Rhododendron News




Human Rights:


* Burma’s Junta Arrested Two Prominent Chin Christian Ministers


* Forced Labor Continues In Remote Areas of Chin State


* Force Labor Used to Repair Army Camp


* Professor Gets 7 Years for Protest




* Chin refugees being evicted en mass in Northeastern India


* Translations of Orders & Local News Regarding Chin Refugees in Mizoram State of India


Letters & Press Release:


* Urgent Action Appeal By CHRO


* Chin Youth Organization Letter to Young Mizo Association


Chin Forum Letter to Young Mizo Association


Facts & Arguments:


* Myanmar: The Politics of Humanitarian Aid By International Crisis Groups


* Critique Of The International Crisis Group’s Report By Dr. Chao-Tzang Yawnghwe







Burma’s Junta Arrested Two Prominent Chin Christian Ministers


CHRO April 10, 2001


In a renewed effort to curb Christian activity, Burmese military junta arrested two highly respected Christian ministers on Friday April 5, 2002, a very reliable source in Rangoon told Chin Human Rights Organization yesterday.


Rev. Htat Gyi/That Ci and his son-in-law Pastor Lian Za Dal alias Saya Tun Lin were arrested on Friday night in a midnight raid conducted by local officials in their residence at 49th Dagon North in the outskirts of Rangoon city. Local officials also took eight other extended family members into custody, the source said.


Rev. That Ci was arrested shortly after he returned home from the Block Peace and Development Council office to file guest registration for his daughter and son-in-law who were visiting him in his Dagon North residence. According to the source, the local authority turned down the Reverend’s petition for guest registration saying the Township authority would first review his request after which they would inform him of the result. “He returned home believing that he would be informed of whether he was allowed to have visitors over or not”, said the source.


But at around midnight, the local authority raided the residence of Rev. That Ci and arrested all family members in the house on account of failing to file guest registration.


The source noted that although the cause of the arrest is being given as “failure to file guest report”, in the interrogation center Rev. That Ci was asked if he would stop holding worship service.


A member of ethnic Chin, Rev. That Ci had worked as a middle school headmaster and had also worked extensively with the United Nations Development Program UNDP before joining Myanmar Evangelical Gospel School of Theology where he later earned a Masters in Divinity.


That Ci has been reputed for his evangelical works among Burman Buddhists in Dagon North area and as a result the Township and District authorities had warned him several times to stop proselytizing. “Having drawn many Buddists into his church, the authorities had also warned him not to construct a church building in the local area. However, Rev. That Ci always defiantly ignored the warnings saying he did nothing detrimental to the stability of the state”, added the source.


Independent verification of the report by CHRO confirmed that Rev. That Ci and Pastor Lian Za Dal, who is also known among the Burmese as Saya Tun Lin were detained at Dagon North police station for one night, the next two night at a location on Barr street before they were sent to Insein Prison on Monday, April 8, 2002. The whereabouts of the other family member detainees could not be verified. However, the source further suggests that the two ministers could have been released during their initial detention on the condition that they stop preaching, but it was likely that they refused the offer in exchange for their release given the fact that they have now been sent to Insein Prision.


Ethnic and religious minorities have been the targets of persecution in Burma under the military junta, State Peace and Development Council, largely dominated Burman Buddhists. Christians make up only a small percent among the predominantly Buddhist populations in Burma.


The United States State Department’s Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, two years in a row had designated Burma as Country of Particular Concern, violating religious freedom. The reports specifically cited persecutions suffered by ethnic Chin Christians in Chin State in the western borderland of Burma.


Forced Labor Continues In Remote Areas of Chin State


Beginning January 5, 2000, ten villages in remote areas of Chin State were forced to construct a 20-mile motor road lingking Vuangtu and Ngaphaipi villages, an eye witness told Chin Human Rights Organization.


Section 2 Commander of Burmese Army Light Infantry Battalion LIB 269 stationed at Vuangtu village issued an order requiring 10 villages located in the surrounding areas of Vuangtu to contribute unpaid labor for the road construction. Headmen of the ten villages were summoned to Vuangtu army base where they were told to carry out the order.


