the national committee, the violation of
the rights of women members of ethnic groups,
violations by military personnel, the plight of women
in custody (particularly in respect of sexual and other
custodial violence), the lack of measures to ensure the
equal participation of women in open and pluralistic
society, and restricted access to certain courses in
higher education. The Committee called on the
Government to prosecute perpetrators of violations of
human rights of women and to provide gender-sensitization
training to the military. It further
recommended that the provisions of the Convention be
incorporated in domestic law and include a definition
of "sex discrimination".

47. The Special Rapporteur on violence against
women, its causes and consequences, in her 1999
report to the Commission on Human Rights
(E/CN.4/1999/68), expressed her regret that the
Government appeared to deny that domestic violence
was a problem in the country, and that there was no
indication of specific measures to address the issue.
She concluded that official denial of the existence of
the problem might serve as an obstacle to victims
reporting of such violence, which in turn might
perpetuate the culture of denial. She has not yet
received the Government's response regarding the
cases of Naw May Oo Paw, the wives of Bo Pha Palaw
Pho and Bo Kyaw Hair, or Nam Nu and Mugha Lwee
Paw, all of whom were referred to in paragraph 56 of
the above-mentioned report.

B. Children

48. Myanmar became a State party to the Convention
on the Rights of the Child on 15 July 1991, and its
second periodic report has now been overdue for two
years. The Committee on the Rights of the Child, in its
1997 concluding observations on Myanmar, had
expressed concern about the compatibility of
Myanmar's domestic legislation with the Convention.
The principal concerns of the Committee related to the
Citizenship Act, the Village and Towns Acts, and the
Whipping Act, regarding the laws relating to freedom
of expression and association, child labour and juvenile
justice. It also found that the age of criminal
responsibility, at seven years of age, was too low, and
that torture was not clearly prohibited by existing
legislation. The Committee has not yet received
information from the Government whether any of the
recommendations have been implemented in national

49. Myanmar is reportedly a State with one of the
highest numbers of child soldiers in the world. Both the
national army and non-state ethnic and other armed
groups are believed to be involved in often-coerced
recruitment of children. Street children, orphans and
children belonging to ethnic minorities are believed to
be the most vulnerable. Unofficial estimates put the
number of child soldiers at some 50,000, the highest in
any country in the world.

50. Violence against children is reportedly on the
increase, especially in rural ethnic minority areas. The
Special Rapporteur continues to receive information on
incidents of wilful killing, torture, trafficking and
forced labour of children.

51. Food deprivation, repeated illness, lack or
absence of health care, and death or forced relocation
of parents appear to be some of the major causes of the
phenomenon of the stunted growth of children.
According to the UNICEF report, The Progress of
Nations 2000, 45 per cent of Myanmar children under
five are stunted in growth, and according to WHO 39
per cent are underweight; according to UNICEF, 1.7
per cent of girls and 1 per cent of boys between the
ages of 15 and 24 are HIV positive.

C. Displaced persons and refugees

52. As pointed out in the Special Rapporteur's earlier
reports, one of Myanmar's key indicators of the grave
human rights situation is the number of its refugees and
internally displaced persons. Some 500,000 refugees or
other displaced persons of Myanmar origin are
believed to be seeking temporary protection in
neighbouring countries, such as India, Bangladesh and
Thailand. Between 500,000 and one million are also
reportedly displaced internally. Independent monitoring
or assistance to internally displaced persons has not so
far been authorized. It is hoped that the Government
will build upon its May 1999 agreement with the
International Committee of the Red Cross to allow
greater access in the field.

D. Ethnic minorities

53. Among the minority groups, the Shan, Karen,
Karenni and Rohingya in particular continue to be the
target of indiscriminate violence whether they are
civilians or insurgents. The most frequently observed
human rights violations involve extortion, rape, torture
and other forms of ill-treatment, forced labour and
portering, arbitrary arrests and long-term
imprisonment, forcible relocation and in some cases,
extrajudicial executions - all perpetrated by the
military authorities within the context of counter-insurgency
activities against armed ethnic minority
opposition groups. No visible improvement was
observed in the period under review despite repeated
calls to the Government to take meaningful steps to
improve the situation.

