Sixth session
Agenda item 4

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of
human rights in Myanmar, Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, mandated by resolution S-5/1 adopted by the Human Rights Council at its 5th Special Session*

* The annex to the present report is circulated as received in the language of submission only. Summary

At its fifth Special Session dedicated to the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the Human Rights Council, by its resolution S-5/1 of 2 October 2007, requested “the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar to assess the current human rights situation and to monitor the implementation of this resolution, including by seeking an urgent visit to Myanmar, and to report to the resumed sixth session of the Human Rights Council” and urged “the Government of Myanmar to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur”. On 19 October 2007, the Government officially extended an invitation to the Special Rapporteur and noted that he will be “accorded full cooperation”. The Special Rapporteur conducted an official mission to Myanmar from 11 to 15 November 2007. He had additional meetings with the diplomatic community, United Nations agencies and civil society organizations in Bangkok from 16 to 17 November 2007.

The present report contains findings gathered by the Special Rapporteur prior to and during his official mission, with a focus on the current human rights situation, including the human rights implications of the crackdown on demonstrations and the severe reprisals. While covering developments from August until the end of the curfew on 20 October 2007, the report focuses in particular on the tragic events that took place in Myanmar from 26 to 29 September 2007. The report finally contains a number of recommendations by the Special Rapporteur.

Paragraphs Page

Introduction……………………………………………………………..       1-3
SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR……………………………………………………  4-13
SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER 2007………………………… 14-15
INCIDENTS……………………………………………………  16-28
A. The peaceful protests of August 2007………………. 16
B. The Pakokku incident: a turning point………………. 17-25
C. The peaceful protests of September 2007
(18-25 September 2007)……………………………… 26
D. The excessive use of force against peaceful
demonstrators (26-29 September 2007)……………… 7-28
IV. PRELIMINARY FINDINGS……………………………………… 29-62
A. Excessive use of force against civilians, including
use of unnecessary and disproportionate lethal force… 30-38
B. Use of non-law enforcement officials………………… 39-40
C. Arbitrary arrest and detention…………………………. 41-52
D. Disappearances……………………………………….. 53-54
E. Death in custody………………………………………. 55
F. Cruel inhumane and degrading treatment and torture…. 56-57
G. Severe reprisals against peaceful protesters…………… 58-62
VI. CONCLUSION……………………………………………………..69-75
VII. RECOMMENDATIONS……………………………………………76
Annex: Chronology and facts


1. On 15 August 2007, the Government of Myanmar increased the retail price of fuel by up to 500 per cent. This decision has drastically affected the livelihoods of the people of Myanmar. The population, which has seen its standards of living severely curtailed over the last few years, reacted strongly to this decision and started small peaceful demonstrations throughout August and into early September. On 5 September during a demonstration in Pakokku a number of monks were beaten up. The population and the monks, dissatisfied with this action, continued expressing their discontent over economic living conditions and undertook large peaceful demonstrations from 18 to 26 September across the country including in Yangon, Mandalay, Pakokku and Sittwe.

2. From 26 to 29 September, the State and its agents cracked down severely on peaceful demonstrators. Through the lens of the international media, the world witnessed killings, severe beatings and mass arrests of people. During the crackdowns, the security forces comprising police and army or riot police (Lone Htein), as well as members of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) and the Swan Ah Shin (SAS) militia, used excessive force against civilians, including unnecessary and disproportionate lethal force.

3. Following the crackdowns, several reports of killings, severe beatings and arrests were received as well as allegations of torture, deaths in custody, relatives of people in hiding being taken hostage and lack of access to medical treatment for the wounded. Allegations were also received that the bodies of some of the people reportedly killed during the crackdown had been burnt. The Government of Myanmar provided figures that, for many independent observers, may have underestimated the real impact of the repression.


4. The Special Rapporteur undertook a five-day visit to Myanmar, from 11 to 15 November 2007, at the invitation of the Government. He would like to express his gratitude to the Government for its hospitality and for having accommodated his proposed agenda and shared with him several records and written chronologies of the events, as well as providing access to most of the places he had asked for. The Special Rapporteur stresses that his mission cannot be considered as a fully fledged fact-finding mission. The conditions for an independent and confidential investigation mission would require a different framework. In this context, the Special Rapporteur notes that his mission should be seen as an initial part of a process and that the authorities have expressed willingness for him to return on follow-up missions.

5. In the new capital, Nay Pyi Taw, the Special Rapporteur met with Major General Maung Oo, Minister of Home Affairs; U Nyan Win, Minister of Foreign Affairs; U Aung Kyi, Minister of Labour and Liaison Minister with the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD); U Soe Tha, Minister for National Planning and Economic Development; Brigadier General Thura Myint Maung, Minister of Religious Affairs and U Zaw Min, Joint Secretary General of the USDA. He further participated in a round table with 20 members of the newly established Government human rights body. In his annual report to the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur will cover various important thematic issues raised with the authorities, to be further developed during his forthcoming missions to the country.

6. The Special Rapporteur met in the presence of Government officials, with the United Nations resident coordinator and the country team, with over 20 ambassadors and representatives of the diplomatic corps, as well as with representatives of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). He also met with representatives from national ethnic groups and women’s development associations.

7. In Yangon, the Special Rapporteur held consultations with senior officials from, among others, the Ministry of Home Affairs, law enforcement agencies, the Yangon Peace and Development Council and the Yangon General Hospital. He was unfortunately not able to meet with military commanders. The Special Rapporteur also visited the former Government technical college (used during the demonstrations as a detention facility), the No. 7 Police Battalion Control Command Headquarters in Kyauktan, Thanlyin and the Htain Bin crematorium.

8.  During his second visit to the Insein prison, he was authorized to hold one to one meetings with five detainees: Win Tin, the oldest political prisoner who has spent 18 years in prison and for whom the Special Rapporteur is asking, as on previous occasions, for his immediate release; Su Su Nway, a prominent activist who was arrested during the Rapporteur’s visit; Min Zeya and Than Tin (otherwise known as Kyi Than) both “88 Generation” students and Maung Kan, NLD member. The Special Rapporteur had, by letter to the authorities, requested to meet with a list of 21 detainees as well as Su Su Nway and U Gambira, seeking clarification regarding the charges against them.

9. The Special Rapporteur met with senior abbots of the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee (the State Governing Body of the Buddhist Clergy), the Kya Khat Waing Monastery in Bago and the Board of Trustees of the Shwedagon Pagoda. Furthermore, he visited two monasteries (Nan Oo and Ngwe Kyar Yan) where he had discussions about the incidents that occurred during the demonstrations. He was authorized to meet in private with a group from the 92 monks of the Ngwe Kyar Yan monastery who had been transferred to a different location.

10. The Minister for Information and Secretary of the National Convention Convening Commission, Brigadier General Kyaw Hsan, briefed the Special Rapporteur about developments regarding the seven step road map towards democracy. While the first and second steps have completed the fundamental principles and detailed principles adopted by the National Convention in drafting the Constitution, the third step is being implemented by the establishment of the Constitution Drafting Commission. It was noted that the NLD and other ethnically based parties will only be included in step four, when the draft Constitution is to be endorsed by the majority through national referendum. The Minister noted that 50 detailed principles concerning human rights are in conformity with international norms.

11. The Special Rapporteur noted that the Government State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) granted amnesty for 8,552 prisoners, including 33 foreigners, on 3 December to mark the functioning of the Constitution Drafting Commission and the completion of the National Convention. Among them, were only 10 political prisoners according to sources.

12. The Minister of Labour and Liaison Minister with the General Secretary of the NLD made positive reference to the collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) following the signing in 2007 of a memorandum of understanding providing a mechanism to enable victims of forced labour to seek redress. He expected forced labour to be eradicated in the coming months or years. The Minister noted the effect of international sanctions on employment.

13. The Special Rapporteur met with the Women’s Development Association and Women Affairs Federation Secretariat, and discussed their contributions to the country reports due to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Committee on the Rights of the Child. They were not in a position to provide the Special Rapporteur with information on cases of women detained in consequence of and during the manifestations.


14. Since the military coup of 1962, the economy in Myanmar has steadily declined, making it progressively more difficult for people to meet their basic needs. Despite a wealth of natural resources, the country suffers from widespread poverty. A once stable economy has been damaged through decades of misguided economic policies, rampant corruption, cronyism, and disproportionate spending on the military. A significant percentage of the population has seen their livelihoods severely curtailed as a result of human rights violations, including forced labor, arbitrary taxation and extortion, forced relocation and land confiscation.

15. Over the last two years, the Special Rapporteur has received several reports alleging the Government’s involvement in cracking down on several initiatives by people to organize themselves even for non-political purposes, such as social and economic issues. Poor economic conditions have led to a number of demonstrations and arrests since early 2007. Concerns over the economic situation were raised throughout the year, even before the significant increase in the retail price of fuel in August. On 22 February, the Government arrested nine protesters who participated in a peaceful demonstration against the worsening economic and social standards. They were later released without charge on 27 February. More protests and arrests took place between late February and April. Since then, there have been smaller, sporadic protests throughout the country. In June, the media reported that a protester in Rakhine State was held for two days after he staged a one-person demonstration against inflation that drew crowds of onlookers, but was later released. On 1 May, 33 persons were arrested in association with two separate discussions on workers’ rights. While most were subsequently released, six organizers of the discussion at the American Center were charged with sedition, forming an illegal organization and having contact with illegal organizations. Thurein Aung, Wai Lin, Myo Min and Kyaw Win were each sentenced to 28 years imprisonment, while Nyi Nyi Zaw and Kyaw Kyaw each received 20 year sentences. This provides a striking illustration of the climate of repression that prevailed in Myanmar before the peaceful protest of August 2007.

A. The peaceful protests of August 2007

16. On 19 August following the fuel price increases, several dozen people, including prominent “88 Generation” student leaders, marched through Yangon in peaceful protest. Small sporadic and peaceful demonstrations by social and political activists, continued over the following week, despite the arrest of over one hundred people, including almost the entire leadership of the 88 Generation group, the former chairperson of the Burma Labor Solidarity Organization and Human Rights Defenders and Promoters leaders, former political prisoners, university students, members of the NLD and the Myanmar Development Committee. The authorities deployed SAS militia to quickly and forcibly disperse any gatherings of activists.

B. The Pakokku incident: a turning point
17. The fuel hike caused large protests, but it was not until violence was used to quell a protest by Buddhist monks in Pakokku (Magway Division), about 600 kilometers north-west of Yangon, that the situation dramatically escalated. The town is a well-known religious centre in Myanmar, situated in a division that has seen a stark decline in the sustainability of livelihoods over the last decade.
18. On 5 September, a peaceful demonstration of Buddhist monks in Pakokku was forcibly dispersed by the police and the army, as well as SAS militia. A number of live rounds were reportedly fired over the heads of the monks, and members of the militia and the security forces then severely beat a number of monks, some of whom were first tied up. Rumors circulated that one of the monks had subsequently died, but this was never confirmed, though widely believed. The next day, the monks took as hostages a few military officials who went to the monastery, according to some reports, to order the Buddhist monks to stop participating in anti-Government marches, while other reports say they came to apologize to the monks. Vehicles were reportedly burned as the monks were angry over the arrest and beatings of monks during the peaceful protest the day before.

19. On 9 September, a newly-established group called the All Burma Monks Alliance (formed by a number of existing organizations of Buddhist monks in Myanmar) issued a statement containing four demands for the authorities: (a) To apologize for the Pakokku incident; (b) To reduce commodity and fuel prices; (c) To release all political prisoners including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and those detained for recent protests; (d) To enter into a dialogue with democratic forces with a view to achieving national reconciliation and resolving the suffering of the people. The statement indicated that the authorities had until 17 September to comply with these demands or face a religious boycott. This choice of deadline was politically symbolic, since 18 September is the anniversary of the 1988 coup that brought the current military regime to power.

20. As the Government did not respond to these demands, large peaceful demonstrations led by monks started on 18 September, with the participation of civilians in the days that followed. The monks also withdrew their religious services from the military and their families, symbolized by the “overturning of the alms bowl” (known in Pali as “patam-nikkujjana-kamma”), whereby a number of monks participating in the demonstrations carried their alms bowls upside down in an emblematic gesture. This is an especially strong act, as it precludes the military leadership and members of their families from making merit – a very important part of Buddhist spiritual and religious life. Only under the most compelling moral circumstances will a monk refuse alms that have been offered. Under the monks’ code of discipline, the Vinaya Pitaka, the boycott was formally agreed upon and announced in assemblies on 18 September.

21. This is not the first time Buddhist monks have staged demonstrations in Myanmar. Indeed, there is a long tradition of social and political militancy in the monasteries of the country. Several of Myanmar’s anti-colonial revolts were, at least partially, organized and led by the clergy. Monks were again actively involved in the pro-democracy uprising that swept the country in 1988. The then State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) launched a crackdown, monasteries were raided and as many as 300 monks were disrobed and imprisoned.

22. This time, the crucial difference is that the involvement of the monks found its origin in the harsh conditions of living imposed on the people of Myanmar. The worsening standard of living is also adversely affecting the livelihoods of the monks, squeezed between the increased demands of the people and the meagre offers made to them. Monasteries have increasingly been overrun by the desperately poor, who seek shelter and sustenance from the Sanghas, but have had to turn people away because lay contributions cannot sustain the monks and those they would normally take in. The monasteries are the only social safety net that exists for most communities in the country. Although the statements of the All Burma Monks Alliance were explicitly political from the outset, the majority of monks went to some lengths to show that their purpose in taking to the streets was to give expression to the socio-economic hardships that they and the people were facing, rather than the pursuit of any political agenda.

23. Thus, during the first days of the monks’ demonstrations in Yangon after 18 September, the lay population was requested to keep separate from the demonstrations and not to chant political slogans. In addition to reinforcing the message to the authorities that the monks’ actions stemmed from genuine social and religious grievances, it was important to ensure the broadest possible participation of monks, including the apolitical and more conservative elements. Yet, as the protests continued to increase in scale, a group of young activist monks gradually assumed a leadership role on the streets. There was increasing involvement of students, political parties, civil society groups, and the general population in the demonstrations.

24. The scale of the demonstrations and the leadership role of the monks took everyone by surprise. In previous cases, it had been easier for the authorities to justify their actions as being directed not at Buddhist monks per se, but at radical elements who had violated the Buddhist disciplinary code by entering the political realm (“bogus monks”, in the regime’s parlance). While hardly convincing to most, such an explanation does have a certain resonance with conservative abbots and laity, who believe that monks should be completely disconnected from worldly affairs. In the present case, not only was the level of violence and insult against monks and monasteries particularly shocking, the essential grievances expressed by the monks were non-political and very widely shared.

25. For the Government, through the voice of its Minister for Religious Affairs, the root causes of the events of September and October found their origin in the “perpetration of internal and external destructionists, who are jealous of national development and stability, to harm all the Government’s endeavors”. The Minister also referred to “global powers” from outside who dislike the proposed constitution as it contains stipulations on self-determination and prohibits the stationing of foreign troops on Myanmar soil, adding that these powers in collusion with “destructionists” are stirring up the current “disturbances”.  The Minister for National Planning and Economic Development told the Special Rapporteur that fuel prices in Myanmar are still lower than in neighboring countries and that the motive of the fuel price rises was used against the Government for political reasons. A further elaboration of the Government’s view of the protests is contained in the annex.
C. The peaceful protests of September 2007 (18-25 September 2007)

26. From 18 to 25 September the peaceful protests of the monks grew in numbers and spread out across the country including Yangon, Mandalay, Pakokku and Sittwe. While few reports have been received on the demonstrations organized in the provinces, a detailed account of the sequence of events in Yangon from 18 to 25 September was verified through various reliable and independent sources. During this period peaceful protests occurred on a daily basis, growing in numbers, but were not immediately suppressed by the authorities (see annex).
D. The excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators (26-29 September 2007)

27. On September 26, monks and civilians continued to gather in large numbers. The security forces (army and riot police) as well as non law enforcement officials, including USDA members and SAS employed excessive force for the first time since Pakokku using tear gas and smoke grenades, severe beatings with wooden and bamboo sticks, rubber batons and slingshots (catapults), which were followed by the use of rubber bullets and live rounds. According to one eyewitness “shots were fired by the security forces, first in the air, then at the demonstrators”.

28. Testimonies refer to the use of tear gas. Information from eyewitnesses interviewed by an independent source, however, indicates that this was most likely to have been smoke grenades, since the fumes did not cause the usual physiological reactions triggered by tear gas. According to other sources, both were used. Whereas fire brigades were reportedly at the scene, water cannons were not used to disperse the crowd as was done in 1988. Reports from demonstrators and photographs of spent cartridges carried in the media suggest that the rubber bullets used were not the large “baton round” type, but metal ball bearings coated with a layer of rubber, capable of inflicting fatal injuries, particularly at short range (less than 40 meters). There were many arrests, numerous injuries (including of monks and nuns), and several reported deaths (see annex).

29.  As a result of his investigations to date, the Special Rapporteur would like to present the following preliminary findings to the Human Rights Council, recalling that his visit cannot be considered as a full-fledged fact-finding mission, which would require a number of conditions, such as independent access to all places and people, to verify the information collected.
A. Excessive use of force against civilians, including use of unnecessary and disproportionate lethal force

30. The Special Rapporteur found that security forces, including the army and riot police, used excessive force against civilians from 26 to 29 September 2007, in spite of several international appeals calling upon the Government of Myanmar to show restraint in policing the demonstrations. This included the use of live ammunition, rubber bullets, tear gas and smoke grenades, bamboo and wooden sticks, rubber batons and catapults (slingshots). This largely explains the killings and severe injuries that have been reported. Victims included monks, as well as men, women, and children who were either directly participating in the protests or were on-lookers in the vicinity. In some cases these beatings were administered indiscriminately, while in other cases the authorities deliberately targeted individuals, chasing them down to beat them. At least one demonstrator, Ko Ko Win, an NLD member, died as a result of injuries sustained when he was beaten near Sule Pagoda in Yangon on 27 September. Allegations of targeted killings and the use of snipers were also received but not yet verified.

31. In a letter dated 1 November 2007, the Special Rapporteur requested from the Government of Myanmar a list of the people who died. The Government has acknowledged the death of 15 people during the demonstrations and provided full details as to the causes of death. However several reports of killings indicate that the figure provided by the authorities may greatly underestimate the reality. To date the Special Rapporteur has received information regarding the killing of 16 additional persons as a result of the crackdown on the demonstrations in September and October, in addition to the 15 individuals included in the information provided by the Government. The Special Rapporteur has transmitted this information to the Government for clarification.

32. According to information received and based on credible eye-witness reports, there were more than 30 fatalities in Yangon associated with the protests on 26-27 September 2007, primarily on 27 September and in the vicinity of Sule Pagoda. No deaths were reported during the demonstrations outside Yangon. According to diplomats more than 500 protestors remain in detention in Yangon, Mandalay, Sittwe, Mytkyina, and Mawlamyine.

33. Among those killed by the security forces during the demonstrations was the Japanese photo-journalist, Kenji Nagai. The TV footage of the killing of Mr. Nagai raises the possibility that he may have been deliberately targeted from a short distance rather than caught in cross-fire between the security forces. While the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Agency conducted an autopsy on Mr. Nagai’s body on 4 October at Kyorin University (Mitaka City, Tokyo),  his post-mortem certificate was also provided to the Special Rapporteur by the Htain Bin crematorium.

34. During his visit to the Htain Bin crematorium, the Special Rapporteur was informed by the authorities that during the disturbances in September, the Yangon General Hospital transferred 14 dead corpses, with the relevant burial certificates, to the crematorium. These were consequently registered and cremated accordingly. The hospital certified 11 deaths due to injuries (mostly firearms), two deaths due to illness and one death due to drowning. The Crematorium was not able to identify three corpses. The families and relatives of the identified bodies were reportedly able to participate in the cremations. The non-identified corpses were cremated on 1 October. It was noted that 25 persons are cremated on a daily basis at this crematorium and that corpses were only received from the General Hospital. While the Special Rapporteur was informed that there were no monks among the 14 corpses, the pictures did not provide sufficient indications to confirm this. Pictures and burial certificates from the register were shared with the Special Rapporteur.

35. Despite his request, the Special Rapporteur, was not given access to the second crematorium in Yangon, the Ye Way crematorium under the control of the Police Controller and Central Department, where credible sources report a large number of bodies (wrapped in plastic and rice bags) were burned during the night, between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m., on 27-30 September. Sources indicate that it was not usual practice for the crematorium to operate during the hours in question, that normal employees were instructed to keep away, and that the facility was operated on those nights by State security personnel or State-supported groups. At least one report indicates that some of the deceased being cremated had shaved heads and some had signs of serious injuries. The Special Rapporteur has expressed his concerns to the Government regarding these allegations and hopes that future investigations will shed light on these alleged cremations during the nights of the incidents in Yangon. The remains of the deceased should be returned to families or relatives in order to enable them to give their dead proper funerals in accordance with their religion and belief.

36. The Special Rapporteur asked officials from the General Hospital how many demonstrators were wounded, following allegations that they were only treated in the public hospital. The General Hospital recorded 30 admissions in Yangon, of which 23 were accidents and emergencies. According to the list, provided to the Special Rapporteur following clearance from the capital, the patients suffered injuries due to gunshots and assaults, among others. The Special Rapporteur enquired whether the wounded were detained. Once received in the emergency ward and after being sent to the general surgery wards, some were discharged. The information was also provided to the security forces who interviewed the patients at the hospital.

37. The use of lethal force by law enforcement officials from 26 to 29 September 2007 in Myanmar was inconsistent with the fundamental principles reflected in the basic international norms deriving from international customary law . They ignored the principles of necessity and proportionality which are included in article 3 of the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and its commentary. Article 3 states that: “Law enforcement officials may use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty.” The commentary appended to this provision explains that “in no case should this provision be interpreted to authorize the use of force which is disproportionate to the legitimate objective to be achieved”. Similarly, the in the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, the most general statement on the use of lethal force, principle 9, provides that: “In any event, intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.” Whereas the Myanmar Code of Criminal Procedure provides for the use of civil force (article 128) and military force (article 129) to disperse an assembly, it also provides for the use of as little force as is consistent with dispersing an assembly, in order to avoid “injury to person and property” (article 130). From 26 to 29 September, the security forces without doubt exceeded the limits of the power conferred on them by the law.

38. The Special Rapporteur found that whereas the Government and its agents showed some diligence in preventing a massacre, the decision by the security forces to shoot to kill and to severely beat protesters causing death constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of life and violates the right to life, as the lethal force used was unnecessary and disproportionate.
B. The use of non law enforcement officials

39.   The Special Rapporteur considers that the participation of USDA members and SAS militia largely contributed to the excessive use of force against the peaceful protesters. It is unfortunate that the Myanmar Code of Criminal Procedure provides for the use by the authorities of civil forces to disperse assemblies (article 128). In addition to Government soldiers and riot police, members of the Government-backed USDA and Swan Ah Shin (SAS) militia took violent action against the protesters with Government acquiescence or approval. Whether this group acted on direct Government orders is not clear. There is evidence that the Myanmar authorities have been complicit in the abuses perpetrated by these groups, or negligent in failing to intervene, punish or prevent them.