The villages include:


1.Lelai (Lailen)


2.La-ao (La-u)


3.Khipilu (Khuapi lu)


4.Mifawko tla (Farkungtlang)


5.Locitae (Lungcuaite)


6.Ngephetae (Ngaphaite)








10.Ngephepi (Ngaphaipi)


In addition, 235 people from Khuabung village were ordered to particpate in the forced labor. Not only were the villagers ordered to bring with them their own tools and ration during their work period but also were ordered to birng an additional one tin (About 8 Kgs) of rice and other needs for the army guards who supervised the forced labor.


The road construction is part of the Border Area Development Project and extensive forced labor have been used in the process. Although the army claimed that the project is for the development of the area, the roads have been used only to ease movements and communication of the Burmese troops around the area.


Force Labor Used to Repair Army Camp


According to a reliable source, the Burmese army forcibly took 35 persons from Tawngla Lung Cawi village, Thangtlang township to repair the army camp at Sabawngte village from January 3, 2002 to January 16, 2002.


2nd Lt. Mya Myit Soe ordered the forced labor recruits to bring their own ration and equipments for during their two-week stay in the camp. They were aslo ordered to bring one chicken for the army. Dried fish, meat, salt and other spices that the villagers brought with them were confiscated by the Lieutenant.


The laborers who became sick as a result of two weeks of hard work had to travel a 20-mile journey to Mizoram State of India to get medical treatment as the army did not provide them any medicines.


Tawngla Lungcawi is a small village of 40 households. Out of these, two persons in every household were forced to participate in the forced labor.


The Sabawngte army camp is repaired three times a year and all villages in the surrounding areas are forced to participate in repairing the camp on a rotating basis.


Professor Gets 7 Years for Protest


March 18, 2002— Dr Salai Tun Than, a retired professor who was arrested last November for staging a one-man protest against Burma’s ruling junta, has been sentenced to seven years in prison, according to a reliable source in Rangoon.


Dr Salai Tun Than, 74, was sentenced under Article 5(J) of the 1950 State Emergency Act for his solo protest in front of Rangoon’s City Hall on Nov 29. According to the source, a special court in the compound of Insein Prison, where he is currently being held, passed the sentence on Feb 8.


During his protest, Dr Salai Tun Than, the former rector of Yazin University in Pyinmana, Upper Burma, distributed copies of a letter he wrote to demand political reforms. In the letter, he also expressed a willingness to pay a high price for his protest. “It is better to die than to live under the military regime,” he wrote.


The source added that the retired rector, who is an ethnic Chin, is now permitted to receive visits from relatives. In February, he also met with the United Nations’ Human Rights rapporteur for Burma, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro.


The source also noted that Dr Salai Tun Than suffers from a serious eye condition that needs to be operated on within the next six months.


Since talks between Burma’s ruling junta and the democratic opposition began a year and a half ago, 243 political prisoners have been released from the country’s gulag. Most of these prisoners had already served out their sentences and were due to be released, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).


Despite persistent calls from opposition groups and the international community for more releases, the regime continues to detain around 2,000 political prisoners, according to AP.


Source: Irrawady News <>







Chin refugees being evicted en mass in Northeastern India


CHRO: March 6, 2002


A reliable source told Chin Human Rights Organization ( CHRO ) today that thousands of Chin nationals from Burma who have been taking refuge in Lunglei District of Mizoram State of northeastern India are being forcibly evicted from their homes.


The eviction is the latest of a series of attempts by the powerful local youth body known as Young Mizo Association, YMA, to clear out all foreigners living in the District of Lunglei.


On March 3, 2002, members of the YMA entered into the homes of Chin refugees and threatened them to voluntarily evacuate their house or risk all their belongings being thrown out. So far 18 of the 29 families living in Chanmary ward have already been forcibly evicted this week. The rest are being told to leave their house within two days, failing which police will be called in to arrest them.


The first eviction started in mid August with 31 families in Ramthar ward being forced to move out of their house. Since then dozens of families from different localities have been evicted. 11 families in Salem ward were removed on September 15 and another 29 families in Farm ward were evicted on 25 October 2001.


A series or eviction notices and warnings were later issued and on March 2, the Church in which the refugees hold worship service was forced to shut down with the threat of dismantling it if they didn’t.


