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Oral Intervention on Item 14
Delivered by Deborah Stothard, April 12, 2001

Mr/Madam Chairperson,

I speak on behalf of Aliran Kesedaran Negara.

I wish to use this time to highlight two particular cases, that
although quite different, stem from the same root causes - the
oppression of ethnic nationality and religious minorities in Burma,
and the prevalent use of forced relocation.

These causes have led to an increase in the number of internally
displaced persons. Many of these internally displaced persons end up
becoming refugees, trafficked persons and migrant workers seeking to
escape the intense oppression perpetrated by the regime known as the
State Peace and Development Council of Myanmar.

On January 18th, Nang Thwe, a 14 year old girl, who came from the
relocation sites in Lai Kha township, Shan State, was sold at the town
of Mae Sai, in Thailand. Her brother traveled to Mae Sai to try to
bring her back home. However, the "purchaser" of the girl demanded
that he buy his sister back for 20,000 baht [about USD 500]. He
returned to Burma to collect some money. Tragically, when he arrived
in Thailand with some money, he was unable to get her back. Since then
14-year-old Nang Thwe and her "owner" have disappeared.

Nang Thwe and many young people like her are vulnerable to being
trafficked because of human rights violations committed by the
military regime in Burma. We can only pray that she will be able to
stay alive and be "lucky" enough to eventually be rescued by welfare
groups in Thailand. Even then, there is no guarantee that young women
like Nang Thwe will be returned home safely - the regime has not
committed itself to such repatriation programmes. In addition, the
villages of these young people may have been forcibly relocated
several times, or their communities may have fled to the jungles of
Burma, to evade the violations of security forces.

The problem of children of Burma being trafficked to work as
labourers, sex workers and domestic help is already well known to the
Commission. In March, the High Commissioner for Human Rights Mrs Mary
Robinson herself was able to witness this problem when she visited a
children's shelter near Bangkok, Thailand.

Therefore, it is somewhat amazing to hear the regime's ambassador His
Excellency U Mya Than this week deny that there have human rights
violations in Myanmar. Has the SPDC somehow miraculously eradicated
the scourge of human rights violations between March and this week, or
does he mean that the SPDC has successfully exported all its
violations across the border? Or are we talking about two entirely
different countries - is there another Myanmar or Burma existing in a
parallel universe that is free of human rights violations, and has H E
U Mya Than beamed himself down from that planet?

Mr/Madam Chairperson,

In Malaysia, Mr Peter Hee Man, of Chin ethnic nationality from Burma
faces deportation into the hands of the SPDC, merely because he went
to observe a protest at a public event held by the Myanmar embassy in
Kuala Lumpur.

Aliran urges the Malaysian government not to deport Peter Hee Man. Mr
Hee Man was was detained along with three Malaysians who were part of
a group that paraded Aung San Suu Kyi T-shirts in front of guests at
the embassy reception. Mr Hee Man was unlawfully detained by security
agents of the embassy who then insisted that the Malaysian police
arrest him. He was subsequently released and immediately re-arrested
for being an illegal immigrant. Mr Hee Man has a pending application
to be recognized as a refugee by the office of the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees. He is currently being detained at the
Immigration Detention Centre in Macap, Melaka state pending
deportation. UNHCR is attempting to process his application, however
the Malaysian government has given no assurance that Peter Hee Man
will be allowed to stay in Malaysia until his UNHCR application is

Aliran calls on the Malaysian government to stay Mr Peter Hee Man's
deportation until his application for refugee status and subsequent
resettlement can be processed. We are convinced that if he is
deported, he will be deported to the Myanmar or Burma that DOES
perpetrate human rights violations against activists and people of
ethnic and religious minorities.

We note that Mr Peter Hee Man has been identified as a pro-democracy
sympathizer, also that he is of Chin ethnic background and is a
Christian. It is a documented fact that the Chin people have been
targeted for abuse by the military regime on these grounds. Deporting
Mr Peter Hee Man would be an act that would condemn him to torture or
even death at the hands of the Burmese military junta.

Thank you.