40. The USDA was established by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) in 1993 and in 2006 announced its intention to become a political party and field candidates in the next election. The Special Rapporteur expressed concerns in his previous reports over various allegations of involvement by members of USDA in acts of political and criminal violence. The  existence of the SAS was first reported in 2003 when they were allegedly involved in the tragic incident of Depayin . According to sources, the SAS was reportedly already involved in incidents in 1997. The SAS, which has no legal status, is a grassroots force composed of civilians who reportedly assist the authorities in providing law enforcement, paramilitary services and military intelligence without being on the payroll of the Government. It includes members of the fire brigades, first aid organizations, women’s organizations and USDA, as well as criminals/convicts released from jails, members of local gangs and the very poor and unemployed.
C. Arbitrary arrest and detention

41. From 18 September to the end of the curfew on 20 October, people were arrested on a daily basis with massive numbers of arrests on 26, 27, 28 and 29 September. It should be stressed that since the lifting of the curfew on 20 October, the Special Rapporteur continues to receive reports alleging the arrests of people, as well as further releases. After reviewing various reports and testimonies, it is estimated that between 3,000 and 4,000 people were arrested in September and October, and between 500 and 1,000 are still detained at the time of writing. In addition, 1,150 political prisoners held prior to the protests have not been released. Most of the arrests took place during the crackdown on the demonstrations and the night raids carried out by the security forces and non law enforcement officials (USDA and SAS). The analysis of several credible reports has strengthened the Special Rapporteurs’s view that relatives of people in hiding have also been taken as hostages during the raids. In the context of the preparation of his visit, in a letter dated 1 November 2007 to the Government, the Special Rapporteur requested the lists of people arrested, those released and the persons who are still detained, including information on their whereabouts, their detention conditions and the charges for their detention. He further asked under which law they were kept in custody.

42. The Minister of Home Affairs informed the Special Rapporteur that 2,927 persons have been arrested for investigation since the start of the crackdown in September 2007, with 2,836 having been released, and 91 remaining in detention. Most of them are detained on charges under the criminal code for terrorism while others are still under investigation. At least 15 individuals arrested in relation to the peaceful protests since August have been sentenced to prison terms of up to 9.5 years. Five of these individuals were reportedly tried in proceedings likely to have been closed and grossly flawed, in a court inside Thayet prison, Magway division on 24 and 26 September according to reliable sources. It should be noted that the Special Rapporteur has not been able verify the figures collected.

43. The Special Rapporteur is particularly concerned about the numerous accounts of the use of large capacity informal detention centres, unacknowledged by State authorities, which are regarded as ‘secret’ facilities. Detainees have included children and pregnant women. According to various reports, people have been held in six places of detention, including Government Technology Institute (GTI) in Insein Township, Police Centre No 7 in Thanyin Township, Aung Tha Paye in Mayangone Township, Riot Police No 5 in Hmawbe Township, Plate Myot Police Centre in Mandalay and Kyaik Ka San Interrogation Centre in Tamwe Township. Since many people have been released, it is believed that the remaining detainees are kept in custody in a few places of detention, including GTI and Police Centre No. 7, locations that the Special Rapporteur visited during his official mission.

44. During his visit to GTI the Special Rapporteur was informed by the police that from 27 September to 15 October, security forces took 1,930 demonstrators there (under responsibility of the Yangon Community since July 2007) out of which 80 persons were sent to Insein prison as violators of the security laws. The others were reportedly immediately released. He was presented with a detailed map indicating the detention rooms (women and men were separated) which he visited. He was informed that GTI, which is no longer a technical college, was planned as a shelter in case of emergency (in coordination with the Red Cross of Myanmar). While GTI could only host 1,500 persons at a time, Government officials informed him that 2,500 blankets were made available;.. 488 persons had reportedly been sick under the responsibility of 5 doctors and 15 nurses; and five persons were transferred to the General Hospital for urgent treatment. The Special Rapporteur visited the rooms where 153 women and 140 men had been detained (70 per room). One hundred police officers had ensured security. The Special Rapporteur was told information on the injuries and investigations of the detainees was classified.

45. The Special Rapporteur also welcomed the access provided to No. 7 Police Battalion Control Command Headquarters in Kyauktan, Thanlyin, located around 60 km from Yangon. It was reported that those brought here were being moved in and out, as it had a maximum capacity of 30 at a time. The facility is under the control of the Security Force Battalion of Southern District Township, their main activity being VIP escort for embassies, security in Nay Pyi Taw and working along the border areas. The Special Rapporteur asked about their participation in law enforcement activities, to which they noted that they were responsible for receiving those detainees sent by other security forces. He further asked why the suspects were brought to such an isolated and remote area, in response to which he was told that the facility covers Yangon downtown area. The authorities noted that those involved in the demonstrations were to be separated, interrogated and investigated. When asked by whom the detainees were interrogated the authorities noted that this was not a place for interrogations, but only investigations. There were reportedly no wounded and all the people brought to Kyauktan had been transferred back, although it was not specified where. Despite his request, the Special Rapporteur was not granted access to the records, which were to be cleared by the Minister for Home Affairs and Police Chief.

46. The Special Rapporteur was informed that 10,000 prisoners are detained in Insein prison, managed by 500 guards, with 70 detainees reportedly placed in a separate building. Prisoners do receive visits from friends and family members, medicine, parcels and newspapers but are only allowed to write letters. Most prisoners need medical care and are in poor health due to the prison environment. Many of the 88 Generation Students are weak and can barely walk. The Special Rapporteur noted that most political prisoners from the NLD and the 88 Generation Group, as well as the monks, are labelled as terrorists by the authorities and had been prosecuted on the basis of the security law. Many political prisoners are in the so-called Insein Annex Dormitory 5 Building where not even prison guards are allegedly allowed access (70 detainees are in cell No. 8). The Special Rapporteur was provided with commercial satellite pictures of the place. Min Ko Naing was reportedly placed in the Annex a day before the Special Rapporteur’s arrival at the Insein prison. Others in this dormitory are Htay Kywe, Min Zeya,  Mie Mie, Mya Aye, Aung Thu, Ko Ko Gyi, Aung Naing, U Pyi Kyaw and U Zin Payit.

47. Credible sources report that detainees were held in degrading conditions in a special punishment area of Insein prison, commonly known as the ‘military dog cells’, a compound of nine tiny isolation cells measuring two meters by two meters constantly guarded by a troop of 30 dogs. The cells lack ventilation or toilets, and the detainees (mostly political prisoners) have to sleep on a thin mat on the concrete floor and are only allowed to bathe with cold water once every three days for five minutes. A recently released detainee testified that he was made to kneel bare-legged on broken bricks and also made to stand on tiptoe for long periods. Further reports confirm that monks held in detention were disrobed and intentionally fed in the afternoon, a time during which they are religiously forbidden from eating.

48. State security groups have continued to search for and detain specific individuals suspected of involvement in the anti-Government protests primarily through night raids on homes. It has also been confirmed that the authorities have resorted to arbitrary and unlawful detention of family members or close friends and suspected sympathizers of protesters currently in hiding. This constitutes hostage taking – explicit or implicit pressure on the suspected protestors to come forward as a condition for releasing or not harming the hostage. It is a violation of fundamental rules of international law. For example, before Thet Thet Aung was detained on 19 October, her mother and mother-in-law, otherwise unwanted by the authorities, were arbitrarily detained by Myanmar authorities seemingly to intimidate and pressure Thet Thet Aung to come forward. Both have since been released, though her mother was kept in detention until 2 November. Similarly, before poet Ko Nyein Thit was detained by Myanmar authorities, his wife, Khin Mar Lar, was taken into custody on 1 October and not released until 21 October. When Di Nyein Lin evaded arrest on 12 October, the owner of the house in which he was hiding, Thein Aye, was arbitrarily arrested. Di Nyein Lin was arrested on 23 October, and Thein Aye remains in custody.

49. The Special Rapporteur received allegations indicating that 106 women, including six nuns, are being held in custody in Yangon after being arrested in connection with September’s demonstrations and would like to praise the more than 25 women activists who paraded through downtown Yangon on 26 November in the first public display of opposition to the military regime since the September crackdown, in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The group, which included housewives and students, marched from the Sule Pagoda to the Botataung pagoda, where they prayed for the monks and other protesters who died in the September demonstrations and for the release of detainees. The women were shadowed by members of the Government-backed USDA and the paramilitary SAS, but they did not intervene.

50. On 20 November, a week after the Special Rapporteur’s visit and call for the release of all political prisoners in accordance with his proposed plan of action in his last report to the General Assembly (A/62/223), 58 prisoners had been released on humanitarian grounds, according to a statement by the Government. It said that nine men over the age of 65, and 49 women, either pregnant or with children, were set free. It did not say if they were political prisoners and made no mention of pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. “The Government will continue to release those that will cause no harm to the community nor threaten the existing peace, stability and the unity of the nation as the country goes through a steady evolution towards a democracy,” the statement said.

51. The Special Rapporteur condemns, however, the new arrests of political activists, despite the commitment by Prime Minister Thein Sein to the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, in early November that no more arrests would be carried out. Credible reports confirm that the following arrests have occurred since early November: U Gambira, head of the All-Burma Monks Alliance and a leader of the September protests, his father, Min Lwin and brother, Aung Kyaw Kyaw who were previously detained as hostages in an attempt to force him out of hiding; Su Su Nway, a member of the youth wing of the NLD and fellow youth activist Bo Bo Win Hlaing. Authorities raided a monastery in western Rakhine State, and arrested monk U Than Rama, wanted for his involvement in the September protests, whose whereabouts remain unknown. Myint Naing, a senior member of the NLD was detained. Ethnic Arakanese leader U Tin Ohn was detained and his whereabouts remain unknown. Other ethnic leaders, including Arakanese Cin Sian Thang and U Aye Thar Aung, Naing Ngwe Thein from the Mon National Democracy Front, and Kachin political leader U Hkun Htoo were rounded up but released after questioning. Aung Zaw Oo, a member of the Human Rights Defenders and Promoters group, was arrested in Yangon, likely on account of his involvement in planning events for International Human Rights Day on 10 December. Three further persons were arrested, Win Maw, lead guitarist in the popular Shwe Thansin band, Myat San, a member of the Tri-Colour Students Group and Aung Aung, a friend of the two above. Moreover, 8 members of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) were arrested in Daw Hpum Yang, Momauk Township, Bamaw District. It is believed that this was on account of the KIO’s refusal to accede to the SPDC’s demand that they publicly renounce the recent statements by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, made public by the Special Adviser, Mr. Gambari.  

52. The Special Rapporteur is therefore urgently calling on the Government of Myanmar to release all those detained or imprisoned merely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression, assembly and association, including both long-term and recent prisoners of conscience, as well as in the context of the peaceful demonstrations, and to stop making further arrests. He notes with grave concern the long-standing use of arbitrary detention by the authorities against prisoners of conscience including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, U Win Tin, and senior opposition figures from ethnic minority groups, such as U Khun Htun Oo. It has been confirmed that the release of many detainees to date has been conditional on their signing an agreement to refrain from further political activity.
D. Disappearances

53. In the course of his investigation to date, the Special Rapporteur is aware of at least 74 cases of enforced disappearance, where the Myanmar authorities are either unable or unwilling to account for the whereabouts of individuals where there are reasonable grounds to believe that they have been taken into custody by State agents. The figures provided by different sources may underestimate the reality, as not all family members reported missing persons, fearing reprisals and severe punishment. The Special Rapporteur engaged in a dialogue with the authorities during his mission, requesting them to disclose information about the fate and whereabouts of the persons concerned. The authorities only partially met with his requirements.

54. The allegation of the burning of a large amount of bodies documented earlier is very disturbing. Without expressing at this stage an opinion on the accuracy of these reports, careful attention should be given to this allegation as it may explain why the Government has not been able, so far, to provide information on the whereabouts of a number of detainees and missing persons. It may also explain the numerous reports received about the removal of dead bodies by the security forces during the crackdowns and night raids on some monasteries.

E. Death in custody

55. According to credible reports received from an independent source, one monk who was in the GTI detention centre from 27 September to 5 October reported that around 14 individuals died during that period in custody, including eight monks and one young boy who died on the first day. According to the monk, who was held in one cell with hundreds of people, the deaths were due more to the poor conditions of detention than injuries sustained during the crackdown. The NLD member Win Shwe, who was arrested on 26 September near Mandalay reportedly died during questioning in Plate Myot Police Centre on 9 October. His body was not returned to his family. Likewise, Venerable U Thilavantha, Deputy Abbot of the Yuzana Kyaungthai monastery in Myitkyina, was allegedly beaten to death in detention on 26 September, having also been beaten the night before when his monastery was raided.

F. Cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and torture

56. Increasing reports from people who have been released describe degrading conditions of detention and the practice of torture. The Special Rapporteur’s general impression is that the detainees are undergoing harsh conditions during the interrogation phase, lasting from four to eight days, undertaken at separate locations from the places of detention (such as the Tax Commission Office and the Ministry of Home Affairs in Yangon). Many interrogations are conducted with the detainees handcuffed, and they sleep on cold and wet floors. Food and drink are provided depending upon the answers given by the detainees. Some prisoners are kept in isolation, with only one hour for exercise in each of the morning and the afternoon (during the Special Rapporteur’s visit these times were extended by half an hour).

57. The practice of torture in Myanmar has been documented by various observers, including by the Special Rapporteur for the last seven years. Experience shows that political activists and human rights defenders have been particularly targeted during their arrest, interrogation and detention. Reports have confirmed appalling detention conditions which fail to meet international standards on the treatment of prisoners and in fact constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment prohibited under international law. Since the crackdown there have been an increasing number of reports of death in custody as well as beatings, ill-treatment, lack of food, water or medical treatment in overcrowded unsanitary detention facilities across the country. Provision of basic necessities, including food, water, blankets, and access to sleeping space and sanitary facilities has been lacking.
G. Severe reprisals against peaceful protesters

58. In his last report to the General Assembly (A/62/223), the Special Rapporteur gave special attention to sustained practices of restriction on the right to freedom of expression, the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of movement. The events of September and October 2007 represent another manifestation of the severe methods of persecution and harassment that prevail in Myanmar. From 26 September to 20 October, the ban on gatherings (five people or more) enshrined in the Myanmar law was strictly applied and a curfew severely restricted the freedom of movement of people, lending a hand to the security forces for the conduct of night raids.

59. Night raids have been reportedly committed during curfew hours. On September 26, overnight, the security forces arrested Myint Thein, the spokesman for opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party. Relatives of people in hiding are reportedly taken hostage during these raids. The reduced curfew hours decided on 2 October have had no impact on the incidents which are reportedly committed between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m.

60. From 26 September to 6 October, the security forces reportedly raided 52 monasteries across the country, looting the possessions of monks and beating and arresting them in large numbers. Allegations of killings were also received. Early on Thursday 27 September at 12.30 a.m., security forces raided the Ngwe Kyar Yan monastery, a famous Buddhist teaching centre in Yangon (South Okkalapa Township), where they allegedly opened fire, physically assaulted and arrested an estimated 70 monks. Pictures taken at the scene after the curfew show blood spattering at different locations in the monastery and destruction of property, including gates, windows and other furniture. The pictures also suggest looting, which has been alleged by various sources, including direct testimonies. According to unconfirmed reports, some of the monks left after the violent raid, reported several arrests and the removal of dead bodies of several monks allegedly beaten to death by the security forces. Ngwe Kyar Yan was the site later this same day of a huge confrontation between security forces and civilians. There were rings of soldiers and civilians around the monastery from late afternoon until the evening, with shots heard.

61. The Special Rapporteur was taken to the empty Ngwe Kyar Yan monastery, without being able to enter. The authorities showed him pictures of items (weapons, defamatory signs, gambling and pornographic images) reportedly found in the monastery. The total number of monks initially staying at the monastery was between 180 and 200. He was informed that 92 monks were moved on 27 September to another monastery under the State’s responsibility, though not detained. He was able to engage in a closed meeting with ten of these 92 remaining monks on the last day of his visit. The Special Rapporteur is concerned regarding the whereabouts of the remaining monks, who according to the authorities had absconded and returned to their families (allegedly dismissed for their conduct, according to the monks’ disciplinary rules requiring permission from the head monk to leave the monastery). The Special Rapporteur noted that he will return to visit the monks on his follow-up mission.

62. The authorities announced that, as of 5 October, it had detained 533 monks, of whom 398 were released after sorting out what they called real monks from bogus ones. Twenty-one monks are reportedly detained in Insein prison. Reliable sources believe, however, that many more were detained or disappeared. Many young monks who used to study Buddhist literature have not dared to come back to Yangon, as the monasteries are still under surveillance by the authorities and vacant ones have been occupied by USDA members who immediately became trustees after the crackdown. There have been surprise checks in monasteries subjected to scrutiny by local authorities. On 29 November, monks assisting HIV/AIDS patients were forced by the military to leave the Maggin Monastery which was sealed off by the authorities.

63. The State and its agents had several opportunities to engage in a dialogue with the peaceful protesters to seek a peaceful resolution of the dispute. Instead of considering the best available options to contain the protests and despite several international appeals, the State and its agents chose to implement a repressive action. The State and its agents should have sought to identify and address the underlying causes of the peaceful demonstrations before using force to disperse the protesters. As a last resort, the use of force should have not exceeded the limits defined by internationally agreed standards for policing demonstrations.

64. Whereas it is difficult to clearly identify at this stage of the inquiry the chain of command that led to the tragic events of September and October 2007, the Special Rapporteur found that the Government had knowledge that severe human rights abuses would be likely to take place and failed to prevent these abuses by not using all available options and not exercising restraint in policing the demonstrations. He further found that the crackdown on demonstrations was not a policing but a military response. The Special Rapporteur noted that the excessive use of force, including lethal force was unnecessary and disproportionate. He also found that a ruthless campaign of reprisals took place, targeting monks, nuns, political activists, human rights defenders and other individuals who organized or participated in the peaceful demonstrations, as well as their family members.

65. In its announcement No. 1/2007 of 4 October 2007, the SPDC Information Committee stressed that the politicization by political parties and other organizations of the demands made by the monks created unrest.  The view that the peaceful demonstrations of last August and September are at the origin of the unrest is difficult to accept in the light of the sequence of events. It seems more accurate to say that a state of violent disturbance and disorder erupted as the result of the use of excessive force by the State and its agents. It is recognized that serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law entail individual criminal responsibility. Since it failed to prevent these grave violations, it is now the responsibility of the Government to thoroughly investigate these grave violations of human rights, prosecute those responsible for their perpetration and, if their guilt is established, punish them.

66. According to a credible source, in addition to the riot police battalions, the following army forces are believed to have taken part in the crackdown on demonstrations in Yangon under the Bureau of Special Operations Number Five that supervises the Yangon Military Command and the units operating within it:

i) Bureau of Special Operations Number Five (Commander: Lieutenant General Myint Swe);
ii) Rangoon Command (Commander: Major General Hla Htay Win, Deputy Commander: Brigadier General Kyaw Kyaw Tun, No. 1 Military Garrison Unit Commander: Brigadier General Myint Soe, No. 2 Military Garrison Unit Commander: Colonel Tin Tun, No. 3 Military Garrison Unit Commander: Colonel Hla Aye);
iii) 11th Light Infantry Division (Commander: Brigadier General Hla Min, No. 111 Tactical Commander: Colonel Myat Thu, No. 112 Tactical Commander: Colonel Htein Lin, No. 113 Tactical Commander: Lt. Colonel Tun Hla Aung);
iv) 66th Light Infantry Division (Commander: Colonel Maung Maung Aye, No. 661 Tactical Commander: Colonel Htwe Hla, No. 662 Tactical Commander: Unknown, No. 663 Tactical Commander:  Colonel Han Nyunt); and
v) 77th Light Infantry Division (Commander: Brigadier General Win Myint, No. 771 Tactical Commander: Lt. Colonel Mya Win).

67. Despite his request, the Special Rapporteur was unfortunately not able to meet with the military commanders involved in the crackdowns. Further inquiry needs to be made to verify the above allegations through different sources and identify the army forces and commands involved in the crackdown in other parts of the country, including Mandalay, Pakokku and Sittwe. The Special Rapporteur would be grateful if the authorities could provide him with data regarding the deployment of security forces under the authority of military commanders (time, location, number of security forces), the type of arms the security forces were equipped with, the orders the military commanders received and from whom, in particular came the order to fire with live ammunition.

68. At the time of writing, the Special Rapporteur has not received assurances from the Government of Myanmar that those responsible for human rights violations will stand trial and that victims will obtain reparations.


69. The Special Rapporteur has shared this report and a list of names of 653 persons detained, 74 persons disappeared and 16 killed (in addition to the list of 15 dead provided by the authorities), with the Government of Myanmar for comments. The list contains only those incidents where the names of the people involved are cited. There are a number of incidents where no names were reported but where there were allegations of groups of people reportedly killed which have also been shared. This list will be updated on a regular basis and used as the basis for an ongoing dialogue with the authorities.

70. The Special Rapporteur expresses his hopes for positive change from Myanmar’s engagement with its international and regional counterparts, in particular through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Charter, signed by Myanmar, which includes a firm commitment to international human rights and humanitarian principles and pledges to set up a dedicated ASEAN human rights body. The Special Rapporteur would further like to re-emphasize a strong call for the authorities to re-engage with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in providing free access to detention centres.

71. The incidents reported demonstrate the vulnerability of the economic and social foundations of Myanmar’s society. It shows that the right to freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly have yet to be fully guaranteed and the tremendous challenges faced by Myanmar in ensuring the rule of law by holding accountable the perpetrators of serious criminal acts documented in this report. It further reveals the urgent need to repeal or amend old laws and regulations in accordance with international human rights standards, and to reconsider the participation of the army and non law enforcement officials in policing demonstrations.

72. Moreover, the events represent a compelling example of the indivisibility of human rights. Decades of denial of basic civil and political rights have compromised the standard of living of the population. By severely restricting the right to freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly, the Government has prevented over many years the emergence of a platform for genuine public dialogue, where people could share their concerns over their increasing lack of access to job opportunities and basic social services, including health and food.

73. In that context, the decision by the Government to authorize the Special Rapporteur to visit Myanmar should be praised. By allowing the Special Rapporteur to conduct an official visit, the Government has re-engaged in a dialogue with the United Nations human rights mechanisms and allowed an inquiry into the events of September and October 2007. The Special Rapporteur hopes the authorities will provide him with the further information requested regarding the whereabouts of the detained, the conditions of their detention, numbers of released people and the causes of death. The Government provided him with a number of detailed records that responded partially to his requests. He will continue to liaise with the Government on the matter.

74. The Special Rapporteur, however, did not find significant signs that the Government is implementing the substantive demands as set out in Human Rights Council resolution       S-5/1, operative paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 urging the Government of Myanmar inter alia to:

“ensure full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and to investigate and bring to justice perpetrators of human rights violations, including the recent violations of the rights of peaceful protestors;”
“release without delay those arrested and detained as a result of the recent repression of peaceful protests, as well as to release all political detainees in Myanmar, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and to ensure that conditions of detention meet international standards and include the possibility of visiting any detainee;”
“lift all restraints on peaceful political activity of all persons by, inter alia, guaranteeing freedom of peaceful assembly and association and freedom of opinion and expression, including for free and independent media, and to ensure unhindered access to media information for the people of Myanmar.”

75. The Special Rapporteur regrets that he was unable to meet with the General Secretary of the NLD, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi which would have benefitted the independence of his investigations, but was reassured by the authorities that this option will remain on the agenda of his follow-up missions. The Special Rapporteur recognizes the need for close coordination with the good offices of the Secretary-General and is in regular contact with Mr. Ibrahim Gambari on the matter.