The total number of Chin refugees concentrating in Lunglei District alone, according to the local people, is more than 5000. However, the total population of Chin refugees in the entire Mizoram State is estimated to be over 500,00, although the accurate figure cannot be ascertained.


Chins fled their homeland to escape mass human rights violations and atrocities perpetrated by the Burmese military regime. Documented reports indicate persistent human rights violations including forced labor, rape, arbitrary arrests and executions and religious persecutions in Chin State.


Notice of Eviction from Chanmari Ward YMA




No. CHYMA-1/2001/113


Dated Lunglei,the 21st, Dec, 2001




The Believer Fellowship- 1& 2 Chanmari, Lunglei.


Subject: Notice of Eviction from Chanmari Ward




As you have agreed to our request during the meeting between you and YMA Office bearers from Chanmari ward on 30th September 2001, your fellowship is hereby notified to leave Chanmari ward within the month of January 2002. If you failed to comply with this notification, the YMA Chanmari branch will not bear any responsibilities for whatever happened to you thereafter.


Yours for the Community and the land






YMA Branch, Chanmari, Lunglei




No. CHYMA- 1/2001/107. Dt.29th Sept 2001.




The Secretary,


Believer Fellowship-I & II


Chanmari, Lunglei.


Subject: Notice of Summons


Regarding the above subject, pursuant to the meeting decision of YMA Executive Committee on 28 September night, leaders of the Believer Fellowship-I & II are hereby respectively invited to a meeting with Chanmari Community leaders to discuss matters regarding your fellowship at the following place and date.


Place ; Pu J. Zorema Residence, Chanmari- III, Lunglei.


Date: 30.9.2001 at 3:00 P.M








YMA Branch Chanmari, Lunglei


Copy:1. For copy of the Village Council President of Chanmari, Lunglei for further necessary actions











YMA Branch Chanmari




YMA Letter to Pi Lianbuangi




Pi Lianbuangi, Chanmari – 1


Beloved colleagues,


Greetings to you, first of all, on behalf of the YMA Chanmari branch.


YMA has adopted its slogan of the year “To preserve the people and the land”. In line with this slogan, the Chanmari branch of YMA is launching a campaign of evicting all foreigners residing in its jurisdiction. In this respect, both you and your tenants have been notified that they leave this locality no later than March 9, 2002 (Saturday). To ascertain that your tenants comply with this notice, the community leaders and Magistrate will be taking necessary measures. As the landlord, you are hereby fervently requested to be present at your house starting from 10:00 A.M.


Yours colleague,




Lunglei, 8th Mar, 2002




YMA Chanmari Bbranch




YMA Letter to Pu Buannawla




Pu Buannawla,




Dear Sir,


In conjunction with its slogan of the year, YMA Chanmari Branch, Lunglei, is massively mounting a campaign of evictions of all foreigners residing in its jurisdiction. As you have already been notified, this is to remind you again that you are to leave the locality no later than March 9, 2002.


Dated 8th March, 2002, Lunglei






YMA Chanmari Branch, Lunglei


Lunglei Daily Newspaper




Hard to Evict


Members of YMA Chanmari Branch are busy looking for foreigners living in Chanrmari ward as part of the organization’s campaign to evict all foreigners, particularly from Myanmar. While many of them are complying with the order by leaving their houses, there are many who are very stubborn to obey the order. Surprisingly, these people have valid residential documentations from V.C (Village Chairman) or from some Autonomous District Council proving their legal identity as Mizo. Some of them even have Residential Certificate from the Lunglei District Commissioner. Because there are some people who are willing to give them such documentation, the YMA is unable to do effectively enough to evict them. These people are believed to have invested some money to be able to acquire such documents. If these kinds of illegal activities continue, it will become more and more difficult to ta! ke effective actions in the future. It is quite clear that the people who are issuing these documents to foreigners do not give serious thought to the problem. It is necessary that these people stop their activities for the sake of preservation of our people and land. If we continue to engage in these kinds of activities we will face some serious problems in the near future.




To Be Evicted


Chanmari Branch YMA is taking aggressive action to evict all foreigners living in Chanmari ward, especially from Myanmar, who entered into India illegally. While there are many who are obedient, many of them are very stubborn. Last warning has been given to those who have not moved out two days ago. Many are reported to be possessing illegally-obtained residential documents.




