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Myanmar: Report of the Secretary-Ge

United Nations
General Assembly

Distr.: General
24 October 2001
Original: English

Fifty-sixth session
Agenda item 119 (c)

Human rights questions: human rights situations and reports of special 
rapporteurs and representatives

Situation of human rights in Myanmar

Report of the Secretary-General*

I. Introduction

1. The present report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 23 of General 
Assembly resolution 55/112 of 4 December 2000, entitled "Situation of human 
rights in Myanmar", in which the Assembly requested me to continue my 
discussions on the situation of human rights and the restoration of 
democracy with the Government of Myanmar, to submit additional reports to 
the Assembly during its fifty-fifth session on the progress of those 
discussions, and to report to the Assembly at its fifty-sixth session and 
to the Commission on Human Rights at its fifty-seventh session on the 
progress made in the implementation of resolution 55/112.

2. As indicated in my previous reports, I consider the role entrusted to me 
by the General Assembly as being one of good offices, as opposed to the 
fact-finding mandate assigned by the Commission on Human Rights to its 
Special Rapporteur. In this context, the General Assembly, in resolution 
55/112, endorsed the appeal of my Special Envoy for Myanmar, Razali Ismail, 
for the initiation of a process of dialogue that would lead to national 
reconciliation and supported his efforts to achieve such a dialogue.

3. In implementation of resolution 55/112, my Special Envoy has so far 
visited Myanmar three times in 2001: from 5 to 9 January, from 1 to 4 June 
and from 27 to 30 August. During the three visits, his primary 
interlocutors from the Government side were Secretary-1 of the State Peace 
and Development Council, Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt, the Minister for 
Foreign Affairs, U Win Aung, and the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, U 
Khin Maung Win. Other governmental officials with whom the Special Envoy 
had discussions included the Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, U Tin 
Winn, and the Minister at the Office of the Chairman of the State Peace and 
Development Council, Brigadier General D. O. Abel. During each of his 
visits, he met separately with the General-Secretary of the National League 
for Democracy (NLD), Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. In August, Mr. Razali was able 
to meet with the Chairman and the Vice Chairman of NLD, U Aung Shwe and U 
Tin Oo, who had been released from their house arrest one day prior to his 
arrival in Yangon. My Special Envoy also held useful exchanges of views 
with representatives of the ethnic nationalities, the diplomatic corps, the 
United Nations country team and international non-governmental 
organizations in Myanmar. In addition, my Special Envoy has received 
considerable help both from inside and outside the region.

* The footnote requested by the General Assembly in resolution 54/248 was 
not included in the submission.

II. Contents of the discussions

4. Each visit by my Special Envoy has been conducted with a view to 
developing and sustaining the momentum for change that has been generated 
since the Government and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi embarked upon the most recent 
stage in the national reconciliation process in October 2000. Some 
encouraging developments have since emerged which have contributed to 
improving the political climate, and some basis of understanding is 
beginning to take root between the Government and NLD. During the visit of 
my Special Envoy to Myanmar in January, for example, the Foreign Minister, 
U Win Aung, acknowledged that, after an interval of six years, direct talks 
between the Government and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had resumed. Both sides 
have requested that the substance of their discussions remain confidential 
since the national reconciliation process is still fragile and at the 
confidence-building stage.

5. These and other recent developments demonstrated that national 
reconciliation should be home-grown and can only be successfully achieved 
by the people of Myanmar. My role, therefore, is to assist their efforts 
and help to facilitate the national reconciliation process among all of the 
interested parties in Myanmar. In that regard, the catalytic role that Mr. 
Razali has played and continues to play in facilitating the national 
reconciliation process, and his efforts to find ways to move the process 
forward, are appreciated.

6. In his separate discussions with Secretary-1 and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, 
Mr. Razali has emphasized that there is no alternative to the ongoing talks 
if Myanmar is to achieve national reconciliation and to return fully to the 
mainstream of the international community. His discussions centred mostly 
on three areas in which the two sides had indicated that some progress 
could be made: the release of political prisoners, allowing for normal 
activities of legal political parties, and the provision of enhanced 
humanitarian assistance.

7. Mr. Razali reasoned with his interlocutors from the Government that the 
imprisonment of people who are viewed as being only political activists 
could not but impact negatively on its goal of returning the country to 
democracy. He consistently urged the Government to consider releasing 
political prisoners detained at various facilities, including those 
described as guest houses. In so doing, my Special Envoy emphasized that 
priority should be given to members of Parliament elected in the 1990 
elections, the elderly, women and those who have completed their sentences. 
In parallel with the release of prisoners, he also emphasized the need for 
freedom of activity to be restored to legitimate political parties, 
including NLD.