76. In light of the objectives of his mission to Myanmar, and of recommendations already made in his previous reports, the Special Rapporteur suggests a number of immediate and transitional measures to be addressed to the Government of Myanmar.
Immediate measures:

(i) To secure the physical and psychological integrity of all persons who are kept into custody;
(ii) To reveal the whereabouts of people who are still detained or missing;
(iii) To return the remains of the deceased to families or relatives in order to enable them to give their dead proper funerals in accordance with their religion and belief;
(iv) To ensure immediate access by the ICRC and other independent humanitarian personnel to all detainees;
(v) To release unconditionally all persons who have been taken into custody for peaceful assembly or the peaceful expression of their political beliefs;
(vi) To grant an unconditional amnesty to people who have been already sentenced, and to drop charges against those who are in the process of being prosecuted;
(vii) To conduct an independent and thorough investigation into the killings, severe beatings, hostage taking, torture and disappearances;
(viii) To ban militia as an illegal group in accordance with the law of Myanmar;
(ix) To bring the perpetrators of human rights violations to justice and to provide the victims and their families with effective remedies;
(x) To effectively engage in a constructive and sustainable dialogue with the Human Rights Council and its special procedures, especially the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar;
(xi) To agree with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar on the terms of reference and dates for his next visit to the country;
(xii) To invite an international commission of inquiry or fact-finding mission to investigate in a more comprehensive manner the recent events.
Transitional measures:

(xiii) To develop an effective channel for follow-up communications and cooperation with the Special Rapporteur and provide him and his support team with regular access to the country;
(xiv) To consider the implementation of the plan of action for the release of all political prisoners as suggested by the Special Rapporteur in his last report to the General Assembly (A/62/223);
(xv) To pursue the dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi through the Minister of Labour and Liaison Minister;
(xvi) To repeal or amend old laws and regulations in relation to the right to peaceful assembly, the right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom of movement and all matters related to criminal and penal procedures and prison regulations;
(xvii) Within the context of the National Convention and recent crisis, seek technical assistance to repeal or amend the penal code and code of criminal procedure and to review the rules that govern the policing of demonstrations.

– – – – –

Chronology and facts : the peaceful protests of September 2007 (18-25 September 2007)

On 18 September, monks gathered at 9 am at the Shwedagon Pagoda to prepare the demonstration. At 1 pm a group of about 300 monks gathered at the southern stairway. The access to stairway was blocked by burly plain-clothed unarmed individuals who formed a cordon. The monks, after hesitating, marched instead to the downtown Sule Pagoda, then Botahtaung Pagoda, gathering several hundred lay followers as they went. Similar marches were held on subsequent days, gaining momentum every day despite torrential monsoon rains. One monk at the front of the procession held an upturned alms bowl, a symbol of religious boycott. There was no visible uniformed security presence, although plain-clothes personnel photographed and videoed the marchers. However, over the weekend of 22–23 September, the nature of the demonstrations shifted, becoming much larger in scale and more overtly political, thus posing a level of challenge to the regime that it must have found impossible to ignore. A highly symbolic moment in this regard occurred on 22 September, when a group of protesters were permitted to pass a police checkpoint and pass by the house of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who briefly appeared at her gate to greet them. By 24 September, the demonstrations in Yangon involved thousands of people led by monks. The same day, monks, nuns and students reportedly staged the largest demonstration so far in Sittwe (Rakhine state) demanding a reduction in essential commodities prices.

The general population in Yangon was becoming more defiant, increasingly taking part in the demonstrations rather than watching the monks or escorting them. Students, prominent political actors (from NLD and the ethnic political parties represented in the Committee Representing People’s Parliament) and well-known personalities (actors, artists, writers) were joining the demonstrations, in some cases carrying red “fighting peacock” flags, a symbol of resistance. Comedian and former political prisoner Zaganar the movie star Kyaw Thu, and independent politician U Win Naing publicly offered food and drink to the monks before they started their march from Shwedagon. That evening, in the first reaction to the week of monk-led demonstrations, the authorities announced on television that further demonstrations would not be tolerated, and that action would be taken “according to the law”. A statement by the Minister for Religious Affairs was carried on state television. No details were given concerning which laws he was referring to, but para. (b) of Order 2/88 of 18 September 1988 prohibits unauthorized public assembly of five or more persons (it should be noted that other provisions of Order 2/88 have been abrogated); and Order 6/90 of 20 October 1990 bans all unlawful Sangha (Buddhist monk) organizations, except the nine legal Buddhist sects. A number of other laws prohibit criticism of the Government or otherwise curtail freedom of expression.

In his discussions with senior officials in Yangon, the Special Rapporteur asked why the Government had decided to “take effective action” at this stage of the demonstrations and what was the legal basis of the ban on gathering. He further enquired on whether the Government tried to engage in a dialogue with the monks after the incident of the 5 September in Pakokku and whether it tried to give consideration to the demands by the monks on 9 September. He asked whether the chain of command for law enforcement came from the police or in coordination with other sectors of the military, what was the role and connection of the Specific Operation N° 5, the participation of security forces, the number of police and other persons involved in the operations, arms authorized, and whether orders were given to fire with live ammunition and rubber bullets, and use smoke bombs, tear gas and water canons.

The Yangon Division Commissioner, U Hla Soe acknowledged that “the monk strike was due to the world increase of the price of petroleum which affected the change of fuel price in Myanmar on 15 August 2007. This was taken advantage of by the monks in Pakkoku to organize strikes and terrorism. Both internal and external anti-government organizations expanded the strike with the help of the media, persuading peaceful monks to go on strike, presenting a difficult solution for the authorities in a majority-Buddhist-living country and generating further opposition to the Government. According to the Commissioner the monk demonstration in Yangon began on 18 September when 150 monks assembled at Theinbyu Street in Botahtaung Township and marched to the East gate of Shwedagon Pagoda. Because of the prohibition of Divisional and Township Sangha Nayaka abbots, the marching monks made prayers in front of the Bronze Buddha Image at Yedashe junction and marched to Sule Pagoda from where to Botahtaung Pagoda and Pazundaung Market. On the same day 19 monks gathered and made the strike at Thingangyun Kyatkasan Pagoda. On 19 September, 120 monks from Ahlone Township and 97 monks from South Okkalapa Nswe Kya Yan monastery assembled at Yankin Moegaung pagoda Compound and 30 monks at Mayangon Kaba Aye Pagoda did the same. Out of 150 monks in front of the Bronze Buddha Image at Bahan, some marched to Tamwe Shwe Baho Cinema Hall and some to Sule Pagoda and dispersed at Theinbyu Street”.

The Commissioner noted that “on 20 September 300 monks near the Bronze Buddha Image, East of Shwedagon Pagoda marched to Sule and Botahtaung Direction. Similarly 200 monks from South Dagon Township, 300 monks from South Okkalapa Ngwe Kya Yan monastery, 50 monks from Hlegu Township, 50 monks from Kon Chan Gon Township and 50 monks from Khayan Township marched through the town. On 21 September 540 monks from Ngwe Kya Yan monastery marched from Shwedagon Pagoda to Sule and Botahtaung Direction, 200 monks from North New Dagon Township, 15 monks from South Okkalapa Pagoda and Moengaung Pagoda, 70 monks from Than Lyan Township and 20 monks from Khayan Township marched about the township. After the 22 September strike the number of people increased in which the 88 Generation Student Group and anti-political party members persuaded the people and the roadside to join them on strike. Out of 45 Townships in Yangon Division, strike occurred in 36 Townships, sparing 9 Townships. The strike was mostly concentrated in a busy street in downtown of Yangon. The monk strike comprised 15,000 monks and 15,000 people which are beyond the estimate due to the majority of spectators which were peaceful at first, and later got involved by the political demon and terrorism”.

The Special Rapporteur was informed by the authorities that “buses and taxis were stopped and the passengers were emptied while the drivers were forced to take the striking monks to the Shwedagon and Sule Pagodas. At Tamwe Township, car owners were forced to drive the monks to the Pagodas under threats of burning their cars. The owners were consequently beaten and the car doors destroyed. Two police motorcycles were burned and car windows were stoned. Trees were felled to block the way while advertising boards and telephone boots were destroyed”. According to the Commissioner “people suffered losses due to the anarchy and daily-wage workers became unemployed. The hawkers were affected in business and the taxi and trishaw drivers lost income. Stores and restaurants were shut and passengers were disturbed. The schools did not close but the parents kept their kids at home for fear of terrorism”. The Special Rapporteur was provided with a list recording from 17 to 26 September the “total number of Sanghas, nuns and laypersons participating in the praying procession activities on the Shwedagon Pagoda platform after having agitation leaflets dating 13 September.”

The authorities noted that “the strike monks did not obey the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee who instructed them to live according to Buddhist Sangha discipline. The monks are liable to obey the rules and instructions of Buddha and State Laws prescribed by the Committee.” On 24 September, the Directive 93 was issued by the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee calling for state/division/township/ward Sangha Nayaka Committees to supervise the monks and novices so that they only practice Pariyatti and Patipatti. In other words, the Directive prohibited the participation of monks in secular affairs.  The Special Rapporteur asked the Sangha what had been the process for issuing Directive 93 and whether the Parivetti and Patipatti prevents monks to address the economic and social grievances of peoples. He was informed by the authorities that “the activities of the strike monks, 88 Generation Student Group, Political parties and terrorists affected the peace, security and lead to riots. In order to prevent the danger to the public, the Curfew N° 144, under the Code of Criminal Procedure was announced according to the existing law by the Yangon Division Commissioner himself. The Order N° 1/2007 was announced at 8.45 pm on 25 September which was made known to the public from 9 pm through the towns overnight by thirty-three cars through loud-speakers, advertized on boards at public places and broadcasted by the City FM Radio and advertized in newspapers and journals. Action was taken according to the law against people disobeying the order. Within three days of the strike, people were taken into custody and the worries of the public were reportedly released after which the Curfew Order was lifted step by step depending on the situation. The Order N° 2/2007 at 9 pm on 2 October, the Order N° 3/2007 at 8.45 pm on 12 October and the Order N° 4/2007 at 6 pm on 13 October were announced with the approval of the Yangon Division Peace and Development Council. Curfew Order Section N° 144 which was expected to be in force for 2 months, until 24 November, was lifted by Order N° 5/2007 at 6 pm on 20 October because of local peace and stability.”

The Special Rapporteur met with the Minister of Home Affairs and 20 members of the Government-established Human Rights Body  in Nay Pyi Taw. He was informed that “if more than 5 persons want to stage a demonstration, permission can be obtained from the authorities concerned in accordance with Notification N° 2/88 of the State Law and Order Restoration Council”. It was noted that “the protestors of September 2007 did not obtain prior permission from the authorities concerned in accordance with the procedures and acted against the Law. The instigation by some monks and laymen, who wants to overthrow the government through violent means, among the monks who peacefully participated in the demonstrations on the understanding that it was a religious act, led to violent activities. The Government had to control the situation in accordance with the Aid to Civil Power procedures”.

The Special Rapporteur was informed by the authorities that “the agitators contacted anti-government organizations based abroad, declared as terrorist organizations, and illegally received cash from them. The leading protestors aimed at paralyzing the State machinery through unrest and destruction to overthrow the Government, guided by anti-government organizations abroad through television broadcasts, internet websites and news media. The protestors in turn sent exaggerated information, photos and interviews to the foreign media painting the peaceful demonstrations as a political movement. The unrest which occurred in September was not the wish of the entire people, with the non-participation of these people”. It was noted that “at the beginning of the peaceful demonstrations, the Government tolerated without any action. The authorities concerned requested senior monks to prevent the violence. On 24 September the Minister for Religious Affairs reported the situation to the Chairman Sayadaw and members of the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee which issued nine directives instructing all monks to behave in accordance. Despite this, some monks involved in politics continued their activities with the infiltration of peaceful monks by violent persons and political opportunists instigated by foreign media. The demonstration transformed into violence and attacked security personnel by hitting with sticks and stones, putting state owned motorbikes and vehicles on fire, almost threatening lives.” The various warnings did not have a significant impact on the demonstrations, and on 25 September, tens of thousands of people again took to the streets of Yangon in protest. On the same evening, the authorities announced the night-time curfew (from 9 pm to 5 am), and by the following morning had positioned truck-loads of armed riot police and troops at key locations in Yangon, including at a number of monasteries. These troops sealed off a number of monasteries to prevent monks from joining the demonstrations.

The Minister of Home Affairs noted that “only the Government declared Article 144 in Yangon and Mandalay and the security forces dispersed the demonstrations. Therefore only 10 died and 14 were injured during the dispersion of a huge crowd of demonstrators. There were no monks among the dead. Among the tens of thousand of demonstrators, only those instigating and leading the demonstrations have been detained for investigation. Those who participated out of naivety in the demonstrations also violated the law, but were released after making undertakings”. He further stated that “up to 1 November 2,927 persons have been investigated and 2,836 of them have been released, with 91 persons remaining in custody. They have been detained and are investigated in accordance with the law for terrorist activities disrupting security and stability in connection with explosions, destructions and committing crimes. Those under temporary detention have been detained in accordance with the law and registered in the “Prisoner’s Personal Data.” It was reported by the authorities that the detainees who are not well have been given treatment by doctors from prison hospitals and township medical units. Each detainee is reportedly provided health care free of charge and arrangements are made for their health care, food and accommodation and for them to receive food from donors. Prisoners and detainees and treated kindly and sympathetically by allowing them to write to their families and receive food and necessities from them. The ICRC is allowed to visit prisoners together with NGOs from Myanmar, but the ICRC stopped the visits since 2005 stating that joint visits are contrary to the norms.”

The authorities acknowledged that the demonstration were peaceful until the incidents were influenced by the meeting of the Security Council. The demonstrations were allegedly instigated by “terrorist” groups which had dispatched agents to the country working with labor groups, students and monks. Bomb blast, attacks with Yengali handmade tools and TNT explosives were reportedly used to obstruct the security forces and destabilize the authorities. These agents persuaded the demonstrators to come in strength robbing arms from security forces which had to intervene against the terrorist attacks, though without the intention of harming the peaceful demonstrators. During the Special Rapporteur’s visit to the monasteries and police station the authorities provided pictures of items that had reportedly been seized. The authorities informed the Special Rapporteur that they had learnt before the 18 August resumption of the National Convention, through a Karen statement, that monks attended trainings and that instigators had activated innocents at the Shwedagon and Sulive Pagodas. The law enforcements agents were responsible for enforcing the law against the mobs which had become a risk through their activities against the law. Around the Shwedagon Pagoda one group of 150 security forces and another group with 50 security people were facing 20.000 to 30.000 people.

The Special Rapporteur asked whether the SPDC had submitted a request to receive aid from civil powers. Under the Criminal Code Procedure Section 128, the police have the power to request assistance while law authorizes them to give orders. The Yangon Division and Peace Development  controlled the police division. The Special Rapporteur enquired about the use of military commanders and participation of units used with Security Forces (11th, 6th and 77th light infantry divisions). The police forces were overwhelmed and had to ask for the support by military on 26 September at 1 pm, rendering aid to civil and military power. N° 3 and N° 77 light divisions participated, but not the N° 11 according to governmental sources.

The authorities said that they could not use the water canons, as they were not able to access the mobs and crowded areas, but used other techniques. It was noted that the decision to act was in accordance with the seriousness of the treat, decided by the Police Order and other chain of command. 13 police officers were reported wounded throughout the entire period of demonstrations (on 26 September) though no law enforcement agents were killed. The Special Rapporteur asked whether there were any prosecutions and who where the people responsible behind the procedures and there whereabouts. He was informed that the search by security personnel was complementary to the police forces and that there were only 1,200 police and military personnel. The Special Rapporteur asked where the arrested persons were placed, the coordination with the law enforcement and whether there were any civilians to be reported among the 1,200 effectives after the 26 September, when the General Administration Department and Police rendered the power to the Senior Commanders to act upon groups that controlled the monks. They noted that there were no women but only men who willingly wanted to join in accordance with Section 120 of the criminal code, rendering power to the law enforcement forces. The Authorities noted that until 26 September the events were totally under police command, while after the 26 September the events were rendered to military command, in collaboration with police and administration, under the surveillance of the SPDC. The operations were overseen by a Permanent State Division Judge/City Judge present at the scene. The 1940 Control manual (from the colonial area) and 1961 Manual for riot control were applied under the supervision of the police division of Yangon.
The excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators (26-29 September 2007)
26 September

Several confrontations between the security forces and protesters reportedly took place at different locations in Yangon, including Shwedagon pagoda, Bahan Tonwship, Tamwe Township, Shwe Gone Daing road, Sule Pagoda and Yangon City Hall. Other incidents were reported in Mandalay, Loikaw, Sittwe, Kachin state, and Ba Maw and Myitkyina. According to various independent and reliable sources, and direct testimonies of victims and witnesses, two major incidents occurred in the streets of Yangon. This includes the crackdowns at Shwedagon Pagoda and Sule Pagoda. Many have witnessed monks and civilians being beaten and slapped during the demonstrations.

Monks started marching at around 10 am. The gates of the pagoda were locked and all roads were blocked by the security forces (riot police and army). At around 11.30 am, more riot police arrived at the site. As they could not pursue their peaceful walk, monks sat down. According to a direct testimony one of the monk leaders, Ven Kovida, who participated in the demonstration , a delegation of monks attempted to enter into negotiations with the security forces. The monks were ordered to disperse and get into military trucks to be brought back to their monasteries. Fearing arrests or other forms of reprisals, the monks agreed to disperse with the condition of going back to their monasteries on their own. The security forces refused. At around 11.45 am, violence began at Shwedagon pagoda. As the monks refused to disperse, security forces started beating monks on their heads with rubber batons. Teargas and smoke grenades were reportedly used. One victim who witnessed the crackdown heard orders to beat monks coming from behind the riot police. Whereas unconfirmed allegations of killings were received, several witnesses interviewed saw monks severely beaten who were lying down on the floor without moving. They were not in position to say if they were dead or unconscious. Several arrests were also reported by various credible sources.

At 1 pm, security forces were blocking the road to Sule pagoda at the intersection, south of Traders hotel. At 2.05 pm, security forces fired shots in the air and what appeared to be teargas or smoke grenades at the intersection south of Traders hotel and north of Sule pagoda. The crowd was effectively dispersed, but re-assembled at the intersection just north of Traders. Protesters then gathered around Sule Pagoda downtown directly in front of troops, and continued to march around the area. Troops fired warning shots and either teargas or smoke grenades, which failed to disperse the people. Shots were fired in the air again at about 3 pm to scatter the crowd which kept re-assembling. At 3.10 pm, a large procession traveled south with many monks and walked across the front of the soldiers, without incident. They were traveling south on the north-south road one block east of Sule Pagoda Road, and then turned west to pass directly in front of the soldiers. At 3.15 pm, state television announced that all senior clergy should rein in their monks. According to the State-run newspaper the New Light of Myanmar, protesters entered homes, threatening families who refused to participate in the demonstrations. They also requested those who did not want to join the protests to provide financial assistance.

At 3 pm, most of the country’s mobile phone lines were reportedly disconnected, preventing journalists and demonstrators from reporting on the crackdown launched by the security forces in the heart of Yangon. Several journalists were reportedly injured, including Than Lwin Zaung Htet of the magazine The Voice. The authorities closed internet cafés in Yangon while the government-controlled Internet Service Provider, Bagan Cyber, reduced internet traffic speed. It was getting harder and harder to send or receive photos and videos sent from Myanmar. Dozens of foreign journalists were refused tourist visas by the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok. Blogs, websites and Internet cafés were closed, while it was becoming increasingly difficult to call mobile phones from abroad.

The same day, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, announced he was sending his Special Envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, to the region in response to the deteriorating situation in Myanmar, and once again urged Myanmar authorities to respond to the ongoing peaceful protests with the utmost restraint. While the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy briefed the Security Council on the latest developments, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, urged the authorities to allow the peaceful expression of dissent in the country and to abide by international human rights law in their response. She further noted that “the use of excessive force and all forms of arbitrary detention of peaceful protesters are strictly prohibited under international law.” She stressed that the serious abuses being currently perpetrated by the security forces “may constitute international crimes and could invoke individual criminal responsibility.”
27 September

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs called a meeting in Nay Pyi Taw for United Nations heads of agencies and foreign diplomats. The Government blamed the internal and external destructive elements for inciting monks to protest, influenced by some foreign embassies. The Government however insisted that it would act with restraint. On 27 September, despite a heavy presence of the security forces and the use of lethal force the previous day, the demonstrations continued in Yangon. There was a smaller participation of monks, no doubt due in part to the large number of arrests and ongoing security presence at monasteries. Ignoring again the appeals by the international community, the security forces responded to the ongoing demonstrations with further violence, with the army now playing a more prominent role. State media acknowledged the firing of warning shots, the killing of 9 demonstrators and several wounded, including women on September 27.  Many observers suggested that the real figure was several times higher. A diplomat in Myanmar, when interviewed by radio, said “several multiples of the ten acknowledged by the authorities” have been killed.

About 10,000 people demonstrated around Sule Pagoda, at the intersection of Sule Pagoda Road and Anawrahta Street. They were staging a peaceful sit-down protest in the intersection. At about 1.20 pm, they were reportedly fired upon with teargas and smoke grenades and beaten by security forces. Many people were found to be soaked with blood running away. Several rounds of gunfire were heard. The Japanese photojournalist, Kenji Nagai was shot dead at this intersection. The army reportedly fired upon demonstrators near Thingangyun Kyaikkasan Pagoda as well as at the Tamwe roundabout and Pansodan. Several allegations of killings were received. In front of Trader’s Hotel, 4 people were reportedly wounded from gunfire and one women died on the spot after being shot.

According to various reports and testimonies, a particularly brutal incident occurred nearby the State High School No. 3 in Tamwe Township. One witness saw the crowd being ambushed by the security forces in front of the school. The army opened fire and drove a truck into the crowd, killing at least 2 people. The soldiers then stopped the truck and came out. They first shot in the air, then, at people. They did not make any announcements or warnings before they began shooting. One witness saw soldiers who shot one boy in the back when he was climbing the wall of the High School N° 3. One student, Maung Tun Lynn Kyaw, who died was reportedly shot in the head in cold blood in front of his mother. According to other sources, 5 or more people were killed. Many injuries and arrest were also reported during the incident. Several reports indicate that dead bodies were removed by the security forces. In the same area, one killing at the corner of Anawrahta and Pansodan streets was reported by an eyewitness. One young man was holding the fighting peacock flag and had an NLD Youth badge on his white shirt. He was reportedly shot in the head. There was only one shot and no soldiers in the immediate vicinity. Soldiers and police descended on several hotels in Yangon, including Traders, to check the IDs of foreign journalists. Internet and international phone lines were still open at these hotels. That night, further raids by security forces on monasteries were reported, and the surrounding areas were declared no-go zones. There were also raids on a number of residential areas and many arrests were reported.
28 September

The following day, the demonstrations had become much smaller, and were quickly broken up by security forces, with a number of further fatalities reported, and a large number of arrests. Among the fatalities, 3 more killings at the corner of Anawrahta and Pansodan were reported at around 2 pm. Eyewitnesses saw people being pushed back by trucks of military on Pansodan bridge and riot police charging and arresting a few people in front of the Traders Hotel.

The main public internet link to the country was closed down, which significantly reduced the flow of media information coming from the country. The two internet service providers in the country are State-controlled. The only other internet access is by dedicated satellite links (such as those operated by foreign embassies, the United Nations, or multinational companies), as well as possibly a small number of data capable satellite phones. The same day, the State-run newspaper the New Light of Myanmar reported that more 5,700 people from Taungtha Tonwship (Mandalay Division) staged a peaceful demonstration with the permission of the local authorities to protests against the demonstrations led by the monks.  The following days, several ceremonies and demonstrations were organized by the Government to support the national convention and constitution.

29 September

When the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Ibrahim Gambari arrived in Yangon in the afternoon, several demonstrators including some monks demonstrated in downtown Yangon. The demonstrations were mainly led by high school students. Troops fired warning shots. Demonstrators were reportedly cordoned off, beaten and arrested. Many escaped and staged demonstrations in other parts of downtown. A procession of 800 followed by civilians took place in Pakokku from 2 to 3.30 pm. At Kyaukpadaung, monks, nuns and civilians demonstrated peacefully. No significant incident was reported. Additional reports of killings were received, including a 40 year-old man named Pho Zaw and an 18 year-old man named Sunni Kalamalay.