54. The Military Intelligence units appear to use
torture and arbitrary detention, as well as sexual
violence against women, in the course of their work.
Regular military units are frequently reported to
perpetrate extrajudicial executions, especially within
the context of forced portering. The widespread
campaign of forcible relocations continues in the
Kayin, Kayah and Shan states. Once relocated, the
people are reportedly forced to remain on the
relocation sites in often health-threatening conditions,
which include overcrowding and lack of food,
sanitation and safe drinking water. The military also
often restrict residents' freedom of movement to a set
radius outside the camp. The relocated population is
threatened not to leave the radius or return to their
places of origin on pain of execution. Relocations are
often accompanied by violence, especially against
women, looting and extortion by the military. The
observed pattern of forced relocations amounts to a
premeditated destruction of a way of life, and is
condemned in the strongest terms.

55. The Special Rapporteur has received a number of
convergent credible reports of a series of massacres in
Kunhing township (Shan state) in which over 100 Shan
and hill tribes people were killed in the months of
January, February and May of 2000, including 19
people who had returned to their deserted village and
were reportedly killed by troops of Infantry Battalion
66 at Kaeng Kham village on 30 January. On 23 May,
Infantry Battalion 246 reportedly shot 64 Shan and hill
tribe villagers dead while they were working in the
fields near Kunhing town. In another case, Lung Ti, a
40-year-old rice farmer, Su Nan Ta, his 11-year-old
son, and Ei Su, his 18-year-old daughter, were
reportedly killed by troops from Kunhing Township
after returning clandestinely to their former village of
Nong Hai. The farmer was reportedly shot dead in his
hut and the children were found decapitated.

56. The Special Rapporteur has at the last moment
also received reports of, among other complaints, a
number of killings, rapes, disappearances, forced
labour, forced relocation and extortion by members of
the border security force (Na Sa Ka) and SPDC
soldiers in Arakan state. The Special Rapporteur will
follow this up in his next report to the Commission on
Human Rights.

V. Conclusions and recommendations

57. The Special Rapporteur has noted the submission
of Myanmar's initial report pursuant to its obligations
under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Discrimination against Women. He wishes to renew
his recommendation to the Government to consider
adopting other international instruments and to
incorporate them in domestic law. He also encourages
the repeal of discriminatory provisions in the
Citizenship Act, and the repeal of all decrees and
orders criminalizing the exercise of freedom of thought
and expression, freedom of association and movement,
and freedom to exercise political and democratic rights
in accordance with international norms.

58. The Special Rapporteur follows with great
interest the developments stemming from the 1998 ILO
Commission of Inquiry into practices of forced labour.
He wishes to highlight the opportunity that has thus
presented itself to the Government to avail itself of
technical cooperation assistance in the implementation
of the ILO recommendations and to implement
concrete legal, executive and administrative measures
to eradicate the practice of forced labour.

59. The Special Rapporteur notes with deep concern
the continuing deterioration of the human rights
situation in Myanmar since his last report. The
suppression of all opposition political activity, inhuman
treatment towards members of the opposition and
ethnic minorities, and the absence of respect and
protection for the liberty, health, education and human
development of its population remain matters of grave
concern, and urgent and meaningful measures to halt
and reverse the downward spiral of this situation are
called for. In this connection, the Special Rapporteur
wishes to draw attention to the recommendations made
in paragraphs 80 to 83 of his 1999 report to the
Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/1999/35) and
paragraphs 50 to 55 of his last interim report to the
General Assembly (A/54/440).

[This is a Text version of the report on the UN website at
http://www.un.org/documents/ga/docs/55/a55359.pdf  DA]