8. The response of the Government to the release of political detainees has 
been relatively positive. Secretary-1 explained to Mr. Razali that, because 
of the need to maintain national security and stability, the Government 
would consider the release of political detainees on a case-by-case basis 
and on the basis of its discussions with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The 
Government of Myanmar has so far released 174 prisoners since January 2001, 
including all members of Parliament detained at guest houses and most of 
those detained at prisons. The Government has allowed NLD to open 21 
township offices in the Yangon district and has indicated to my Special 
Envoy that further offices would be allowed to reopen in the near future. 
For its part, the NLD leadership has reminded party members of the 
importance of exercising self-control at the present, delicate stage of the 
national reconciliation process.

9. In his meetings with the Government and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Mr. Razali 
discussed the possibility of greater United Nations humanitarian assistance 
to deal with the challenge posed by HIV/AIDS and other health-related 
issues, including malaria and the lack of immunization. The Government 
mentioned maternal and child welfare as an area in which international 
assistance is also required, while Daw Aung San Suu Kyi spoke of the threat 
from tuberculosis. My Special Envoy has reported that both sides are 
beginning to take an increasingly pragmatic approach in addressing the 
issue of humanitarian assistance, and he is hopeful that modalities 
acceptable to the two sides can soon be found.

10. My Special Envoy has made an effort to explain recent developments in 
the national reconciliation process to representatives of ethnic 
nationalities whose eventual inclusion in the process is supported by the 
United Nations. He has informed them that, at the present stage, neither 
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi nor the Government considered that the time was right 
to enter into a trilateral dialogue. Ethnic nationality leaders have 
expressed their support for the ongoing talks, and their hope that they 
would be invited to take part in the national reconciliation process at an 
appropriate time.

11. Mr. Razali stressed the need for the Government to deal seriously with 
the International Labour Organization (ILO) issue of forced labour. The 
Government assured him that it was prepared to grant free access to the 
high-level team from the International Labour Organization, which visited 
Myanmar for three weeks from 17 September to 6 October 2001. While the 
team's report on its mission is not yet available, initial reports from 
Yangon indicate that the team was indeed able to go to the areas that it 
had wanted to visit. The interim report (see A/56/312) prepared by the 
Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of 
human rights in Myanmar, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, on the basis of his first 
visit to Myanmar from 3 to 5 April 2001, and a further report reflecting 
the results of his second visit, from 9 to 17 October 2001, should be noted.

III. Observations

12. The national reconciliation process in Myanmar is at a crossroads. 
Important positive developments have taken place since January 2001, and I 
am encouraged by the growing indications that a climate of understanding 
between the Government and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD is taking root. 
I commend the Prime Minister and Chairman of the State Peace and 
Development Council, Senior General Than Shwe, and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, 
for their decision to enter into a dialogue on national reconciliation and 
democratization in Myanmar. The process is, however, still at the 
confidence-building stage and the present positive climate must lead to 
more positive results in the process towards national reconciliation and 
democracy. Much more needs to be done to make the process irreversible. To 
that end, I urge the Government to continue releasing the remaining 
political detainees and to further restore freedom of activity for 
legitimate political parties at an early date. At the same time, I note 
with regret that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi remains at her house, and express the 
hope that the ongoing talks between the two sides will soon lead to the 
restoration of her rights to move freely around the country, as the leader 
of a lawful political party. I appeal to Senior General Than Shwe and other 
leaders of the Government and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to continue to work 
closely together to ensure that a national reconciliation that is 
acceptable to all involved parties in Myanmar can be achieved at an early 
date. I also call upon the international community to continue to respond 
in equal measure to further progress in the national reconciliation 
process. The international community must play its role in various ways to 
encourage realization of the goals of national reconciliation and 
democracy. The United Nations remains committed to assisting the people of 
Myanmar to achieve progress and social viability in a democratic framework, 
since this is their inalienable right. I am particularly grateful for the 
consistent support that certain interested Member States, both inside and 
outside the region, have provided to my Special Envoy's mission of good 
offices over the past year. I stand ready to continue to do my utmost to 
assist the process of national reconciliation in Myanmar, especially with 
the assistance of those countries.