By Rev. Dr. Chum Awi

1. CHIN STATE It is situates in the North-Western part of Burma. The State borders with Bangladesh and India in the West. It is full of mountains and deep valleys. These make communication difficult. People speak various dialects.

The population is estimated 400000. People are dependent on slash and burn system of agriculture. This system make the soil barren year after year.

2. CHRISTIANITY The first missionaries to Eastern Chinland were Rev. and Mrs. Arthur Carson. They founded mission station in Haka in 1899 AD. This town is now the present capital town of the State. Mr. Carson, invented Roman alphabets for Chin literature in 1907. He planned to work on development in the areas of agriculture, literature, medicine, and basic education. The people were so unfor-tunate because he died of appendicitis in 1908.

These American Baptist missionaries were followed by Dr. East and his wife (1902). They were medical missionaries. Another medical missionary couple were Dr. & Mrs. J.G. Woodin. They came to Haka in 1910 and didn’t work long.

Rev. & Mrs. Chester Strait arrived in Haka in 1925. He established Bible school in Haka. He finished translation of the New Testament and published in 1940.

Rev. & Mrs. robert R.G. Johnson arrived in Haka in 1946. They began to translate Old Testament. They started to build a stone Church building in Haka. The Revolutionary Government of Burma which dethroned parliamentary democracy government in 1962 required them to go home in 1966. They were the last missionary couple to the Chins.

3. ZOMI (CHIN) BAPTIST CONVENTION In 1953 Baptist Chins organized them- selves as Zomi (Chin) Baptist Convention. The total population of Baptists in Chin State is estimated 100000 baptized and another 100000 non-baptized members. There are around 1000 local small Churches in the villages.

Because of dialects and regional feelings, the Convention is comprised of 25 associations. 1. Haka Baptist Association 2. Falam Baptist Association 3. Tedim Baptist Association 4. Thantlang Association of Baptist Churches 5. Kale Valley Baptist Association 6. Matu Baptist Association 7. Matu Association of Baptist Cchurches 8. Senthang Baptist Association 9. Lautu Baptist Association 10. Kabaw Valley Thado Baptist Association 11. Zotung Baptist Association 12. Maram Baptist Association 13. Zophei Baptist Association 14. Tonzang baptist Association 15. Siyin Region baptist Association 16. Zo Baptist Association 17. Kuki Chin Baptist Association 18. Tamu Valley Baptist Association 19. Paletwa Baptist Association 20. Gangaw Baptist Association 21. Kanpetlet Baptist Association 22. Mindat Township Baptist Association 23. Chin Baptist Association 24. Kale Zomi Baptist Association 25. Lairawn Baptist Association

4. OTHER MISSION & PARA-CHURCHES There are mission Churches and para- churches which are established in the Chin society today. These include: 1. Roman Catholic Mission Churches 2. Presbyterian Churches 3. Methodist Churches 4. Gospel Baptist Churches 5. Fundamental Baptist Churches 6. Evangelical Baptist Churches 7. Evangelical Presbyterian Churches 8. United Reform Churches 9. Evangelical Free Church of Burma 10. Church of Jesus Christ 11. Church of God 12. Church on the Rock 13. Assemblies of God 14. Full Gospel Churches 15. United Pentecostal Churches 16. Christian Mission Alliance 17. Four Square Gospel Church 18. Christian Church of Myanmar 19. Seventh Day Baptist Church 20. Seventh Day Adventist Churches 21. Independent Church of Burma 22. Thangzakam baptist Churches

Note: These small Churches are part of Christian growth in the State.

5. FUTURE OF CHRISTIANITY The present military government of Burma is implementing its unwritten high policy in the country. This high policy is summed up in three words: Amyo, Batha, Thathana. It can be translated as:

“Only one race = Burmese

Only one language = Burmans

Only one religion = Buddhism”

Because of this policy Chin language is prohibited to be taught in public schools. Christianity is suppressed in many ways. Pagodas are constructed on mountains of Chin State with state government funds while churches are destroyed indirectly.

The future of the Churches in Chin State is very unstable at this point of time. It is hoped and prayed that believers in the State continue keeping their faith in the midst of torturings and persecutings.

( Rev. Dr. Chum Awi is former principal of Zomi Theological College ( ZTC ), and General Secretary of Zomi ( Chin ) Baptist Convention. He was township law officer at Haka before he served as ZTC principal )


Ecological System and Renewable Energy in Chin State Provided by: Chin Research and Development Society

A Brief Review of The Ecological Destruction and the Feasibility of Renewable Energy in Chin State

Provision of an energy supply in the Inner Chin State, Burma has been difficult for a long time, and has seriously obstructed economic and social development. The state has not been invested large amount of financial and materials resources here, only a very limited about 5% to 10 % of the population in this area accessed to electricity. Insignificant numbers of farmers, villagers and households have been connected to the electricity grid or to local small hydro generating stations. To extend the grid, the construction of high and low voltage lines alone would require large amount of investment that only the international NGO will best meet these requirements as the local or the State Government has no other alternative resources for implementation. Not only the one-time cost is high, but also the energy usage at any given location is low that the economy benefits are also very low.

Because of a shortage of fuel, energy, and electricity the farmers here still rely mainly on firewood, straw for their daily use – this has resulted in deforestation, destruction of the reserved forest for rain, soil erosion and draught that are affecting a larger area every year.

The second cause of the deforestation is done by Orchid hunting in the forest of Chin State, because of the price of the wild orchid per kilogram is as high as 4000 Kyats to 6000 ks ( Kyat is Burmese currency ) per kilogram which is an equivalent salary of a government servant per month. People cut every huge tree that bears Orchid flowers. The jungle of the reserve forest in Chin State now has been totally wipes out.

There are two main orchids which the Orchid hunters are mainly interested in:

(a) small white colour flowers with the shape of pearls , a rather short plant, which is highly demanded in China and can cost up to 5000 ks per kilogram,

(b) the second one has a delicate shape spider like structure flowers which has exotic beauty in nature, and can cost up to 6000 ks per kilogram.

The Chinese, Indians and Thais have the technique to do tissue culture that include mass production from a single plant to over a million plants in a- three -year period. Orchid cultivation became one of the sources of their main national income, rolling millions and millions of dollars in to their countries each year.

The third cause of deforestation would be shifting cultivation and the usage of slash-and-burn method of cultivation that devastated the ecological system of Chin State. The fourth cause of deforestation is burning forest that destroyed natural habitats for the animals and ecological system as a whole, to the extent that the fire occasionally resulted to the destruction of houses in the villages.

To depend on conventional energy to solve the energy problem of the vast, extremely dispersed areas is fraught with difficulties. To do so even within a relatively long period of time will be next to impossible. However, Chin State has abundant wind and solar energy resources. The region’s wind energy reserves are very large and still being unused. In the region as a whole, average wind speed would be around 5 meters per second, and 75% of the region has utilizable wind resources. Inner Chin State also has a rich solar resource that 3000 hrs to 4000 hrs of sunshine available per year. Learning how to make use of these favorable resources that nature has bestow upon humanity, and turn them into a wellspring and motive force to accelerate economic and social development, is the objective towards which we have been striving.

The road to renewable To solve the energy problem of the areas, to develop the regional economy and protect the fragile ecological environment, Chin State has traveled a difficult road toward the development and utilization of new energy sources.

Between 1950 and 1970 the initial steps were taken towards new energy development. The first steps were made towards solving the scientific questions involved in producing equipment for converting wind energy into mechanical and electrical energy, and devices for utilizing solar electricity and solar heat. Through medium-scale testing arranged by the local and the region, initial steps were taken to explore the feasibility of using wind power to address energy needs in this area. These steps established a firm foundation for the development and use of new energy in Chin State.

From 1980 to 1990, new energy development and utilization moved into the key stage of organized and planned development. By late 1990 it was possible to buy Tata Company made solar panel from India that the relatively wealthy people of Chin State have access in purchasing, for their family electricity consumption. We need a reliable group of Local NGO with the task of supervising and co-ordinating the issues of renewable energy at a regional level. All major issues in new energy development are to be studied, planned organized and co-ordinated between NGO organizer for rural development. This will vigorously ensured the healthy development of the region’s energy work.

New energy development guidlines are to establish with, policies and specific measures well suited to the region’s conditions. That specified :-

The primary objective of new energy development and utilization had to be the solution of the energy problems of rural and remote areas, and that the development of small-scale wind generators, solar cells, and balance of system products for stand-alone applications is a top priority.

Reliable to use, convenience to maintain, and affordable to local usage should be the basic principle of the new product.

Small-scale products and energy use for daily life should be the main focus, and the needs of production and daily life should be integrated.

Local people should be in charge, with the State and NGO providing appropriate support.

Local NGO and expertise are to be organized to tackle the key technical problems. Simultaneously, with the region’s resources in mind, provisional standards are formulated for the technical parameters of small wind generators, in order to push them as fast as possible toward technical reliability and practicality of use.

David I. Steinberg (Georgetown University )

Background: The issue of the status and authority of the one-third of the population of Myanmar (Burma), composed of diverse indigenous non-Burman peoples, remains the most intractable of the problems facing the Burmese state since independence in 1948.1 The sharing of political power in some manner acceptable to the local populations, and social and economic equity among these diverse peoples are all related to, but even more fundamental and difficult of solution than, the issue of the political form of government that has bedeviled the state for decades. Burma-Myanmar has been on the brink of fragmentation because of the diffuse, often antithetical, perceptions of these issues by one or more ethnic groups since independence. The desires for independence from the British, dependant on minim! al titular ethnic unity, and the forceful leadership of General Aung San whose role was accepted by most minorities, were the factors that initially succeeded in bringing these groups together at the Panglong Conference in February 1947 that forged the fragile cohesion that existed on independence. An effective answer to the minority issues is still sought, and its amelioration or solution may provide signals and models for approaching some of the more delicate other national issues that transcend ethnicity.

The unity of the state has been a primary goal of the military SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council) and the SPDC (State Peace and Development Council). The concern over this goal is, however, not a product of this relatively new incarnation of the military. Since independence, the Burmese military have fought for the unity of the state; more specifically the 1958 and then 1962 military coups were carried out with the avowed purposes of preventing civil war and upholding this unity.

The problem of internal unity has had external dimensions. As the Burmese military has been preoccupied with national unity, senior staffs have been suspicious of the role that foreign nations and peoples have played in fomenting national fragmentation and disunity. They accurately can point, and do so continuously in the controlled press, to history to support their present concerns. They correctly charge that the British employed the ‘divide and rule’ policy of administratively separating some of the peripheral minority areas from Burma Proper (where most of the Burmans lived).2 More important, however, has been recent history, when each foreign power, unofficially and often clandestinely, at one time or another has supported for their own and diverse purposes, political or ethnic rebellions involv! ing minority peoples. These included some unofficial British encouragement of independence for the Karen, Chinese assistance to the Burma Communist Party,3 United States covert support to Chinese Nationalist (Kuomintang) troops that retreated into Burma in 1949-50,4 external Muslim support to Muslim rebels in the Arakan, Indian connivance with Naga and Chin rebels on that frontier, and Thai assistance at various national and local levels to a wide variety of ethnic and political rebellions located along its long littoral. It is no wonder that Burmese authorities have viewed with great suspicion the roles that foreigners have in the past played in interfering in their country, have projected these same roles into the present, and fear that they may exist into the future. Present internal administrative policies are in part likely to have been formulated with this in mind.

These past problems, severe in themselves and sufficient to cause suspicions, were however aggravated by seven additional and important factors:

[1] Some of these peoples had significant Christian percentages of their populations in contrast to the overwhelming importance of Buddhism among the Burmans.5 This aroused the sympathies of some of the external Christian communities and sects that helped propagandize the plight of these peoples and gave them moral (and perhaps financial) support.

[2] As the military, especially in the period of military rule under the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP: 1962-1988), insulated the state from the outside world, the minority groups were more in touch with external affairs and foreign elements for both weapons and moral support than was the central Burmese government. Thus they made their case to the court of world opinion while the military regime became more introverted, isolated, and more xenophobic. This naturally increased suspicions that foreigners were once again aimed at dividing the country.

[3] The Burman majority is the only major ethnic group that does not have ethnic kin in other lands across the arbitrarily demarked colonial borders; this creates a sense of international ethnic identity Burmans lack.6 In traditional Southeast Asia, boundaries in the modern sense did not exist. Power radiated out in concentric circles from the center and states could be associated with more than one suzerain group, and pay tribute to them. The colonial powers extended administrative control to borders that lacked ethnic, geographic, or other considerations, thus creating some of the problems states in the region today face.

[4] The military, perhaps without central authority and on the whims of individual local but exceedingly powerful military commanders, have treated the minorities, among whom they were stationed and whom they administered, with disdain for their cultures and often religions.7 Charges of human rights abuses and forced porterage by the military in border regions are widespread.

[5] The hill (minority) areas were climatically suitable for the production of poppies from which opium, morphine, and heroin were produced, thus giving those engaged in this trade the means to purchase arms and the motivation to keep the central government at arm’s length. Opium production was introduced in the colonial period, and until 1959 opium was legal in the Shan State and sawbwas (local maharajas) received revenues from its use.

[6] The natural resources of the hill regions, such as jade and timber, provided lucrative means to sustain local populations in rebellion.

[7] Foreign missionaries and then international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), some of which had religious origins, were extensively involved with the minorities both because they often were animists and more susceptible to Christian conversion, and then because poverty was exceptionally high and health standards low in those regions.

All of these factors have increased mutual suspicions.

However accurate the perceptions of foreign support to various diverse minorities may have been in the past, the situation has vastly changed since the earlier period of Burmese independence. It is now accurate to maintain that no foreign power wants to see the break up of the Burmese state. The balkanization of Myanmar would create conditions of potential chaos in that country, a pivotal state that has become the nexus of real, but unstated, regional rivalry between India and China. Without question the instabilities created would spill over into the region and exacerbate these obvious, if unadmitted, rivalries. There would likely be increases in refugees and illegal immigration, expanded epidemics and health problems, and an even greater trade in narcotics and trafficking in women.8 In a sense, the! past perceptions of the Burmese leadership have been erroneously perpetuated into the present, creating suspicions that no longer are grounded. These perceptions, however inaccurate they may be, markedly contribute to the difficulty of resolving these issues.

As foreign perceptions have also changed, most minority aspirations have also undergone major shifts. Where some minority leaders in the past had publicly advocated independence, some UN trusteeship, most now do not do so. They have instead argued for some form of local autonomy or federal authority, although the word ‘federal’ seems anathema to the military who equate it with virtual independence and the eventual effective break up of the state.9 Independence of any of the regional groupings within Myanmar would not be economically sustainable, and could lead to the kind of ‘ethnic cleansing’ we have witnessed too frequently in other areas.

Yet the old acquiescence of the minorities to Burman domination is now more problematic. As Burman nationalism has understandably grown, so has ethnic nationalism, a phenomenon that is evident worldwide. This means that minorities are likely to demand more from the center as they see their brethren having more autonomy and doing better across the porous borders.

This paper will consider only the issue of the indigenous minorities of Myanmar. The status of the non-indigenous minorities, more specifically the Indian (all those from the subcontinent) and Chinese communities, are not discussed here although their previous and present positions in the economy have strongly and negatively affected Burman attitudes toward foreign economic exploitation and suspicions of the role of foreigners in that society. The colonial period Burmese economy was essentially under foreign control, which was a highly significant factor in the political legitimacy of socialism–getting the economy once again under Burman control. The Indian community occupied a most important position in the colonial and pre-independence period, but since have been replaced in the last decade by the ! Chinese as the single dominant foreign economic influence in the society. Suspicions and prejudices against these groups so intensified that in 1984 a nationality act was passed that relegated inferior status to all those minorities that could not establish residence in Burma before 1824 (the beginnings of colonial influence through the First Anglo-Burmese War and the importation of Indian labor and Chinese immigration). Although the importance of these communities should not be underestimated, they represent a different issue except where Chinese influence has deeply penetrated the ethnic minority groups along the Chinese frontier. Yet the overwhelming and obvious Chinese presence and wealth are potentially explosive and should not be ignored either by the leaders of Myanmar or foreign observers.

State Goals

The goal of national unity of the SLORC/SPDC government is thus conceptually appropriate, proper, and potentially in the interests of the peoples of that country and in those of the neighboring nations. In Myanmar, the role of the military is not now to protect the state from external enemies10 (the function of the military in most states), for such enemies are presently nonexistent, but rather to enforce internal security and preserve internal unity. Although military functions may be different from those in many other countries, the problem the state faces is not in its goal, but rather in the means employed by the central military authorities and their regional commanders to reach that goal. One essential conclusion of this paper is that the military government through its policies and actions is ! undercutting, even destroying, the possibility of attaining its own goal of long-term national unity toward which it struggles. Yet over a longer period the reputation and efficacy of the military will be determined by its ability to attain national unity. This disconnect between goal and its realization is a critical issue facing the military authorities that is obscured by their (presumed) view that the situation is essentially under control for the shorter term through the cease-fires, the amelioration of many active rebellions, and a greater government presence in the periphery. This is likely to be illusory.

That admittedly strong statement needs explication, for on the surface the SLORC/SPDC can point with considerable pride to the changes it has brought about in the minority regions. There is now a wide array of cease fires with diverse minority peoples; the bloodshed has stopped, but it had continued for decades, in some areas even over two generations, and this is not easily forgotten. This has brought some relief to some of the minority peoples, and has further served to strengthen the military in its control over the state as a whole, for it has freed its troops to deal with the remaining insurgencies that have become weaker and more ineffective. Some infrastructure has been built where little existed before, providing access to previously isolated regions, and there now is a concerted effort to ad! minister regions that were essentially beyond the control of the central government almost since independence. The creation of a new ministry, the Ministry of Development of Border Areas and National Races under an August 1993 law, is part of the process. As access has been strengthened or created, so has the responsibility of the central authorities in direct or indirect management increased.

Yet these new conditions of relative tranquility remain fragile. The cease fires have not solved problems–they have sequestered them for an indefinite period, but such armistices are likely to collapse without major changes and improvements in the economic and social conditions of these peoples, and in the political arrangements that must be made to provide some locally defined degree of justice in the majority-minority relationships.

If the minorities in some cases have relied on foreign moral support, the Burmese government has in part not been candid in its portrayal of minority issues. Under the BSPP military government, the state downplayed minority issues in such international United Nations fora as ECAFE (later ESCAP), claiming that there were no such issues. Later, under the SLORC/SPDC it has averred that there were 135 ‘races,’ all of whom had to be dealt with in some appropriate manner and for whom the old administrative structures did not work.11 Both approaches grossly exaggerated the issue but from opposite points of the spectrum. The figure of 135 ‘races’ is actually a pre-World War II designation of a linguistic map that includes languages and dialects of such languages.12 There are actually far fewer ethnic groups,! and ‘race’ is not an appropriate scientific term to apply to this diversity. Many believe that the military in differing periods has used the minority issue–either dismissing it or overemphasizing it–as a means to perpetuate its direct control.

The formation and expansion of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) create another element of social and political control by the Burman military-dominated group over minority peoples. With between about 15 million members, it is a military attempt at mass mobilization that increases the tatmadaw’s capacity for action toward its desired ends. Although it is Burman lead and completely controlled by the military, its membership has been extended to minority regions.

Majority-Minority Problems

There is a profound lack of trust between the majority and individual minority groups that has become exacerbated over time. In their efforts to maintain national unity, the tatmadaw has engaged in actions that have lengthened the distance between majority and the minorities, and thus made more tenuous the relationships between Burman and most minorities. These actions may have been in response to varied stimuli such as perceived internal threats to the state sometimes encouraged from foreign sources, attempts to ensure internal military hegemony over all centers of power within the state, and an essential disdain of minority cultures and peoples. These actions include:

Elimination of the limited local minority autonomy under civilian rule (1948-58, 1960-62).

Direct administration of local government in minority areas by military personnel.

Treatment of minority areas as virtually foreign occupied territories.

Elimination of significant minority leadership in the upper echelons of the tatmadaw.

Lack of official recognition of education in local, non-Burman languages.

Restriction of the avenues of social mobility for minority peoples.

Lack of respect for local religious practices in certain minority areas (especially the Chin State).

Arbitrary confiscation of land.

Lack or transfer of central economic resources to minority areas commensurate with their believed contribution to the national income (through exploitation of natural resources).

Support of military units foraging off the countryside and the confiscation of land for military and military-owned agricultural purposes.

Forcing villagers to be removed to alternative, military approved sites and in some areas creating ‘free-fire’ zones.

Forced porterage of military supplies in the minority areas where fighting is endemic.

If mutual trust is not forthcoming, major points of tension could intensify these past problems. For example, the minority groups involved in the cease fires have not surrendered to the Burmese authorities. They still are allowed to retain their weapons and can engage in their traditional agricultural pursuits. But when, for example, a new constitution is promulgated, and before elections can be held, the minorities are supposed to surrender their weapons to ensure the fairness of such voting. It is highly unlikely that this will happen beyond some token release of arms. The levels of trust do not now exist, and are unlikely to exist in the future without significant changes in the administration of minority affairs, to encourage the withdrawal of such weaponry . The surrender of! arms by minorities around the world under various peace plans has not worked, and it is highly unlikely that it would occur in Myanmar, where ethnically related insurgencies have continued for so long and distrust is so high.

The military have promised to deliver to minority areas increased access to education, health services, and employment opportunities. Yet the budgets allocated to such activities are highly limited and inadequate to accomplish the intended purposes. These budgets seem mainly to be the reported reallocation of previously determined national sectoral budgets (education, health, etc.) to these areas, but the total national budgets for such services are already grossly insufficient for the needs on a national basis and have deteriorated in real and per capita terms over the past decade, let alone in the minority regions. </! SPAN

Thus mutual levels of suspicion, inflamed by historical precedents and recent activities, require the deft handling of negotiations at least to meet the minimal set of requirements of all sides. There is no evidence that there is either this political will or interest.

The situation becomes more complex when the role of the National League for Democracy (NLD) is factored into the already complicated equation. The NLD, although in alliance with a number of minority parties especially the Shan NLD, is essentially a Burman party. It has through the exiled National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) called for ‘National Reconciliation’ at a March 6-7, 2001meeting close to the Thai border. It supported making public the secret dialogue between the SPDC and Aung San Suu Kyi that started in October 2000 and that continues at this writing, and wants the minorities brought into the dialogue process but at a later date because the present dialogue conditions are too fragile. It sees a staged set of consultations: intra-ethnic (to ensure t! hose representing a minority are legitimate), inter-ethnic, and national. It recognizes that although minorities are considered as ethnic entities, they are internally split with factional problems that must be overcome. Yet the government and the NLD share a common attitude: each demands from its adherents a kind of orthodoxy that makes dialogue far more difficult.

Current Dilemmas

Many observers outside Myanmar have been encouraged by the private dialogue that has taken place from October 2000 between members of the SPDC and Aung San Suu Kyi, de facto leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD). The United Nations Special Representative, Ambassador Razali Ismail, has been active in pursuing this welcome initiative, and his involvement in Myanmar has so far been positive. He was in Myanmar in early June, and is expected to return to Yangon in July. Yet there are many who remain skeptical about the potential for success (even the use of such a term is certainly defined by the interests of each of the parties) for a number of reasons, most obviously because it is highly unlikely that the military will give up essential power, although cosmetic changes s! eem possible, even likely. Important as well has been the lack of inclusion of minorities in such a dialogue. This has been a concern of Ambassador Razali as well, but at this writing there seems to be no action on this issue; while the opposition feels it is premature, perhaps the government would rather attempt to isolate the NLD (and, of course, its leadership) from the minorities. This is of importance to the minorities because the NLD is essentially a Burman party, what is left of it after being decimated by the military authorities. Although it is true that in the 1990 election the NLD overwhelmingly won, they were in alliance with a series of minority political parties as well.

In the early period following the establishment of the SLORC, the NLD position (or more accurately that of Aung San Suu Kyi) seems to have been that the solution to minority issues could be easily resolved following the re-institution of democracy in that country, and thus discussion of specific minority questions should be delayed to some later date.14 That seems to have changed. As the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) has attempted to draft possible constitutions for the state, acts that the military have said to be illegal, the National Convention that the SLORC convened to draw up a new constitution with a highly select group of delegates and in a manner that was heavily scripted and controlled, has floundered on the issues of minority representatio! n and power under such a new configuration.

As the issue of a new constitution is sporadically debated, the state organs of information have leaked certain guidelines on minority rule that are likely to be enshrined under a new constitution, whenever it may appear, led by the military authorities. The first is that the former minority ‘states’ (Shan, Kachin, etc.) are inappropriate as pivotal administrative entities because they are inaccurate descriptions of ‘race,’ as these areas contain many minority groups, not only the ethnic group for which the state was named (the Chin State is an exception). Second, that in order for some of the most important cease fires to continue, some groups with concentrated ethnic populations within contiguous townships would have a degree of local autonomy called ‘self-administered zones.! ’ Most important among them are the Wa, who are the best armed and most difficult to contain. Others are said to be planned for the Naga, Danu, Kokang, Pa-O, and Palaung peoples.

This is an effective but short-term strategy. This provides such groups with local autonomy that they have never legally had since independence, and at the same time it defuses power to such a local level that it has no national impact. The model for such activity may be drawn from the Chinese ‘autonomous regions,’ where limited local authority rests with minority groups but real power is lacking. The Chinese model may appear to more savory than the Russian model, which the Burmese may view as having led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. If the British engaged in a ‘divide and rule’ policy, so it can be charged that the military is intent on a similar approach but using more modern methods. Yet the Burmese authorities will be able to explain to the outside world that in fac! t they have granted more autonomy to minorities than any previous civilian government, and this will be at least accurate in part, although misleading as a whole. This, the tatmadaw may claim, should satisfy foreign critics who harp on human rights.

The levels of distrust between the majority and minority ethnic groups are part of a series of such apprehensions about the sharing of power. They are part of the pattern of problems that include a tendency of the central government (civilian and military alike) to deny effective authority to any potential peripheral political, ethnic, or social grouping. Although these tendencies are simply that, and can be overcome, it makes compromise more difficult.

The minority issues are further complicated by internal divisions among some minorities and fighting between some of them. The Karen National Union, the oldest extant rebellion in the state, has for years been led by Bo Mya, an anachronistic leader who is evidently out of step with the younger Karen rebel leaders who would be prepared to make compromises with the SPDC. In the recent (spring 2001) disputes between the Thai and Myanmar authorities, there seems to have been an attempt to pit one minority against another. As the Wa, supported by the SPDC, have moved and continue to plan to move 50,000 families (perhaps 200,000 people) south toward the Thai frontier from their traditional home areas close to the Chinese border in the Shan State, this has become of great concern to t! he Thai. The rebel Shan State Army, so reports indicate, has been armed and encouraged by the Thai to fight the Wa, while the Burmese authorities support the Wa as a means to deal with the Shan State Army and indicate to the Thai that the Burmese dominate the area.

Suggestions for Potential Resolution of Minority Problem

The solution to the internal distribution of ethnic power in Myanmar must result from actions by the Burmese peoples themselves. Yet foreigners do have a role in reinforcing the potential for accommodation and progress. Basically, they must recognize and respect the real concerns of the military for maintenance of national unity. This is not simply state-generated propaganda, as is sometimes charged by foreign observers. Perhaps one way to demonstrate this concern is for the ASEAN Regional Forum (ASEAN together with China, the U.S., and other powers) to reaffirm the territorial integrity of the state of Myanmar. This simple act of recognizing the status quo is seemingly redundant, yet it could be a step toward reassuring the military of the validity of its paramount concern–natio! nal unity.

Private foreign organizations, the international NGOs (non-governmental organizations), have potentially important roles to play as well. The military do not have the budgets, the knowledge, and lack the trust of the local populations to solve the economic issues that these peoples face. Often deprived of their ancestral villages and agricultural land, moved into safe areas where their actions can be monitored by the military and prevented from being sympathizers of, or bases for, potential insurgents, these peoples desperately need basic human needs assistance. This at present must come, if it is to be provided at all, from the international NGO community. Such assistance is in the interests of all parties. Support by such groups helps build local coalitions and organizations th! at can band together to resolve local problems and this contribute to the social and economic stability of the region–a desirable development that would in fact strengthen the military’s primary goal of national unity. The long-term goal is the re-creation of civil society at the local level in Myanmar–a step that would foster local pluralism (not independence), and would train foreign specialists on that society. It should be noted that Aung San Suu Kyi was first opposed to any NGO humanitarian assistance in Myanmar, but has since modified her position to acquiesce to their presence if they do not assist the government or its related institutions and organizations. The ubiquitous presence of the state makes this difficult at best. The March 2001 National Conciliation meeting of the NCGUB mentioned above endorsed humanitarian assistance to these areas.

The second step would be for a compromise on local autonomy. The provision of local autonomy to specific minority groups, as presently envisaged by the government under its proposed ‘self-administered areas,’ could be maintained as a sign of progress. Such autonomy could be limited to customary and family law, inheritance, some forms of local taxation, etc. At the same time, some of the previous administrative functions of the seven states and divisions could be maintained, and their representation built into a national legislature but not necessarily exactly on the model of the 1947 constitution. These two administrative layers would not necessarily be inconsistent with each other. As the center devolves authority to the state and divisions, so the states could devolve certain t! ypes of authority to the townships. The groups receiving such local ‘self-administration’ would be pleased to have the greatest degree of autonomy they have experienced, although groups such as the Shan and Kayah would see their former limited autonomy during the civilian period erode further.

These approaches themselves would be inadequate without the military receding into the background in minority areas. This would involve the military retaining responsibility for the maintenance of the borders and the garrison of such troops necessary to ensure the preservation of the state and to deal with such issues as transnational crimes, including narcotics trafficking, illegal migration, etc. But it would necessarily involve the military in the training of minority peoples in aspects of local public administration starting long before such a new system were to come into effect–perhaps during a two-year period. An administrative cadre needs to be created to take over the administration of township and state-level offices and functions, now run by the military. Those remainin! g from the previous civilian era are too few, old, and outdated to staff the positions that would be required under such a system; such positions are now dominated by the military. A staged military withdrawal from local administration would be an important element of any amelioration of minority issues; continuation of direct military administration, even under a ‘civilianized’ administration, would exacerbate problems.

Budgetary issues have long been a problem, with minorities in the civilian period proclaiming that they did not receive an adequate share of national resources. A more effective system of sharing of such resources needs to be determined in consultation with various minority groups. These budgetary arrangements under present and likely near-term future conditions would require that the percentage of funding going to the military budget, both officially and publicly recognized and that buried in other accounts, be reduced, for without sufficient economic incentives any solution to the minority issues will not take place.

The devolution of some significant authority in local affairs should not alone be concentrated in minority regions. The Burman divisions also should be included, because the 1990 election indirectly indicated dissatisfaction with the lack of local participation in the administrative processes. There are few models from which Myanmar could adapt a local autonomy system in ASEAN. Most of the states are effectively under centralized control. The Philippines has proceeded rapidly to decentralize, and Indonesia has embarked on a massive program to do the same at the district level, bypassing the province. Although these moves may encourage greater democratization, they also can spread ecological and health problems, as central control evolves to less circumspect local officials. The p! ositive and negative lessons from those experiences could prove instructive.

Local state and/or township authority should extend to educational systems, in which local languages may be taught as long as the national language of Burmese is also included in the curriculum. This has not been possible under any Burmese administration, and the change would likely be greeted with enthusiasm by local peoples. Language is one of the critical indicators of identity, and preservation and use has become intimately associated with nationalism. Language policy has been a critical component of ethnic complaints on every continent, even inciting rebellion (witness Sri Lanka).

The granting of certain rights to the minorities is necessary but not sufficient. Ironically, as the state should loosen control over the peripheral minority areas, it must tighten control over the military command system. The regional military commanders, who have been elevated to inclusion on the SPDC, need to come under central authority to control their arbitrary actions that only serve to undercut centrally mandated change. Some regional commanders have become the equivalent of warlords with wide discretionary authority. Further, they have remained in their posts far longer than in previous administrations, thus strengthening their control. The state should redefine their nonmilitary functions, reducing their authority over civilian administration and control.

Finally, the military should actively recruit (as once they did) minorities into the senior military leadership. There seems little question that the military will retain effective and ultimate power within the state as they have done since independence and under any likely future government over the next decade or two, even though some positions will probably be provided to civilian leadership and retired military, and that opposition parties may be allowed to function more fairly. This will occur through military representation in a national legislature and through other means. Simply because it is most probable that the military, which has created a dual society—an ascendent military and a subservient civilian (of any ethnic background) one—that is pervasive, that the military! should share some of that power with minorities who can rise within the military ranks as evidence of the fairness of the government and as a means to alleviate ethnic discrimination.

These suggestions are unlikely to be instituted. Yet they could constitute the beginnings of a set of compromises that could have important implications for the defusion of the antagonisms that have caused the loss of so many lives over so many years, and pauperized what should have been a rich and vibrant region of the country. If the immediate problems of the minorities can be assuaged, then the lessons from that process could assist any central government through creating administrative and representational models. Final authority essentially would remain in Burman hands, but under a system regarded as much more fair. Because the military have the authority and power in the state, they must assume greater responsibility to start a process through which the tensions could be am! eliorated and eventually resolved.

The Role of Japan

Since the early 1950s, Japan has played the most important role in Burma-Myanmar of any foreign industrialized state. Historically, this relationship began to flower with the Japanese training of the anti-colonial ‘30 comrades’ in 1940, two of whom were Aung San and Ne Win. Even though the Japanese-induced independent state of Burma in World War II was spurious, and the Burmese turned against the Japanese in the spring of 1945, many Burmese active in that period still remain close to Japan. Beginning with reparations in the mid 1950s, Japan provided $2.2 billion in economic assistance in loans and grants until the 1988 coup.24 Since then, new lending has stopped, but assistance has continued to be provided for completing old projects, humanitarian assistance (sometimes stretching! its definition), and debt relief. Over $500 million has been provided in that period.

The Japanese aid program has undergone revision, and various human rights and good governance provisions have been applied to foreign support, although they have been only sporadically employed (e.g., Indonesia under Suharto). Among the industrialized states, however, Japan and the United States are at opposite ends of the assistance pole: the United States has been rigid in its prohibition on U.S. aid and later on new investment, while Japan has taken a lenient stance. Japanese firms had petitioned the Japanese Embassy in Rangoon for recognition of the regime in 1990, and since then have lobbied for both aid and investment. Japan has been caught between its close relationship with the United States, which opposes any but humanitarian assistance and then not to the government, an! d Keidanren and various ministries that want to restart lending. The emotional attachment of Japan to Burma-Myanmar is very strong.25

During the Ne Win era (which may not yet have reached its final moments), Japanese diplomats had more access to the Burmese leadership than those of any other country. Even as early as 1958, Ne Win was quoted during the ‘Caretaker’ military government as wishing to import Japanese farmers to teach productive farming to the Burmese in the Mu River valley. Today, the treatment of visiting Japanese by the government has been the most friendly of any OECD country. Japan continues to play a critical foreign role today. This, then, gives Japan a great opportunity to affect positively the process of reform in that country, but it also creates a greater responsibility to do so with foresight and deftness. Perhaps because Japan did not want to take a high profile role in Burma-Myanmar in ! the 1970s and 1980s, it never sufficiently pressed for economic reforms that were needed (neither did the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, U.S. and Federal Republic of Germany assistance). Political changes before 1988, to this writer’s knowledge, were never seriously discussed by any donor.

In 1999, this writer accompanied a distinguished Japanese delegation to Yangon, and recommended at that time that Japan provide humanitarian assistance through Japanese and international NGOs and through the UNDP because it would support needed help to the poor, train future Japanese specialists on Burma-Myanmar, strengthen the Japanese NGOs, and help begin the process or rebuilding civil society in Myanmar. But he recommended against restarting lending until significant changes took place in the political economy. In a sense, Japanese policy seems to have been to encourage change through provision of support, while the U.S. has withheld support until change occurs. This writer believes that an intermediate position of humanitarian aid and staged assistance through confidence-bui! lding measures would be the most reasonable approach.

But any assistance, even negotiations, should take place in a quiet, measured atmosphere without public hectoring that plays to the internal politics of the potential donor and encourages emotional nationalistic responses and defense. A former Japanese ambassador to the U.S. at a lecture at Georgetown University, when asked what was the single most important thing the U.S. could do to improve Japanese-U.S. relations, replied that the U.S. should stop criticizing Japan in public. That advice remains sound for a broad spectrum of international relations.

APPENDIX: David I. Steinberg, ‘Myanmar: Military Rule and the Undermining of Civil Society,’ in Nat J. Colletta, Teck Ghee Lim, & Anita Kelles-Viitanes, eds. Social Cohesion and Conflict Prevention in Asia. Managing Diversity Through Development. Washington, D.C. The World Bank, 2001.

David I Steinberg is Director of Asian Studies, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, and a senior consultant to The Asia Foundation. He is the author of four books and numerous articles on Burma-Myanmar. His latest volume is Burma: The State of Myanmar (Washington, D.C., Georgetown University Press, 2001). The views expressed herein are his alone.

Source: Online Burma Library (JAPAN INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, At The Front Lines Of Conflict Prevention In Asia Conference July 6-7, 2001 Tokyo)

by International Crisis Group

Since the 1988 uprising and 1990 election in Burma/Myanmar, foreign governments and international organisations have promoted democratisation as the solution to the country’s manifold problems, including ethnic conflict, endemic social instability, and general underdevelopment. Over time, however, as the political stalemate has continued and data on the socio-economic conditions in the country have improved, there has been a growing recognition that the political crisis is paralleled by a humanitarian crisis that requires more immediate and direct international attention. Donors face a dilemma. On the one hand, the humanitarian imperative raises difficult questions about the sustainability of international strategies based on coercive diplomacy and economic isolation, which have greatly limited international assistance! to Myanmar. On the other hand, there is widespread concern that re-engagement, even in the form of limited humanitarian assistance, could undermine the quest for political change and long-term improvements.

This policy dilemma raises two basic questions: Should international assistance to Myanmar be increased? And, if so, how can this be done in a responsible and effective way? This report answers the first of these questions with an unequivocal ‘yes’. There should be more international assistance in Myanmar, more resources, more agencies, and more programs in a wider number of sectors. The human costs of social deprivation in Myanmar are simply too large to be ignored until some indefinite democratic future, which could be years, or even decades, away. In the meantime, international development agencies are making a significant difference bringing relief and new opportunities to vulnerable groups, building local capacities, even helping to rationalise policy-making and planning – and they could do a lot more. Importantly! , so far at least, there are no indications that these efforts are having significant political costs, whether in terms of strengthening the regime or undermining the movement for change.

Those who oppose international assistance, or at least are cautious about it, point out that Myanmar’s development for a long time has been hostage to political interests and that any sustainable, long-term solutions would have to involve fundamental changes in the system of government. They are also concerned that the current government will reject international advice and maintain development policies and priorities that are partly responsible for the current problems.

However, these obstacles should be actively addressed rather than left for some future democratic government to tackle. Instead of placing absolute constraints on international assistance, the focus should be on improving monitoring and distribution to minimise existing problems and facilitate more aid reaching people in need. If properly applied, international assistance could in fact serve to promote political reconciliation and build the social capital necessary for a successful democratic transition.

Foreign governments and donors do not face a choice between promoting political change or supporting social development in Myanmar. Both strategies would have to be integral parts of any genuine effort to help this country and promote stability and welfare for its 50 million people, as well as the broader region. In order to facilitate responsible and effective delivery of more international assistance, all the main protagonists, inside and outside the country, need to reassess their positions and do their part to generate the kind of cooperation and synergy that has so far been lacking.



1. Accept that it is not necessary to choose between promoting political change and supporting social development in Myanmar: both strategies need to be part of an integral effort to create stability and improve social welfare.

2. Provide more aid to tackle poverty, illness and the shortfall in education.

3. Work with both local civil society organisations and government bodies to help develop overall capacities for aid management.

4. Strengthen current oversight mechanisms, in particular by setting up an inter-governmental aid consortium with monitoring functions to liase with UN and international non-governmental development organisations (INGO) inter-agency groups in Myanmar.

5. Use aid to attract increased government funding, for example, by ‘matching’ government expenditure in priority sectors and encouraging specific ‘joint-venture’ development projects.

6. Take care that other political tools are wielded with due consideration to their humanitarian and human rights impact – and, for that purpose, commission an impact assessment of all existing and potential future sanctions by a neutral body of economic and development experts.


7. Place a greater emphasis on human development by:

(a) cutting back defence spending and moving more resources to health and education; and (b) reconsidering the current top-down approach to development, which fails to activate all the country’s resources.

8. Facilitate increased international assistance by:

(c) demonstrating clearer commitment to resolving the country’s socio-economic problems by providing more resources and changing policies that do not produce results; (d) minimising the obstructions currently placed on foreign aid organisations in the country; and, (e) increasing the scope for international actors to work with local NGOs.

9. Take more advantage of the wealth of knowledge and development experience outside the country, including in neighbouring countries and among fellow members of ASEAN.


10. Formulate a public plan for international assistance that recognises needs and priorities for expanded humanitarian assistance.

11. Support efforts to strengthen the state’s capacity to formulate and implement policy, in preparation for a smooth political transition.

12. Encourage donors and aid organisations to fund local development NGOs and work with community groups.


13. Expand the UNDP’s mandate in Myanmar to allow it broader involvement in policy issues and administrative capacity building.

14. Use the significant leverage of the UN system with the government to negotiate a framework more conducive to the effective functioning of all aid organisations in the country, including the INGOs and local civil society organisations.

15. Do more to challenge inaccurate official figures and other data, whether overly pessimistic or optimistic, which distort the situation in the country.

16. Work to maintain current standards of accountability of NGOs as their numbers expand and funding increases, for example, by formalising the INGO Joint Operation Principles and establishing an NGO Council, which could service individual organisations and liase with donors and the national government.

17. Be prepared to lower standards of transparency and accountability in exceptional circumstances, viz. where needed in order to reach people in sensitive areas and sectors where security requires full confidentiality.

18. Strengthen coordination to avoid duplication of projects and pool information and ideas.

Bangkok/Brussels, 2 April 2002


Critique Of The International Crisis Groups’s Report

By Dr. Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe


N.B. The Executive Summary (pp.1-3) contains all the points and arguments raised in the paper. As such, comments and critical notes of the Executive summary provided herewith, can be regarded as a critique of the whole paper, or as addressing the salient points of the paper as a whole.

ON THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY [referred in the report as “overview”] [1] First of all, it is not clear in the paper what it means by “international assistance”. In the Burma context, is it in reference only to humanitarian assistance or to development assistance as well?

The two are different international aid categories. The paper contributes to the confusion by making no distinction between them, and by going from one to the other in an arbitrary, confusing, and ambiguous manner.

Development assistance in the Burma context is problematic, very much so. Humanitarian assistance on the other hand will however not be as problematic.

The lack of clarity, gives a strong impression that the paper (and the author or authors) is arguing for development assistance, while using the humanitarian assistance point of reference and context. This is what is most troubling about the paper as a whole.

[2.A] **p.1, col.1 and 2, in the Executive Summary** The paper says that international development agencies (IDAs) are making significant difference to the most vulnerable groups (…etc) in Burma.

The above is a sweeping statement, and which may apply perhaps to the Kachin State, to a certain extent. The people in this state and in Burma Proper are, comparatively speaking, not the most vulnerable. The most vulnerable are population living (or hiding) in areas decreed by the military government (military GOM) as BLACK and GREY areas. There is very little presence of the IDAs there because they are – according to the military GOM — “sensitive” areas, or lacking in security.

The Black and Grey areas are literally free fire zones, and the population are not only IDPs, but treated by military patrols as outlaws, and are therefore at great risk of being killed, raped, etc., at will. They are reduced to living in hiding, and are hunted by the regime’s troops, and whatever meager crops they plant for bare survival are destroyed by search-and-destroy patrols or columns. They live lives that are not better than hunted animals.

[2.B] **Site, as above** The paper says that the assistance provided by the IDAs do not have “any significant political cost” vis-B-vis strengthening the regime or undermining the movement for change.

The above raises this question: What is meant by “political costs”? This is a puzzling statement, even meaningless at a deeper level, and lacks proper or defined context.

One could interpret the statement as saying that the IDAs do not make any difference either way, and more importantly, that they (the IDAs) and the assistance they provide are politically neutral. How true or valid is this statement? Can assistance in a context where the government (or the state) is military-run, military-led, illegitimate, and repressive, and wedded to the status quo – opposed to political change — be politically neutral, or not costly to the movement for change? Or is the paper saying that all things being equal, the people are the only ones gaining the most from the IDAs’ presence and actions? This is not the case (See note 2.A, above).

[3.A] **p.1, col.2** Agree with the paper that there is a need for “fundamental changes” in the system. However, the paper does not talk about this need, although it does constructively, and often obliquely, refers to the flaws of the current system here and there

[3.B] The paper says that the military GOM rejects international advice and maintains “development policies and priorities, which are partly responsible for the current problems.” However, this statement,

(a) understates the destruction to the country and the population wrought by the military GOM’s arbitrary rule and repression (by representing it as “development policies and priorities”). It gives the impression that the military GOM was well-intentioned, but things went wrong, anyhow, and

(b) underestimates what it terms “problems”. They are not problems. They are major crises, and are owed largely to the military GOM’s protracted misrule, etc.

[3.C] The paper states that the military GOM rejects international advice and refuses to change its ways – i.e., to change its “development policies and priorities” (sic). If this is the case, one may usefully ask if there is any point in giving the regime international assistance, even though the bulk of the aid may be intended by donors for the people, not the government? This is a slippery down-slope road to travel.

[3.D] The paper recommends the inflow of international assistance and urge improved monitoring and distribution. To comment, “monitoring” is good sounding, but it is most problematic, all the more so if the IDAs do not have the political will and are moreover fearful of offending the military GOM, or are overly sensitive and responsive to its sensitivities.

[4.A] **p.1, col.2** The paper states that foreign governments and donors should both promote political change and social development. This is a curious statement in the Burma context especially.

What is meant by “social development” is not made clear in the paper, however.

Common sense however tells us that social development is geared to promoting or achieving something better, usually – and more so, nowadays — political change in the democratic direction, or is meant to.

If such is the case, does the paper mean that the goal of international donors in providing development assistance is to promote political change? Or is the paper saying that the inflow of development assistance will result in or bring about social development and thus political change in Burma (albeit in the very long run)? [ NOTE: The thesis that social development (or, as is often argued, economic development) will bring about political change, although generally valid in the abstract, does not always hold true. This is a very slippery and dubious argument.]

The simple fact of the matter is that the military GOM does not want any change, much less political changes, and wants “development” as it defines it – i.e., maintain its hold on power and achieve greater control and repression capacity.

The question that therefore arises is: will the military GOM allow or welcome social development that is geared to political changes in the democratic direction? In this regard, the paper does acknowledge however that the military GOM does not want any kind of development that will erode the status quo it prefers.

[5] **p.2, col.1** The paper recommends that the main protagonists reassess their position and do their part to generate cooperation and synergy that has been lacking. This seems like a “sound good, feel good” statement.

The military GOM – the military regime – do not want to cooperate with anyone inside the country. It only wants to be obeyed and to maintain tight control. It is quite obvious that the military will not cooperate with anyone – including the IDAs and foreign governments – unless forced to by circumstance or is actively pressured.

A question that should be raised but is not, is what will international actors – governments and donor – do to persuade the military GOM to cooperate with the opposition if or when it (the opposition) wishes or agrees to work with the military GOM as a problem-resolving partner? Another question is, to what length will the international actors go in persuading the protagonists to cooperate?

[6] **Recommendation 1** Even though excellent, the recommendations alone, and the inflow of foreign assistance — in the “business as usual” or conventional way — will not persuade the military GOM to go this route. It is not interested in formalizing the current talks, sharing power, nor in including major stakeholders in the political process. What is needed is a firm, focused, and solid international front that does not believe in appeasing the military GOM in the faint or wistful hope that it will become and behave more like a government.

[7] **Recommendation 4** The points mentioned, i.e., the GOM’s need to demonstrate a realistic understanding of the problems; minimize the obstructions currently placed on aid organizations; and increase the scope for international actors to work with local NGOs – these are good points. It is however unrealistic to expect much attention to these points from the GOM in particular, and the military in general, in the current situation, and without firm international persuasion.

[8] **Recommendation 6** Most useful. Perhaps NLD leaders inside have not been approached in this regard, requested a detailed policy paper on humanitarian aid.

It is however not clear in this paper on what is meant by “international assistance”. See #1, above. [ NOTE: Development assistance was provided the previous GOM (of General Ne Win) in the 1970s. The end result was that it appealed to the international community to grant Burma the status of Least Developed Country in 1987, after claiming for decades that it was developing the country. ] [9] **Recommendation 7** Ambiguous. What is meant precisely by “state capacity”, and which or what kind of state? The context is missing.

In Burma, the state managed by the military – the GOM — is not neutral, not the government of the people, i.e., it is the creature of the military, highly partisan, excludes broader society, and is not public service oriented. “State capacity” is patently defined by the GOM (and the military brass) as its capacity to maintain power and control, etc. It is most inappropriate therefore for any responsible scholar or well-intentioned group to recommend that the NLD and everyone to strengthen the capacity of the current state.

If by “state capacity” is meant serving the public or the people, there has first of all to be a fundamental political change.

[10] **Recommendation 10** International donors – and international NGOs as well – should certainly work with both the state and broader society forces, but it should be on an equal footing and formally/officially as well.

[11] **Recommendation 17** “Be prepared to lower the standard of transparency and accountability…” Why? This recommendation seems directed at encouraging international aid actors to defer tamely to the GOM, and to accept its arbitrary definition of “sensitive areas”, “security”, and “confidentiality”.

[12] **Recommendations 14-18 (excepting the above)** These are excellent. But it seems that there is lacking political will on the part of outside actors to take on these recommendations in a serious and focused manner. The excellent recommendations, #14-18, are more or less, and in varying degrees, negated or subverted by recommendation #17 above.

Dr. Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe tutored at Rangoon University’s English Dept. from 1960-62, joined the Shan armed resistance in 1963. He was with the Shan State Army till 1977 and came to Canada in 1985. He went back to school at University of British Columbia to get a Master and a Phd and taught, mostly 3rd year classes, for more than 7 years at UBC and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada.

A Test Case for Preventive Diplomacy (The Burmese Scene)

By Kanbawza Win

The “Hush Hush Talks” between the Junta and the pro democracy movement led by the Burmese Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been going on at a snail pace for more than a year and the UN special Envoy Razali Ismail will soon be on his 7th trip but so far nothing has been achieved. Likewise the International Labour Organization, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights on Burma, the European Union’s Troika mission and several government missions have come and gone with no definite milestone to report. Now it has dawned on the international community that Burmese Junta is very reluctant on dialogue lest their hold on the power may be threatened and exposed their gregarious human rights violations.

In this aspect the Burmese military Junta is somewhat like a “bull”, a drought animal for pulling plough in agricultural Burma. The “bull” is so lazy to pull the plough that some one has to pull him by the nose front while another person has to whip him from the back. Thus in the dialogue process, the Burmese Nobel laureate, together with the exiled provisional government better known as the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma and the ethnic forces have to pull it from the front, while the ILO, the UN and the Western countries have to baton him from the back to make it move. Even then it move slowly.

Talking to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi instead of wild attack in their media, releasing a few political prisoners and allowing the National League for Democracy (NLD, the winning party in the elections) to open their office in Rangoon are just some small positive gestures responded grudgingly by the Junta to ease both domestic, economic and international pressure. The dialogue have help them to gain some legitimacy for international aid while at the same time consolidated their position such as business deals with neighbouring countries so much so that they hope the international community would eventually have to bite the bullet and accept the status quo.

One can ask of why did the bull move so slowly, the answer is simple, because it is strong having eaten a lot of grass and other nutritious food i.e multilateral corporations and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) led by Malaysia and Singapore under the smokescreen of “Constructive Engagement” have been given tactical support to the Burmese military Junta. Imagine TotalFinaElf alone has to give $400 million annually just for the right to extract oil, not to mention Premier Oil of Britain and UNCOAL of the US. In this age of globalization where more and more power has been transferred from the governments to the big companies whose! sole motive is to make profit, Burma seems to be the test case where the Western moral values have to yield to business considerations.

On the other hand the pro democracy and ethnic leaders have quietly attended the Paris Conference on their way back from Oslo where at the French National Assembly they paint the likely and alternative scenario to the international community .The most conspicuous point is that will the international community accept Burma as Yugoslavia or Afghanistan? For throughout history; the Burmese kingdoms were founded on military strength and not through the hearts and minds of the people. It was only in 1947 prior to independence from Britain did Bogyoke Aung San leader of the Myanmar, a major militant tribe somewhat equal to the Taliban of Afghanistan attended the “Panglong Conference” as an equal partner of the nationalities, and founde! d the Union of Burma. However, Karen, Karenni (Kayah) Arakanese and Mon nationalities having experienced the long treacherous traits of the Myanmar leaders which was amply demonstrated during the Japanese occupation refrained from attending the Conference which later resulted in outright rebellion.

But the spirit of the Union prevailed, the proof of it was demonstrated when one nationality (e.g. Karen) or the Burmese Communist threatened Rangoon all the other ethnic groups joined hands to defend the Union. But this Union spirit was destroyed by the Burmese army coup in 1962 led by General Ne Win, who with his “Burmese Way to Socialism” took the country to the least developed status in the world. A mass demonstration resulted in 1988 was put down cruelly by shooting into the crowds and killing some 20,000 in six Burmese cities. The popular leader, the Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi daughter Aung San (the founding father of the Union of Burma) was effectively put under house arrest up to this day ! while the ethnic cleansing and forced relocation of the ethnic groups was carried on with might and main.

So after half a century of civil war, the ethnic leaders have taken the initiative by launching a ‘Tripartite Dialogue’ proposal i.e the military, the NLD and the ethnic nationalities based on the spirit of the former “Panglong Conference” to promote a peaceful political settlement and is appealing to the international community. It is to be remembered that Burma faced a constitutional problem – not a minority problem because the word minority will be just a few percentage of the population while the ethnic nationalities consist of 47%of the population and more than 55% of the country’s area (371,000 square miles bigger than Germany itself).

The Junta used to counter the nationalities as “Tribes” or “Hill Tribes” a term which denotes that Myanmar is the only civilized people and it is the bounden duty for the Myanmar to civilize these tribes. This belies the superior complex and the chauvinistic attitude on the part of the Myanmar, when it is a historical fact that Arakan, and Mon kingdoms preceded the Burmese kingdom at least by 500 years while the first Burmese kingdom was recorded only in 1044 AD. Besides the ethnic nationalities never fight against each other as in Yugoslavia where ethnic people killed each other. The nationalities fight only against the Myanmar chauvinism spearheaded by the Burmese army which somewhat equivalent to Taliban’s version of fund! amentalism. Hence it is neither a minority problem or tribal problem or an ethnic problem which can be solved once democracy prevailed. The Burmese problem is not a horizontal problem but a vertical one, which has its bases on constitution that can be solved only through negotiations. This explicitly means that democracy, military rule and the constitution are intrinsically intertwined and cannot be resolved one without the other. This is the crux of the Burmese problem..

The Junta’s justification is that there are 135 national races or tribes in Burma implies that it is impossible to cater to everyone and therefore it is necessary to have a strong military to hold the country together. But the fact of the matter is that 65 of these so called 135 races reside in Chin hills (villages on top of the hills are so high that it is very difficult to communicate with each other naturally resulted in different dialect) which constitutes only 3% of the Burmese population. The different tribes speaking different dialects have live peaceably since time immemorial The Junta’s theory is not only to maintain a perpetual powerful army to suppress the democratic forces but also “divide and ru! le” policy over the nationalities.

The beauty of the Paris Conference is that it was initiated by non other than Karen and Karenni both of whom were not even signatory to the Panglong Conference of 1947. Together with Shan Democratic Union (the largest state in the Union of Burma) these leaders make it clear that they their only desire is to live in peace and harmony with all the people of the world once their rights are observe. It is to be seen whether the international community would use its preventive diplomacy and help oust the Burmese Taliban (Junta) and encourage the pro de! mocratic and ethnic forces (Burmese Northern Alliance) to create a Fed eral Democratic Union of Burma or left to its fate as in Yugoslavia.

By Richard Zatu

Can you identify a Chin national in the streets of Yangon, Mandalay or elsewhere? Chances are that you can’t. However, you’ll be able, most of the time, to tell an Indian or a Chinese by the colour of his skin. But it is difficult, sometimes impossible, to differentiate other racial groups of Myanmar from another by appearance since we all have similar skin colour and roughly the same body build.

One way to know a certain national is by the clothes he wears. Some people will know a Chin national by the “Chin” longyi, htamein or jacket he puts on or the “Chin” Shan bag slinging over his shoulders or the “Chin” tie in his neck. But this could be deceptive for anyone can buy these and wear them. A pair of trousers is more common among the Chins than other ethnic groups in our country. But this is not an accurate or proper way of finding out who is a Chin. More and more Chins, especially government employees, are clad in the Burmese pasoe and taikpon and an increasing number of people in Myanmar are putting on a pair of long pants. This means that you cannot identify a Chin national, or any other nationals for that matter, with the clothes on their backs. But it is often one of the many ways by which to recognize a racial group.

Older Chin males have the lob of their ears perforated for wearing an earring. This was one good way of identifying a Chin. But younger Chins have stopped the practice. So perforated ears is no longer a sign of our Chinness.

The identification marks mentioned above are mostly physical and are therefore easily recognizable. But there are many other ways in which the Chin people could be identified.

For example, a good way to recognize a Chin is by hearing someone speaks one of the many Chin dialects. But of course there’s always an exception to the rule. People of other racial groups may also speak Chin if they had lived in Chin State long enough.

Still another method to find out the identity of a Chin is by hearing someone speak Burmese or English with a Chin accent. But one has to be familiar with the accent first.

One sure way to know a Chin is to understand that he has a Chin name since no other racial group will adopt one. But one has to be familiar with Chin names first.

Although an overwhelming majority of the Chin people are Christians, no knowledgeable person ever identify a people by faith. And it will be impossible to know a person’s faith unless you ask him and he tells you. But the knowledge of the faith of a person by asking or by any other ways often helps other persons to know the former’s identity.

Of course there are many more ways of identifying a Chin or members of other tribal groups – like the food he eats, the songs he sings, the customs he is required to follow. But these are not easily perceived unless one interacts or mixed with the people in question.

All these means that the Chin person is difficult to recognize because he has little identifications marks.

So if you meet a Chin young man with a Burmese name wearing a pasoe and a taikpon or a T shirt and a jean and doesn’t know any Chin dialect and speaks to you in perfect Burmese or in English with a Burmese accent, you won’t be able to know that the young man you are speaking to is a Chin. Such young men and women can be seen everywhere.

The above mentioned examples are not the only means by which people can recognize a Chin or other racial groups. If a certain ethnic group is well represented in the government, the military, the professions, business, in music or even in sports, their presence will still be felt and they will still be visible among other racial groups. Unfortunately, this is not the case for the Chin people. Time was when there were Chin ministers of government, Chin Ambassadors, Chin high ranking military officers, well-known Chin boxers, footballers, tennis players. But this is history now. We can say we are no longer as visible as before.

Globalization makes the countries of the world more and more like each other in every respect. Larger economies and more advanced civilizations are encroaching upon other smaller economies and less developed civilizations. States and cultures are unable or unwilling to stem the tide.

Some languages like English and French, especially English, have mostly replaced native tongues of a large number of nations. It has become the lingua franca of many countries and the second language of many more others. It has become the language of diplomacy, commerce and science. English has become the international language of choice. This is a phenomenon in which internationalization threatens other cultures and identities.

Similarly and more easily, larger population and more advanced culture and language within a single country can absorb or edge out smaller ones. Myanmar is no exception. Most of our brethren in Myanmar have now the same faith, the same mode of dress with the Burmese majority, the same culture and have now largely adopted Burmese language and names. So they are more or less like the Burmese and have mostly lost their identity.

Compared to other racial groups in our country, we might say that the Chin people still could retain much of their identity. We can say this because, unlike other states, Chin State is the only state in Myanmar where nearly all its inhabitants are the people that bears the name of the state. Unlike other states and divisions, it is the only state where most of its inhabitants are Christians. Unlike other states, it is the state where Burmese is not widely spoken. Unlike other states, with the exception of Kachin State, it is where the ethnic names as opposed to Burmese ones are given widely. Unlike other states or divisions, it is the state where western (make this international) attire as opposed to Burmese dress is most widely worn.

But in recent past, the Chin people, like our brethren before us, came in droves to live and settle down in Yangon, Mandalay, or elsewhere. Like our brethren we have and will be adopting the cultures, languages, and mode of dress of the Burmese majority. The Chin young men and women have already and are going to marry outside of their race since they will be mixing with people of other ethnic groups. Chances are that their children will have non-Chin names and will speak no Chin. They will have nothing to do with the Chins. They will be assimilated with others, and we will be assimilated. This is a natural process. We can’t stem the tide.

In this way we as a people will lose much of our identity in the not-too-distant future if the present trend continues. And the trend is likely to continue. It is beyond our control. Or is it? Source: “Thinking about Christianity and the Chins in Myanmar”, Yangon, March 1999, Pp 92 – 94.

By Richard Zatu

Can you identify a Chin national in the streets of Yangon, Mandalay or elsewhere? Chances are that you can’t. However, you’ll be able, most of the time, to tell an Indian or a Chinese by the colour of his skin. But it is difficult, sometimes impossible, to differentiate other racial groups of Myanmar from another by appearance since we all have similar skin colour and roughly the same body build.

One way to know a certain national is by the clothes he wears. Some people will know a Chin national by the “Chin” longyi, htamein or jacket he puts on or the “Chin” Shan bag slinging over his shoulders or the “Chin” tie in his neck. But this could be deceptive for anyone can buy these and wear them. A pair of trousers is more common among the Chins than other ethnic groups in our country. But this is not an accurate or proper way of finding out who is a Chin. More and more Chins, especially government employees, are clad in the Burmese pasoe and taikpon and an increasing number of people in Myanmar are putting on a pair of long pants. This means that you cannot identify a Chin national, or any other nationals for that matter, with the clothes on their backs. But it is often one of the many ways by which to recognize a racial group.

Older Chin males have the lob of their ears perforated for wearing an earring. This was one good way of identifying a Chin. But younger Chins have stopped the practice. So perforated ears is no longer a sign of our Chinness.

The identification marks mentioned above are mostly physical and are therefore easily recognizable. But there are many other ways in which the Chin people could be identified.

For example, a good way to recognize a Chin is by hearing someone speaks one of the many Chin dialects. But of course there’s always an exception to the rule. People of other racial groups may also speak Chin if they had lived in Chin State long enough.

Still another method to find out the identity of a Chin is by hearing someone speak Burmese or English with a Chin accent. But one has to be familiar with the accent first.

One sure way to know a Chin is to understand that he has a Chin name since no other racial group will adopt one. But one has to be familiar with Chin names first.

Although an overwhelming majority of the Chin people are Christians, no knowledgeable person ever identify a people by faith. And it will be impossible to know a person’s faith unless you ask him and he tells you. But the knowledge of the faith of a person by asking or by any other ways often helps other persons to know the former’s identity.

Of course there are many more ways of identifying a Chin or members of other tribal groups – like the food he eats, the songs he sings, the customs he is required to follow. But these are not easily perceived unless one interacts or mixed with the people in question.

All these means that the Chin person is difficult to recognize because he has little identifications marks.

So if you meet a Chin young man with a Burmese name wearing a pasoe and a taikpon or a T shirt and a jean and doesn’t know any Chin dialect and speaks to you in perfect Burmese or in English with a Burmese accent, you won’t be able to know that the young man you are speaking to is a Chin. Such young men and women can be seen everywhere.

The above mentioned examples are not the only means by which people can recognize a Chin or other racial groups. If a certain ethnic group is well represented in the government, the military, the professions, business, in music or even in sports, their presence will still be felt and they will still be visible among other racial groups. Unfortunately, this is not the case for the Chin people. Time was when there were Chin ministers of government, Chin Ambassadors, Chin high ranking military officers, well-known Chin boxers, footballers, tennis players. But this is history now. We can say we are no longer as visible as before.

Globalization makes the countries of the world more and more like each other in every respect. Larger economies and more advanced civilizations are encroaching upon other smaller economies and less developed civilizations. States and cultures are unable or unwilling to stem the tide.

Some languages like English and French, especially English, have mostly replaced native tongues of a large number of nations. It has become the lingua franca of many countries and the second language of many more others. It has become the language of diplomacy, commerce and science. English has become the international language of choice. This is a phenomenon in which internationalization threatens other cultures and identities.

Similarly and more easily, larger population and more advanced culture and language within a single country can absorb or edge out smaller ones. Myanmar is no exception. Most of our brethren in Myanmar have now the same faith, the same mode of dress with the Burmese majority, the same culture and have now largely adopted Burmese language and names. So they are more or less like the Burmese and have mostly lost their identity.

Compared to other racial groups in our country, we might say that the Chin people still could retain much of their identity. We can say this because, unlike other states, Chin State is the only state in Myanmar where nearly all its inhabitants are the people that bears the name of the state. Unlike other states and divisions, it is the only state where most of its inhabitants are Christians. Unlike other states, it is the state where Burmese is not widely spoken. Unlike other states, with the exception of Kachin State, it is where the ethnic names as opposed to Burmese ones are given widely. Unlike other states or divisions, it is the state where western (make this international) attire as opposed to Burmese dress is most widely worn.

But in recent past, the Chin people, like our brethren before us, came in droves to live and settle down in Yangon, Mandalay, or elsewhere. Like our brethren we have and will be adopting the cultures, languages, and mode of dress of the Burmese majority. The Chin young men and women have already and are going to marry outside of their race since they will be mixing with people of other ethnic groups. Chances are that their children will have non-Chin names and will speak no Chin. They will have nothing to do with the Chins. They will be assimilated with others, and we will be assimilated. This is a natural process. We can’t stem the tide.

In this way we as a people will lose much of our identity in the not-too-distant future if the present trend continues. And the trend is likely to continue. It is beyond our control. Or is it? Source: “Thinking about Christianity and the Chins in Myanmar”, Yangon, March 1999, Pp 92 – 94.

US Refugee Policy Should Include Persecuted Christians in Annual Admissions
Persecuted Karen, Karenni, and Chin Christians Not Allowed

Refugee resettlement embodies America’s humanitarian tradition. In a time of increasing tension and conflict, it is essential that America’s door remains open to victims of violence and intolerance who have no other place to go.

The legal basis of the refugee admissions program is the Refugee Act of 1980, which defines a refugee in words that closely track those of the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees: “a refugee is a person who is outside his/her country and is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of a well-founded fear that he/she will be persecuted because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” The Act also allows the President to extend this definition to certain persons still resident in countries he specifies.

Christians Overlooked

Unfortunately, several persecuted communities in Burma with strong historical ties to the U.S. have been overlooked by this policy. The Karen, Karenni, and Chin people are systematically persecuted by the Burmese military government. A very high percentage of these people are Christian and are oppressed because of their ethnicity and faith. These people were our allies in the 2nd World War and fought side by side with our soldiers to repel the Axis forces. They were promised by the British that they would have their own homeland after the war, but it never happened. After the war the Burmese majority–who sided with the Axis–engaged in a policy of ethnic cleansing that continues to this day. The situation deteriorated greatly in 1988 when the military took over the government. The Karen, Karenni, and Chin have been fighting for survival for nearly fifty years, and could be considered the “forgotten people.”

Currently more than 100,000 Karen, Karenni, and Chin men, women, and children live in refugee camps in Thailand and India. Thousands more are internally displaced in the Burmese jungle. These internally displaced individuals are cutoff from outside assistance and live one step ahead of roving Burmese soldiers.

In FY 1998 the ceiling for refugee admissions from East Asia was 14,000. In the first seven months of that year, some 4,400 refugees arrived in the U.S., only 86 were from Burma. Most of these were ethnic Burmese.

In FY 1999, 10,204 refugees entered the United States from East Asia. The majority of FY 1999 admissions were from Vietnam. Again, most, if not all the Burma admissions were ethnic Burmese.

Time for Change

It is time for the United States to remember our forgotten allies and specifically include the Karen, Karenni, and Chin refugees and displaced persons in the annual admissions from East Asia.

Please Contact your Congressional Representatives in Washington today.

Source: Christian Freedom International Website

Rev. Dr. Chum Awi

The genealogy of the Chin, according to the linguists, stems from Sino- Tibetan which is one out of three language groups, i.e., Altaic, Indo-European, and Austro-Asiatic. Sino-Tibetan gave birth to Tibeto- Burman which in turn gave birth to Tibetan, Yi( Lolo ), Pui( Minchia), TuChia, Hani( Woni), Lisu, Lahu, Nasi(Moso), Chingpo(Kachin), Chiang( Chin), Nu, and Tulung ( see Encyclopedia Britanica). Early writers, both British and Americans, mentioned the name of the Chins as Khang, Khiang or whatsoever. The words Chin, Chiang or Khiang were romanization of the original Chinese word ” Yin.”

The Chins are found in India, Bangladesh, and in Burma. There are Chins who live in plain areas and those who live on mountains have a word “zo” to describe places which are high and cold. Some Chins are propagating “zo-mi” as their original name. In fact, the genetic word “Chin” comes from the Chinese word “Yin” which means man. In the Pinyin romanization, “Yin” becomes ” Chin.” Thus, we have China as the country of the Yin people. culturally and traditionally, the Chins have many kinds of similarities with the Chinese. Sine 1889, the year in which the British empire annexed the Chin Hill, there were British political officers and American missionaries who have closely worked for the Chins. Some of these officers have remarks on the culture, way of life, attitude, habits, body structure, etc., of the Chins.

The ”Chin today are widespread in several other countries mainly because of their ill – feeling against the prevailing military rulers. It is necessary to introduce the Chins to other people for the purpose of mutual understanding and interpersonal relationship. To serve this purpose, this article depicts the remarks made by the British political officers and the American missionaries. The first person who made a remark on the Chins was Rev. Arthur Carson who lived and worked for the Asho- Chin in Thayer Myo. In his letter dated January 19, 1888 to the headquarters office of the Baptists in the United States of America, he wrote: There are so many dialects that we can never hope to know and use them all. Our hopes for the future are high. We find them naturally a superior people to the Burmans. They are not quarrelsome, may easily be taught to be independent and manly, and has a sense of gratitude for favors received. They have good mind and hearts capable of great love. Yet, they are just as capable as enmities as of friendships. The greatest evil we will have to meet among them is temperance.

A British medical officer Major Newland who himself married a Chin woman in Hakha town wrote a book called A Practical Handbook of Lai Dialect ( 1895). In his book he wrote: A Chin id manly and independent fellow. He has not the cringing, fawning habits of his neighbours the Burmans . He always considers himself the equal of anyone. This independent spirit is the only favorable quality of a Chin. He would be a fine fellow but for his drinking habits. Carey and Tuck, who expedited the Chin Hills, wrote volumes of book which they entitle The Chin Hills ( 1896). In their entitled one can find the following verses:

The slow speech, the serious manner, the respect of birth and the knowledge of pedigrees, the duty of revenge, the taste for and the treacherous method of hospitality, the clannish feeling, the vice of avarice, the filthy state of the body, mutual distrust, impatience under control, the want of power of combination and the continued effort, arrogance in victory, speedy discouragement and panic in defeat . . . The Chin Hills are peopled by many clans and communities, calling themselves to be distinct and superior origin . . . Owning firstly to the want of a written language and secondly to the intermiable inter-village warfare, has split up and resulted in Babel of tongues, a variety of customs, and a diversity of modes of living . . . Except in the prosecution of warfare, robbery is practically unknown. A.S. Reid in his book Chin -Lushai land observed the culture of the Chins as:

Owning no central authority, possessing no written language, obeying but the verbal mandates of the chiefs, Hospitable and affectionate in their homes unsparing of age and sex while on war path; Untutored as the remotest races in central Africa, and yet endowed with an intelligence. Rev. Dr East, a medical missionary to the Chin in the 1890s, called the Chins as ” splendid people.” His remarks is bases on what he found the existence of God in the hearts, words, and attitudes of the Chins. His diary was compiled in a book form and called it Burma Manuscripts (1910). He wrote: I was led to believe that these people had no knowledge God, no word of love, no word of home. However, I could not accept that ideas as I very thoroughly believe in racial unity and that God made all man out of one blood. It is a certainty that the Chins believe in the God of Heaven as Creator. This knowledge is universal among them.

Rev. Dr Strait, an American Baptist missionary to the Chins stationing in Hakha, did not accept the idea that the Chins are so civilized. Rather. he praised the social system of the Chins as well as the skills of women who could weave a high quality silk showls, garments etc., still keeps the Chins silk showls as a valuable thing of the family. Rev Dr J.H Cope, who served the Lord for the Chins associating with the British administrators during 1908 till 1938, mentioned that the Chins have been living in a higher civilization in the past. He indicated that the living situation on the hills makes constant deterioration of the prevailing culture. He wrote a book called Awakening of the Northern Chins. In his book he wrote:

There are evidences that these people once had a higher civilization. This is seen from the fact that they are completely clothed and do not appear ever to have been headhunters or cannibals. There is even a tradition of a written language. They differ from many hill tribes in that violent crime is rare polygamy not very common, women more respected, and warfare carried on less brutally than in many hill districts . . . After reaching the hills they quickly spread out in little villages in the narrow valley and many dialects soon developed.

Rev. Sowards, Secretary of American ( Burma) Baptist Missionary Society during 1950s prophesized that the Chins will make great contributions to the whole of Burma. He played a leading role in the forming of Zomi( Chin) Baptist Convention and a theological in 1953. School and Hospitals opened for the Chins by British governors and American missionaries opened the eyes of the Chins in many ways. The British administrators recruited the Chins for their army because they knew that they were faithful and dutiful. Today, the Chins are working hard for their seif identity, self- determination, self- dependency, and self-reliance. The only thing that they need to gain the above is freedom which can bring chance for them

Kanbawza Win

“Hope for the Best but Prepare for the Worst” is the unforgotten speech given by our beloved leader Bogyoke Aung San when he came to London to negotiate for independence of the Union of Burma. The speech implies that if we cannot achieve it by peaceful negotiations we will have to fight for it. Today this would also apply to all the ethnic forces in Burma who are at odds with the Burmese military Junta. Currently the secret negotiations between the pro democracy movement led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the military Junta has left out the ethnic forces. If the Myanmar race, both democratic and undemocratic forces construe the Non-Myanmar as an excess baggage that must be accepted as a necessary evil then the Burmese problem of will never be solved. Their actions seem to indicate a Burmese saying “Ka Lae Dwe Tait Tait Ne, Lu Gyi Dwe Sa Gar Pyaw Nae Dae” meaning, ‘Hey you little fellows keep quiet while we adult are seriously talking’. The nature of the so called ‘Secret Negotiations’ is a clear indication that there is something to hide from the public. If that is the case, then the ethnic groups will have to conclude that as the 1947 Constitution was torn up by the Burmese Junta in 1962 and obliterated up the Panglong Agreement then the ethnic groups have no obligation whatsoever to the Union. Hence fighting the Myanmar Tatmadaw (army) is amounted to legitimate war against an occupying force (for the past decade they have behave in such a manner) and cannot be construed as a civil war.

The very fact that the negotiations are bilateral and not tri-larteral underline the fact that the Myanmar tribe, which is a much stronger, more numerous and resourceful and dominating tribe, wants to rough ride shod over the ethnic groups. The writing on the wall exhibit clearly that major decisions will be made between a Myanmar and a Myanmar, and later these discussion will be expended to the ethnic forces for them to decide either to take it or leave it. This “carrot and stick tactic” denotes that a Myanmar does not treat a non-Myanmar as an equal but of a lower level people who are at their beck and call. Of course the democratic Myanmar will be magnanimous and on paper at least, will treat the ethnic races as equal. In other words, the ethnic groups will be at the whims and the fancy of the Myanmar leaders.

This has been the case since the inception of the Union of Burma when the Karens has no choice but were forced to fight. Then the Mon, Kachin, Shan, Karenni, Arakanese and Chin followed, not to mention the much smaller tribes as the Pa O, Palaung, Tavoynians Rohingys, etc . Today there is no single tribe or ethnic group that has not taken up arm or is still fighting against the Myanmar tribe. Burmese chauvinism and xenophobia run deep into their veins. Until and unless there is cetena, (goodwill) love and sincerity by the Myanmar towards the non Myanmar as showed by our beloved leader Bogyoke Aung San, we cannot visualize a final solution. The Panglong Agreement and the 1947 constitution drawn up under the supervision of Bogyoke Aung San has been trampled upon by the Burmese Tatmadaw belonging to the Myanmar tribe.

A barometer reading of the Junta’s current attitude towards the ethnic forces can be clearly seen in the military offensive against the Karens and the Shans. Their superb diplomacy of “divide and rule ” which translates into “let the ethnic forces fight the ethnic forces” e.g. Wa fighting the Shan, Karen Buddhist fighting the Karen Christians and so on, harkened back even to the Burmese democratic days when the Kachin and the Chins were recruited to fight the Karen. In fact it was the Chin forces that defended Rangoon from the Karen who were in the suburbs of Rangoon now called Insein. How many of the Chins and Kachins have laid down their lives in defense of the Union of Burma only to be changed to the chauvinism name of Myanmar. Currently how are the Chin and Kachin being treated? Do the Myanmar respect their culture and religious beliefs? How many times have the Myanmar negotiated with these ethnic groups and how many times have they betrayed or swindled them?

Of course there are several Myanmar who have not approved the proceedings of those in power. They have identified with the ethnic forces and fought shoulder to shoulder with their ethnic brethren, especially the students and the young generation who were forced to flee for their lives in 1988.. The ethnic groups welcomed them with open arms seeing theses young Myanmar like them being persecuted. This also proved that the ethnic groups are not at all racist but simply fighting the Junta and chauvinism. These Myanmar understand more about their ethnic brethren than those who are in Rangoon who are at the helm of the administration. Why are these Myanmar left out of the negotiations?

The treatment by the Myanmar of the non-Myanmar for half a century or so since the inception of modern Burma has guaranteed that no ethnic leader will trust the Myanmar. This is now being reinforced by the current “Secret Negotiations” which deliberately leave out the ethnic groups. Autonomous regions, self determination, and federalism are the words anathema to the Myanmar under the pretext of dismemberment the Union. But the fact is that these attitude covers up the truth, liberty, equality and fraternity.

The ethnic groups together with the people of Burma and the world have been left in the dark. Why? Is the fate of the 47 million Burmese people to be decided only by two persons alone, Khin Nyunt and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi? We have heard about the nature of these negotiation via foreign media only. No announcement or communique has been released. Naturally speculations are rife. Will the blood thirsty Narco- Generals be given impunity in return for an interim civilian government?

Not that we don’t have faith in Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Nor do we want revenge over the evil generals but the very fact that important conditions are agreed upon behind our backs indicate that the situation is equivalent to the Burmese saying, “Say Yar Thwa; Khaing Da Loke; Pyan Ma Pyaw Ne” meaning ‘go where you are directed and implement as told and don’t talk back’. Why is the culture of silence imposed on us? Is it a Myanmar way or a Myanmar mentality? We are very much bewildered. If we don’t know the causes, nature and extent of the gross violations of human rights which the Generals are still committing how can the truth be known, not to mention achieving of national reconciliation. We should also remember that the granting of de facto acceptance of impunity for those holding political, military or economic power erodes the very basis of the social order and helps to nurture a culture of violence.

Drawing from the experience of South Africa, it has been found that there is an existential need of the victim to break out of a situation of silence, isolation, fear and falsehood. To know the truth, to recover a shared memory and thus to restore human dignity for the victims and accountability for the perpetrators are MUSTS. We would very much like to find out or how whether this compatible with so called ‘Secret Negotiations’?

Without an intentional attempt to create a space where the stories of humiliation and suffering can be told, where the truth can emerge and collective remembrance restored, the search for justice will continue to divide the community rather than re-establish relationships and contribute to a process of healing. How can forced labour, forced relocation, systematic torture, disappearances, extra-judicial killing, raping of women and children continue even as the ‘Secret Negotiations’ are going on. Why have the Myanmar so stubbornly refused to learn the lessons of the recent past and all this continue to occur? More often than not, we hear the response, “Forget the past, the dead cannot come to life and turn your eyes to the future building of a nation.” This simplistic answer, so easily offered by those who have something to hide, has no healing power. It leaves no room for reconciliation. Until and unless the truth is told, unless the criminals are held accountable, or unless those directly responsible and their accomplice confess their guilt, ask for forgiveness and give concrete signs of repentance, there can be no justice and therefore no healing of society. No body in Burma would want to repeat the errors of the past, trapped in cycles of retributive violence. The people yearn for transformation. And this transformation could start with the opening up of the so called ‘Secret Negotiations’. The people of Burma including the ethnic groups have suffered too much from the unkept promises could be spared from experiencing evil wars and bitterness.

by Canadian Friends of Burma

Although Burma is thousands of kilometres away, Canadians are very much connected to this Southeast Asian country of 50 million people. Ever since Burma’s military regime opened the country up to foreign trade and investment in 1989 for the first time in three decades, Canada’s corporate sector has been conducting business there. These commercial links have increased steadily over the past decade, rising sharply in the past few years to over $300 million of investment and $60 million worth of trade at the present time.

Burma’s Nobel Peace Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi has called on the international community not to do business in her country under the current military regime. Leader of the National League for Democracy, which won an overwhelming victory in the country’s 1990 national elections, Aung San Suu Kyi stresses that foreign business only props up the military dictatorship and does not help the majority of Burma’s citizens.

More recently, reports to the ILO say that it is impossible to carry out business in Burma without benefiting from or perpetuating the country’s distinct brand of slavery to which hundreds of thousands of citizens are subjected each year. In response to this problem, last November, the International Labour Organization (ILO) called on its members, which include Canada, to review their connections with Burma to make sure they are not helping to foster the system of forced labour there.

Most of the heroin that comes into Canada originates in Burma according to the RCMP. Heroin has had devastating effects on people=s lives in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. The military dictatorship does not just turn a blind eye to the heroin traffic, it supports by letting convicted drug lords roam free and by allowing heroin profits to be laundered through state-owned banks controlled by the military regime. Moreover, the report Out of Control 2, produced by the Southeast Asian Information Network identifies heroin refineries that are located next to army bases and others, which are partially-owned by senior Burmese military generals.

Canadian Policy:

Although concerned with the deteriorating human rights situation in Burma, the Government of Canada continues to allow Canadian business in Burma. In August 1997, Canada removed Burma’s preferential tariff eligibility and restricted Canadian exports to Burma, to encourage the military regime to enter into meaningful dialogue with the leaders of the democracy movement.

Despite these measures, imports to Canada from Burma have more than tripled in the past four years. Last year’s import value of $60.794 million was more than double the value of the previous year (Industry Canada).

The Canadian government imposes absolutely no restriction on investment, which has shot up to over $300 million to date mostly in Burma’s mining and gas sectors. CFOB’s most recent research indicates that, since 1997, at least 11 new Canadian companies have invested in or expanded already-existing investment in Burma[1]. The Government of Canada maintainsthat with regard to investment, their hands are tied because of the Special Economic Mea! sures Act (SEMA). The recent ILO resolution, however, now fully justifies triggering the SEMA to ban investment.[2]

Canadian Corporations in Burma:

The largest foreign mining venture in Burma, Ivanhoe Mines, is registered in Canada’s Yukon to take advantage of generous tax incentives provided by the Territorial government. Invanhoe is involved in a copper mine, which is a 50/50 joint venture with Burma’s military controlled Mining Enterprise No.1″.

In research conducted by CFOB, testimony was received from Burmese villagers[3] stating that eight villages were forcibly relocated in June 2000 to make way for the Monywa copper mine’s expansion. Ivanhoe has already invested $150 million in the project and is looking for a further $400 million for its expansion. In addition, nearly one million workers toiled on the building of a railway line from Monywa to the district centre of Pakokku, while another 5,000 villagers had to contribute their labour to the irrigation development around the Thazi dam near Monywa. The proximity of these infrastructur! e projects to the mine would make it extremely difficult for Ivanhoe to avoid benefitting from forced labour.

Another significant Canadian commercial venture in Burma is the $24 million contract that Canadian Helicopters International signed in 1997 for five years involving two aircraft operating from Rangoon and a third remotely operated. Previously, CHC provided helicopter services for a French oil company named Total, for its work on the Yadana pipeline which was constructed with the help of forced labour.[4]

Currently, one of Total Oil’s foreign partners in the project, the American oil giant, Unocal, is being sued by 14 villagers who had been living in the vicinity of the pipeline and suffered terrible abuses by the military regime in connection with the project’s construction and security. In September 2001, a US Federal Court judge stated that evidence suggested Unocal knew about and benefitted from forced labour on the pipeline.

Forced Labour in Burma: A Modern Form of Slavery

One of the most pervasive human rights violations in Burma is the military regime’s system of forced labour. Called a modern form of slavery, by the United Nations, International Labour Organization (ILO), forced labour is used on a multitude of construction projects in numerous industries, from repairing tourist sites to carrying artillery for the army during military offensives.

The ILO took the strongest action it has ever taken towards a member country, against Burma, due to the country’s forced labour situation. In November 2000, the ILO called on its members, which include Canada, to review their connections with Burma to ensure that they are not helping to perpetuate the system of forced labour there. Reports to the ILO state that it is impossible to carry out business in Burma without benefitting from or perpetuating the country’s distinct brand of slavery to which hundreds of thousands of its citizens are subjected each year.

Generally any person in Burma can be forced into hard labour at any time by military authorities, men, women, children, the elderly, the sick and pregnant women. Forced labour is often accompanied by beatings, rape, deprivation of food, rest, and medical care.

ILO Report on Forced Labour:

After 30 years of criticism by the ILO of forced labour in Burma, in 1997, a commission of inquiry was set up to discover the facts. In July 1998, they released their findings in a 392 page document distilled from nearly 10,000 pages of testimonies and eye witness reports.

A year after the report was published, the military had still not taken any measures to fulfil the report’s recommendations to address the widespread use of forced labour. Therefore, in an unprecedented move, the ILO banned Burma from future meetings and from any future support until the regime takes significant steps towards positive change.

Report Excerpts:

There is abundant evidence before the Commission showing the pervasive use of forced labour imposed on the civilian population of Myanmar by the authorities and the military for portering, construction, maintenance and servicing of military camps, other work in support of the military, work on agriculture, logging and other production projects undertaken by the authorities or the military, sometimes for the profit of private individuals, the construction and maintenance of roads, railways, and bridges, and other infrastructure work..

… it appears that unfettered powers of military and government officers to exact forced labour from the civilian population are taken for granted…the manifold exactions of forced labour often give rise to the extortion of money…also to threats to life and security, extrajudicial punishment, physical abuse, beatings, torture, rape and murder.

Forced labour in Myanmar is almost never remunerated or compensated, secret directives notwithstanding, but on the contrary often goes hand in hand with the exaction of money, food and other supplies from the civilian population.

All the information and evidence before the Commission shows utter disregard for the safety and health as well as the basic needs of the people performing forced or compulsory labour…

A state which supports, instigates, accepts or tolerates forced labour on its territory commits a wrongful act…Whatever may be the position in national law…any person who violates the prohibition of recourse to forced labour under the Convention is guilty of an international crime, that is also, if committed in a widespread or systematic manner, a crime against humanity.

The Commission considers…the establishment of a government freely chosen by the people and the submission of all public authorities to the rule of law are, in practice indispensable prerequisites for the suppression of forced labour in Myanmar.

This report reveals a saga of untold misery and suffering, oppression and exploitation of large sections of the population. The government, the military and the administration seem oblivious to the human rights of the people, their actions gravely offend human dignity and have a debasing effect on the civil society, where human rightsare denied or violated in any part of the world it is bound to have a chain effect on other parts of the world and it is therefore of vital interest to the international community.

Burma’s Illicit Drug Economy

Since the ascendance of the current military regime in 1988, Burma has become one of the world’s largest suppliers of heroin. The current military regime profits from, protects and supports Burma’s illicit drug industry.

The regime allows notorious Burmese drug lords, such as Khun Sa and Lo Hsing Han, to operate as legitimate businessmen in Burma. The South East Asian Information Network (SAIN) in a 1998 report, listed five army regiments with headquarters or outposts alongside heroin refineries. It reports that bulk heroin exports from the refinery at Paletwa in north-west Burma were carried by army helicopter into Bangladesh, there being no roads for transportation. Dr. Desmond Ball, an Australian researcher, identified in 1999 three infantry battalions that, between them were maintaining six heroin refineries along the drug routes in north-eastern Burma. He also identifies senior generals that were part owners of heroin refineries at the time of his research.

Money Laundering:

Desperate for foreign currency, the Burmese military regime has created legislation that helps launder the proceeds of drugs. In levying a 40 per cent tax rate on declared assets, the regime makes no inquiry into the source of the assets. Moreover, Burma’s military junta openly allows profits from the drug trade to be channeled through military-controlled companies such as banks and the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprises. As a result of this money laundering, illicit drug profits permeate Burma’s economy.

In such an environment, foreign companies have no way to ensure their operations in Burma are clean. A prime example of this problem was the case of Wal-Mart Canada, which was found in 2000 to be importing from a clothing company in Burma owned by the notorious drug lord Lo Hsing Han.

Burma Heroin in Canada:

Canadians are not immune from the scourge of Burma’s heroin trade. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police RCMP states that most of the heroin coming into Canada originates in Burma. Meanwhile, heroin has had devastating effects on people’s lives in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Therefore, Canadian companies which support Burma’s military regime through their business there, are inevitably and ironically contributing to social problems in Canada.

In 1997, Burma was responsible for about 60 per cent of the word’s supply of heroin. Production of raw opium exceeded 2500 tonnes, or more than double the yield in 1988 when the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), the forerunner of the SPDC took power. Opium poppy cultivation in Burma has also increased from some 92,300 hectares to more than 200,000 under the SPDC (Dr. Desmond Ball,”Burma and Drugs: The Regime’s Complicity in the global drug trade! ” in Asia-Pacific Magazine, No.14, 1999).

The regime has created legislation which helps launder the proceeds of drugs. The Burmese regime levies a 40 % tax rate on declared assets other than real property, but as long a! s the tax is paid, there is no inquiry into the source of the assets (US State Department, 1998). Also banks launder dubious money in exchange for a 25 % to 40% fee. In 1996, there was US $250 million of unexplained investment attracted by the scheme (The IMF and the UN Conference on Trade and Development in the Sunday Times [London] May 10, 1998).

Money laundering and the return of narcotic profits laundered elsewhere are very significant factors in the overall Burmeseeconomy and are officially sanctioned by the junta. The SPDC openly allows profits from the drug trade to be channeled into private and public enterprises through Burma’s national company, the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprises (MOGE) and the banks. (Leslie Kean and Dennis Bernstein, People of the Opiate in the Nation, Dec. 16, 1996).

A study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cites large expenditures unaccounted for by the junta: Despite the fact that Burma’s foreign exchange reserves from 1991-1993 were only approximately $300 million, the SLORC purchased arms worth $1.2 billion during the period (The Nation, Dec. 1996).!

A Unless there is a democratically elected civilian government that can win the support of all the Burmese people, including the ethnic minorities, progress on the drug front will be impossible. (Michael Jendrzejeczyk, Director of Human Rights Watch/Asia, the New York Times, Feb.12, 1993).

A major dimension of the corruption [of the military dictatorship in Burma] is the involvement of the regime – from the most senior members of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) which rules the country, down to infantry soldiers stationed in border areas – in drug trafficking. (Dr. Desmond Ball, Burma and Drugs: The Regime’s Complicity in the global drug trade in Asia-Pacific Magazine, No.14, 1999).

# The opium-heroin trade in Burma is a sophisticated, world-wide multi-billion dollar business which requires a large infrastructure, especially for refining, transporting and protecting the product, from Burma’s borders to its neighbouring countries. (Dr. Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe, The War on Drugs and Drug Policies; paper distributed at the International Conference on Drugs, 1996).

# US anti-drug assistance to the Burmese government has failed in the past, and in the last four years Burmese authorities have made no discernible effort to improve their performance…SLORC has been part of the problem, not the solution. (Robert S. Gelbard, former US assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law-enforcement affairs, Far Eastern Economic Review, Nov.21, 1996).

The United States: We are increasingly concerned that Burma’s drug traffickers, with official encouragement, are laundering their profits through Burmese banks and companies–some of which are joint ventures with foreign businesses.It is hard to imagine a lasting solution to this region’s narcotics problem without a lasting solution to Burma’s political crisis. (Madeleine Albright, US Secretary of State, Jul.1997).

Britain: Burma is the largest single world producer of opium, and it has achieved that infamous position precisely because it has a government that does not act against the drug barons. It is not only a deeply repressive regime, but is also a deeply irresponsible regime in that it is one of the few governments in the world whose members are prepared to profit out of the drugs trade rather than to seek to suppress it (Robin Cook, British Foreign Secretary, South-China Morning Post, Sept.2,1998).

Thailand: Thai anti-narcotics officials have been quoted as saying that the Burmese military are actively supporting the United Wa State Army believed to be one of the main drug trafficking organizations in the Golden Triangle (The BBC, Jul 25,1999)

Burma’s Military-Controlled Economy

International investment may help open societies and bring democratic change in some countries. In Burma, however, foreign investment helps perpetuate the cruelty of a repressive unelected junta. While the majority of Burmese receive no benefit from foreign enterprise, foreign exchange allows the military to maintain its rule by force of arms.

The military regime’s own figures state that expenditure on defence since 1988 to the present had increased from 22.35 per cent to49.93 per cent. During the same period, spending on health-care and education had dropped from 4.71 per cent and 12.9 per cent to 2.53 and 6.98, respectively.

Full foreign ownership of companies operating in Burma is generally forbidden and almost all large investment in Burma is carried out through joint ventures with the military regime, notably the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings (UMEH). The UMEH is owned in part (40%) by the Defense Ministry’s Directorate of Procurement, whose main function is to import armaments. The other 60% of UMEH shares is reserved for active and retired military officers, army-owned business enterprises and friendship societies, including veteran groups.

Since the ascendance of the current military regime in 1988, Burma has become one of the world’s largest suppliers of heroin. This very fact is just one of the many examples that point to the regime’s profiting, protection and support of Burma’s illicit drug industry.

The regime allows notorious Burmese drug lords, such as Khun Sa and Lo Hsing Han, to operate as legitimate businessmen in Burma. The South East Asian Information Network (SAIN) in a 1998 report, listed five army regiments with headquarters or outposts alongside heroin refineries. It reports that bulk heroin exports from the refinery at Paletwa in north-west Burma were carried by army helicopter into Bangladesh, there being no roads for transportation. Dr. Desmond Ball, an Australian researcher, identified in 1999 three infantry battalions that, between them were maintaining six heroin refineries along the drug routes in north-eastern Burma. He also identifies senior generals that were part owners of heroin refineries at the time of his research.

Nobel Peace Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi and her democratically elected National League for Democracy have been calling for sanctions against their own country since it became obvious that foreign investment was only benefiting the military authorities and their allies. In a video smuggled out of Burma in August 1999, Aung San Suu Kyi stated that:

“We do not think that investment in our country at this time can do our country any good…Investment made at the right time in the right way could be of enormous benefit not only to the people of Burma but to thos who are investing in Burma. But that time has not yet come.”

Just as the South African anti-apartheid movement called for economic sanctions against their own country, Burma’s democracy movement is calling for an end to foreign financial support to the brutal military dictatorship.

The Situation of Women in Burma

Like all their fellow citizens, Burma’s women face the day-to-day struggle of life under military rule in Burma. But the country’s women also face particular problems and abuse on account of their gender. Apart from the general maltreatment and discrimination directed against women in their society, Burmese women and girls, especially in ethnic minority areas, are faced with the constant danger of being raped or trafficked into the sex industry.

Sexual Assault:

Women are subjected to rape and other sexual assaults in a variety of contexts; in their villages and fields; during flight; while they are serving as forced labourers or forced porters for the army; and under assorted pretexts in which soldiers abuse their authority and claim to be checking women’s documents. Women are raped by Burmese soldiers in their own homes, while they are internally displaced, and while they are on their way to seek refuge in neighbouring countries. These abuses have escalated over the past decade under because soldiers have become used to taking what they want under the current military regime which allows them to do so with impunity. (See School of Rape by Earthrights In! ternational, Convention for the Elimination of Violence Against Women Shadow Report)

Trafficking into Sex Industry:

The burgeoning sex industry in Burma and trafficking of Burmese women to Thailand and other countries also gives rise to enormous health difficulties, most notably HIV and AIDS. As well, Burmese sex workers (often coerced into the industry) in Burma, in Thailand, India and Bangladesh suffer from high rates of sexually transmitted disease and are often victims of beatings and other physical assaults.

An estimated 80,000 women from Burma are engaged in prostitution in Thailand. Along the Thai-Burma border, agents recruit women with false promises of providing them with employment or legal resident status in Thailand or force them into prostitution under threats to their lives. Many brothels are surrounded by electric fences and armed guards to avoid escape. They rarely have access to heath care or HIV education. Their rate of HIV infection is much higher than among Thai prostitutes.

Women’s Health:

Maternal motility rate in 1993 was 140 per 100,000 live births. In 1987, abortions accounted for 52 per cent of all registered maternal deaths. Though the practice is illegal in Burma, induced abortion is resorted to in the absence of knowledge and other means for family planning. Other causes of high material mortality are malaria, malnutrition,goiter, severe anemia, sexually transmitted diseases and the limited coverage of trained birth attendants in remote areas.

According to UNICEF, the national infant mortality rate in 1996 was 105 per live births, which can be compared to 33 in Vietnam, 31 in Thailand and 11 in Malaysia. One million children are reportedly malnourished. 9 to 12 percent of them severely so. The high rate of babies with birth weight below 2,300 grams is probably reflection of the high malnutrition levels among pregnant women. Under the current regime which took power in 1988, these figures have likely increased since health care has deteriorated significantly. Moreover, this data is not completely accurate because it does! not include information from Burma’s ethnic civil war areas, where health conditions are even worse, because UN agencies and international non-governmental organizations have limited access.

[1]Ivanhoe Mines, Aeroground Group Services, Cavern International Industries, East Asia Gold Corporation, First Dynasty Mines, International Bio-Recovery, Leeward Capital Corp, Marshall Macklin Monaghan, Northrock Resources, Prime Resources Management, Suzuki Canada

[2]This is because the ILO resolution responds to the Act=s allowance that a resolution from an international body, such as the United Nations, empowers such an action. AThe Governor in Council may, for the purpose of implementing a decision, resolution or recommendation of an international organization of states or association of states, o! f which Canada is a member, that calls on its members to take economic measures against a foreign state.

[3]Individual identities are not disclosed to protect their security

[4]ATotal Denial Continues@ by Earthrights International, 2000

The international community was still far from developing a common approach to continued human rights abuses in Burma. In March, fourteen governments were represented at a meeting in South Korea convened by the United Nations to discuss how to advance Burma’s political development. They included the U.S., Australia, Canada, and several E.U. and Southeast Asian states, as well as the U.N. secretariat and the World Bank, but no new and coherent strategy emerged.

United Nations

In April, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Malaysian diplomat Razali Ismail as his new special envoy for Myanmar, replacing Alvaro de Soto. Razali made his first visit to Rangoon from June 30 to July 3 when he met with SPDC officials, NLD leaders, and foreign diplomats. During his second visit on October 9-12, he met with Aung San Suu Kyi and Senior Gen. Than Shwe, the first time any special envoy had been able to do so.

The U.N. General Assembly and U.N. Commission on Human Rights passed consensus resolutions in November 1999 and April 2000, respectively, expressing concern over human rights abuses in Burma and the ongoing political stalemate. In reports in January and August, U.N. Special Rapporteur Rajsoomer Lallah focused on the lack of respect for civil and political rights, obstacles in Burma to the realization of economic, social, and cultural rights, and abuses faced by vulnerable groups. The SPDC refused to admit Lallah to Burma for the fifth year in a row.

United States

The U.S. government position on Burma did not change. On May 19, President Clinton renewed sanctions on new private investment in Burma. On June 19, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected a Massachusetts state law, which would have penalized companies investing in Burma, ruling that Congress had preempted it by establishing a sanctions policy. In another case brought by fifteen Burmese villagers, a U.S. federal court ruled on September 1 that Unocal corporation and its partners knew of and benefited from forced labor on the Yadana natural gas pipeline between Burma and Thailand, but that there was insufficient evidence that Unocal could control the abuses, and that the court therefore lacked jurisdiction over the case. The plaintiffs planned to appeal to the federal appeals court in San Francisco.

Two U.S. government reports sharply criticized the SPDC. In February, a Labor Department report concluded that forced labor, denial of the right to organize, and forced relocation remained pervasive, while abusive child labor was not uncommon. In September, the State Department announced that Burma was one of a number of countries that maintained serious restrictions on religious freedom.

On August 31, both Vice-President Al Gore and Secretary of State Madeline Albright publicly condemned the SPDC for its treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi and other NLD members and called for the SPDC to guarantee their freedom of movement and other fundamental human rights. In his September 6 address to the U.N. Millennium Summit, President Clinton denounced the SPDC for confining Aung San Suu Kyi to her home. On September 11, the State Department released a joint statement signed by Albright and ten other women foreign ministers condemning the SPDC’s violation of the basic human rights of NLD members.

European Union

The European Union (E.U.) tightened sanctions against Burma’s leaders while renewing engagement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Burma is a member. On April 10, the E.U. strengthened its common position by prohibiting the sale, supply, and export to Burma of equipment which could be used for internal repression or terrorism, and by freezing the funds of important government functionaries and publishing their names. On September 21, the E.U. issued a statement of concern about the treatment of Aung San Suu Kyi and called for the SPDC to lift all restrictions on her freedom of movement. The E.U. went ahead, however, with plans for the first meeting of E.U. and ASEAN foreign ministers since Burma joined ASEAN in 1997, scheduled at this writing to be held in December in Vientiane, Laos. Switzerland and Liechtenstein in October placed sanctions on Burma in line with the E.! U. common position. On October 6, the E.U. presidency issued a declaration in support of the U.N. special envoy’s mission.


Japan continued its two-track policy towards Burma, urging democratization and respect for human rights and suspending any new aid until there were “visible signs” of progress, while also maintaining political ties with Rangoon. On November 28, 1999, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi met with Senior Gen. Than Shwe at the Manila summit of leaders from ASEAN, China, South Korea, and Japan. His meeting was followed a few days later by a “personal” visit to Burma by former Japanese premier Ryutaro Hashimoto. Both leaders told the SPDC that Japan would not resume official development assistance absent visible political and economic reform. Hashimoto also recommended that the SPDC re-open all Burmese universities. In late June, Japan sponsored a two-day workshop on economic reform in Rangoon, originally scheduled when Obuchi and Senior Gen. Than Shwe met in Manila in November 1999. No new Official Development As! sistance (ODA) loans or grants were announced during the workshop, though it was widely viewed as a possible step towards resuming bilateral aid. Some Japanese companies-including a fertilizer manufacturer and Toyota car dealer-pulled out of Burma during the year due to the difficulties they encountered operating there. In September, the Japanese government protested the virtual house arrest of the NLD executive committee.

In multilateral forums, Japan sought to dilute or deflect actions critical of the SPDC. It voted against the resolution on forced labor at the ILO and did not cosponsor the Burma resolution adopted by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.


Australia sought to cultivate greater respect for human rights through a long-term strategy of engagement with Burmese authorities on human rights. Urging the creation of a Burmese national human rights commission, the Australian government financed two human rights workshops in July for mid-level Burmese civil servants and a third in October. On August 10, at meetings of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, the SPDC reiterated its intent to establish a commission. Not everyone within the Australian government had confidence in the SPDC’s rhetorical commitment to change, however. In a July 21 cable to Prime Minister John Howard and Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer, Ambassador Trevor Wilson wrote that the SPDC was “determined to remain in power at all cost, allowing only marginal reforms in the economy and society.” The Australian government criticized Rangoon over th! e treatment of the NLD but did not reassess its existing policy.

Association of South East Asian Nations

Thailand broke with the ASEAN position of non-interference in the internal affairs of member nations by abstaining from the vote on the ILO resolution criticizing Burma (all other ASEAN members voted against), and, in August, by criticizing the SPDC’s treatment of Suu Kyi and the NLD. Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan said Burma’s actions could scuttle the planned December meeting of ASEAN and E.U. foreign ministers. In September, the Thai government called for the ASEAN troika-the association’s present and immediate past and future chairpersons-to address the situation in Burma. Vietnam, the current chair, refused to activate the troika, claiming the issue was a Burmese internal affair.

World Bank

The World Bank in a report in late 1999 linked Burma’s poor economic performance to poor governance. The bank continued to deny loans to Burma and refused to consider sending a high level delegation to Rangoon unless the SPDC affirmed in writing its commitment to carrying out significant economic reforms.

Courier News Service: July 20, 2001

THE HAGUE – Chin people throughout the world have warmly welcomed their admission to membership in the Unrepresented Nations’ and People’s Organization.

The decision to admit the Chins, as well as the Khmer-Krom people of Cambodia, was announced by the steering committee of the UNPO on July 15.The Chin application, under consideration for more than five years, wasmade by the Chin National Front, a political group based on the Chin-Mizoram border.

The UNPO, headquartered in the Netherlands, now has 52 members representing over a 100 million people worldwide. In the Asia-Pacific region alone, itclaims 17 member nations including the Chins, the Karennis, the Mons, the Nagas and the Shan state peoples who live within the borders of the Union of Burma.

It is estimated that there are more than a million and a half Chins living in western Burma and scattered in exile in other parts of the world. The Chin National Front, headed by Thomas Thangno will be represented in meetings of the UNPO by (entrusted representative), Zo Tum Hmung, who said he looked forward to working closely with the international body.

The Chin people have long jealously guarded their claim to autonomy and self-rule in the area of Burma in which they live. But in 1948 their leaders joined with those of the Kachin, Shan, Karenni and the peoples of central Burma in signing the Panglong Agreement that cleared the way for the formation of the Union of Burma and independence from British rule.

Successive military regimes in Burma have since stamped out any overt sign of Chin political nationalism, locked up hundreds in prison and driven thousands more to seek exile or to join in armed revolt against Rangoon domination.

Pu Lian Uk, exiled Member of Parliament for Haka constituency, welcomed the news of UNPO membership, saying that it reached beyond the CNF to all of the Chin people. He warned that any attempt to annihilate the distinctiveness of the Chins and other minority peoples of Burma would be met with continuing resistance. Any future constitution of the Union of Burma could only succeed if it was based on genuine federalism and adherence to the articles of the Panglong Accord, he said.

The stated political objectives of the Chin National Front include the attainment of self-determination and democracy within a genuine federal republic of the Union of Burma.

Sai Wansai of the steering committee of the UNPO told the Burma Courier that the organization does not involve itself in the goal setting of national member organizations. He said the UNPO has members with political programs ranging from cultural autonomy to outright independence.

By: Lian Uk

Congratulations to the Chin people every where the world over for the admission of the Chin National Front (CNF) to the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO)!. The admission is not only to the Chin National Front as an organization, but it is the admission of the Chinland and its people which is for all the Chin people as a whole, the synonymous names of which in some of their native dialects are also Laimi, Zomi etc. Our exceeding thanks for this is also to the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization General Assembly and their Steering Committee.

The territory known today as Chin State was an independent territory outside the Burmese kingdom till the British annexed it in the 1890s. It was directly ruled by the British governor from Rangoon through the chieftains of the territory outside the provincial government of British Burma even after its annexation until Burma independence in 1948.

When the British government was to give independence to the Burmese kingdom, the Chin territory annexed to the British empire had also a full right to become an independent sovereign state as it was not annexed as a part of the Burmese kingdom and as the Chin people are a distinct people much different from the Burmese or Burman in language, custom, culture and in their way of life.

The Chin Chieftains who ruled the Chin territory under the British Governor signed the historic Panglong Agreement with other nationalities on February 12, 1947 to achieve speedy freedom from any colonialism including British colonialism. February 12, the day on which the Panglong Agreement was signed, has been since then, observed as the Union day every year up to this day in the whole Union of Burma.

February 20th, the day which marked the change of despotic and aristocratic ruling system to elected system in democratic process in the Chin State since 1948, has also been recognized by the successive governments of the Union of Burma as ‘the Chin National Day’ recognizing their distinct national identity as a people .

But the Constitution of the Union of Burma 1947 after the assassination of the founding fathers of the Union made the Burmese people of the previous Burmese kingdom replacing the British colonialism. Thus the rest of the Panglong Agreement signatory nationalities have been made colony territories of the Burmans betraying the vision of the founding fathers of the Union led by General Aung San whom with his cabinet ministers were assassinated on July 19, 1947 before completing the Union constitution.

So the constitutional government of the Union in the Union Parliament had agreed to amend the 1947 Union Constitution in federal form in early 1962 according to the vision of the founding fathers of the Union. But a group of the armed forces led by General Ne Win overthrew the constitutional government and abolished parliamentary system with the Constitution of Union of Burma 1947 in the night of March 2, 1962. Ever since General Ne Win ruled the country as a despot dictator directly or indirectly leading to all these violation of human rights causing to all sort of sufferings and misery to the population of the whole country.

The Chin people every where in the Chin State joined the pro-democracy uprising against the military regime in 1988 to end the military dictatorship and to restore democracy and justice in the whole country. The military regime therefore occupied the Chin State with military force against the will of the people in the Chin State.

It was because of the American Baptist missions since 1899 that the Chin State today with its overwhelming Christian population in it becomes the only Christian State in the 14 provinces of the Union. The Chin people therefore in their Christian organizations and institutions are practicing democracy system as their way of life. The Burmese military regime therefore accusing the Chin people being a Christian State to be pro western or pro American has made the Chin State as a military occupied territory making the situation in the Chin state to be an uninhabitable place for the Chin people by giving them all sort of troubles by killing people for no good reasons at random extra judicially, raping, looting, robing and ransacking their properties and homes; by conscripting all men and women to forced labor with out giving them enough food a! nd drinks giving no time to work for them. Conscript Chin women to force labor are raped by the armed forces of the ruling military regime. They were arrested and tortured for no good reasons at random in many ways and treat them like animals.

These are all the persecution launched by the Burmese military regime to drive all the Chin people from their homeland to wipe them out to their extinction as a people. So those who could find ways fled the country in tens of thousands by all means to neighboring countries and there are now thousands of Chin refugees in the neighboring countries and around the world in Europe and in North America.

They are all stateless people and their life in neighboring countries is very miserable with no safety to be arrested by the authority concerned at random to be sent back to Burma in the hands of the Burmese military regime where they are tortured and imprisoned even to their death.

Since this persecution launched on the Chin people combine the general persecution of racial, religious and political, the individual Chin people are all the persecuted people not because any faults of their own. But they are persecuted just because they are Chin ethnic people and are Christians and believe and practice democracy in their religious organizations and institutions.

The instability of the Burmese leadership mentality in this way can not assure the other fellow union constituent ethnic nationalities for the security of each existence as a people that the Burmese or Burman are overwhelmingly majority constituent nationalities of the union to the rest of the union nationalities which make them aggressive on the nationalities of lesser number in population.

The insistence of the military regime State Peace and Development Council ( SPDC) up to now to have power in the Union legislature and civil administration and the constitution to be in unitary form is a sign which is greatly dangerous for the union constituent minority nationalities to continue on to be in the same sovereign independent state with them( the Burmese) in any form.

It has been a long history now that the Burmese like this SPDC cannot trust the minority nationalities. The reason could be no other than cowardliness. As a matter of fact, several nationalities can truly be more developed than the Burmese if they are free to develop their respective own territories.

So if this Burmese majority people are ever trying to annihilate the lesser number nationalities in population to their extinction as distinct peoples like what is going on under this military dictatorship, it will be a great loss to the minorities people themselves and to the world as their distinct nationalities in their languages, culture and literature and the great contribution they could made to the world will be totally wiped out with them.

It will only be safe for all the minority union nationalities to re join the Union with the Burmese or Burman nationality only if the ethnic Burmese majority, as a guarantee to equality to all, are willing retaining secession clause for them and for other union constituencies according to the 1947 Union constitution in the future constitution of the Union of Burma to be in true federal form.

Then only will the nationalities whose populations are lesser in number than the Burmese or Burman will be safe to reform the Union with the Burmese or Burman in federal or confederate form of the union.

But the Burmese people like the SPDC who now believe getting the upper hand to the minorities will be far from this concession. It is now also the best chance for the minorities as they are now free to establish their own sovereign independent state in their respective definite territories to be internationally recognized as there is nothing that bind them together with the Burman in the absence of the Panglong Agreement itself and the Constitution of Union of Burma 1947 which reflected the chore of the Panglong Agreement.

So it is the last resort for all the nationalities other than the Burmese at present to seek the most possible shelter to the fellow Un represented Nations and Peoples in the UNPO to which the Chin State and its people has been admitted.

Thus the admission is being most welcome and the Chin people deserves being congratulated for it.

Ethnic Groups In Burma

A peaceful and democratic Burma requires a flexible accommodation among the country’s diverse ethnic groups. Without lasting resolution to questions of local autonomy and national power-sharing, rebellions that have flared and simmered in Burma’s borderlands for over five decades cannot be resolved. And without peace, there is little chance for grassroots economic development that could help reduce the currently massive illicit dug production and trafficking in many impoverished ethnic minority areas.

The lack of a reliable census makes it impossible to more than roughly estimate the composition of Burma’s ethnic mosaic or it total population. Some experts suggest existing population data is skewed, exaggerating the number of Burman, who are the largest single ethnic group. According to available statistics, they comprise about two-thirds of Burma’s approximately 50 million people and dominate the army and government. Most of Burma’s ethnic minorities inhabit areas along the country’s mountainous frontiers. Karen and Shan groups comprise about 10% each of the total population, while Akha, Chin, Chinese, Danu, Indian, Kachin, Karenni, Kayan, Kokang, Lahu, Mon, Naga, Palaung, Pao, Rakhine, Rohingya, Tavoyan, and Wa peoples each constitute 5% or less of the population.

Burma has experienced a long history of migration and conflict among various ethnic groups along fluid frontiers, which were finally fixed only during British imperial rule from the 1820s to 1948. Under British control, diverse peoples far from Rangoon were brought under at least nominal central administration. Yet many areas remained effectively self-ruled, with only a thin veneer of imperial oversight. During World War II, while many Burman joined Japan’s fight against British forces, many minority ethnic groups remained loyal to Britain. This reflected a genuine desire for independence on the part of both groups: Burmans struggling to be free of the British colonial yoke, and ethnic minorities wishing to escape Burman domination.

The Union of Burma became independent in 1948 only after extensive negotiations led by General Aung San, who convinced most ethnic minority groups to join the new union. The Panglong Agreement of 1947 outlined minority rights and specifically gave the Shan and Karenni peoples the option to secede from the union a decade after independence. Yet these constitutional guarantees were never fully respected. Almost immediately upon independence, Burma was wracked by a series of brutal ethnic wars that continue in varying intensity to this day.

The principal demands of Burma’s ethnic minorities are to gain genuine autonomy for their home areas and to achieve a significant voice in the affairs of the country as a whole. Few demand total independence as their ultimate goal. Since its 1988 coup, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (or SLORC, renamed the State Peace and Development Council in November 1997), has negotiated cease-fires with most armed ethnic opposition groups and waged fierce assaults against others. Muslim Rohingya people in southwestern Burma were targeted in 1991, and over 250,000 fled to neighboring Bangladesh. A new wave of attacks was reported in late 2000.

At least 140,000 more Karen, Karenni, and Mon people from eastern Burma are refugees in Thailand following intense Burmese army offensives since 1984. Many Shan people have been forced to flee army assaults as well. In several areas, there are massive numbers of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), mostly villagers who have fled their homes to escape conscription as military porters or other abuses. The suffering of Burma’s estimated 600,000 IDPs is often far worse than refugees in neighboring countries, who receive at least some outside aid.

In many areas, uneasy truces prevail. Among the earlier cease-fires concluded were with ethnic Wa and Kokang armies, which until 1987 served under the Burmese Communist Party. The Burmese army’s agreements with these groups permit opium cultivation and the right to trade without interference. The result has been a sharp increase in heroin production and smuggling from Burma and a concurrent worldwide rise in heroin use and addiction. These groups are now also engaged in large-scale illicit manufacture of methamphetamines. Some other ethnic opposition organizations, particularly the Kachin Independence Organization and the Karen National Union, have taken strong stands against drug production and trafficking. The present junta has exploited divisions within and among ethnic groups to bolster its rule. In 2000, the relocation of thousands of Wa farmers into traditional Shan areas has raised tensions an! d sparked fighting between those groups. The United Nationalities League for Democracy, an umbrella group for non-Burman political parties formed after the 1988 democracy movement, was revived in January 2001 by exiled politicians. A draft constitution was ratified and executive members were elected. These parties won a combined 65 seats in the 1990 elections and have a strong claim to political legitimacy. The National Democratic Front (NDF), another coalition of ethnic groups, is also striving to promote common positions among ethnic minorities. Prospects for a democratic, prosperous, and peaceful Burma are dim without a just and amicable settlement of the country’s ethnic conflicts. The junta’s proposed new constitution does little to acknowledge ethnic groups’ grievances. Burma’s democratic opposition has urged serious efforts to address these issues, as ethnic reconciliation and cooperation will be a major challenge for any future Burmese government. !

To protect and promote human rights and democratic principles