Urgent Action Appeal


Fear for Homelessness/Starvation and Deportation


Chin Refugees in Lunglei, Mizoram State, India Date: 14 March 2002


Chin Human Rights Organization, CHRO has received reports that hundreds of Chin refugees who have been taking refuge in Lunglei District of Mizoram State, India are being evicted from their shelters and houses.


Since August 2001, the powerful local pressure group Young Mizo Association, Lunglei Branch started carrying out eviction of dozens of Chin refugee families living in different localities of Lunglei town. The eviction has left many people homeless including most vulnerable persons such as women and children.


CHRO is concerned that these people who have already suffered persecutions in Burma are being subjected again to deprivation of their basic livelihood, and fundamental human rights. There are also serious concerns that these refugees will eventually be deported to Burma, where they will risk serious human rights violations.


According to reports, members of Young Mizo Association, Chanmari Branch and local police stormed the houses of Chin refugees in Chanmari and other localities in Lunglei and forcibly evicted them from their rented houses. On March 3, 2002, members of the YMA entered into the homes of Chin refugees and threatened them to voluntarily evacuate their house or risk all their belongings being thrown out. So far 18 of the 29 families living in Chanmary ward have already been forcibly evicted in the past week alone.


A widow and mother of 5 children living in Chanmari, was among dozens of families forcibly evicted in the past week. Reports also indicated that the worship places of Chin refugees, the Believers’ Fellowship I & II located in Chanmari Ward in Lunglei were ordered to shut down by the local YMA.


CHRO calls upon all concerned Chin organizations, churches and individuals around the world to act on this alarming situation of your Chin refugees in Lunglei.


Background Information


Serious human rights violations in Burma have forced thousands of Chin nationals to flee to various countries including India. A great majority of those fleeing to India are taking shelter in various parts of Mizoram State including Lunglei. About 50,00 Chins are believed to be living in Lunglei District out of an estimated total population of 500,00 in the entire Mizoram State. Because the Indian Government does not permit United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to function in the region, Chin refugees in Mizoram State has no legal protection either from the Indian Government or from UNHCR.


The State Government of Mizoram, although it has been generous to Chin refugees, has frequently carried out massive sweep of arrest and deportation of Chin refugees to Burma.


Recommended Actions:


Please send appeals to arrive as soon as possible:


Expressing concerns for the safety and livelihood of evicted Chin refugees in Lunglei area Requesting YMA, Lunglei Branch to stop evicting Chin refugees in Lunglei on a humanitarian and compassionate ground Pleading local Mizo churches to intervene in the situation (Remember to be respectful in your tone and also do not forget to mention in your appeals appreciations and gratitude to the people of Mizoram for having been so generous and sympathetic to the Chin refugees)


Appeals to:


1.Young Mizo Association (YMA) Lunglei Branch


2. Secretary Mr. Zo Muan Kima.


email address, [email protected] e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .


3. YMA sub headquater Lunglei


email- [email protected] e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


Phone- 011-91-372-24799


4. YMA, Center YMA office


M.G Road, Ai zawl, 796001


Phone: 011-91-389- 324 966, 011-91-389-326 973


Email- [email protected] e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Fax- 326 993


5. General Secretary, Center YMA


YMA Road, Aizawl 796001


Ph- 011-91-389-322 869, 011-91-389-326 973


Copies to:


1. Pu Zoramthanga Mizoram Chief Minister, fax no: 91 389 322 245


2. Pu Tawnluaia Hon’ble Home Minister Government of Mizoram, fax: 91 11 301 2331


Chin Forum Letter to Young Mizo Association




Mr. Zomuankima


Secretary of Young Mizo Association (Lunglei Branch) Mizoram


March 19, 2002


Subject: Forced eviction of Chin refugees


Dear Sir,


We have learned from the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) that on March 6, 2002 thousands of Chin nationals from Burma who have been taking refuge in Lunglei District of Mizoram State of North Eastern India are being forcibly evicted from their homes. We are shocked to learn that the eviction is part of the YMA’s programme “to clear out all foreigners living in the District of Lunglei” and moreover it is to our surprise that the actions are carried out under YMA’s adopted slogan “To preserve the people and the land”.


We have no doubt that the YMA is very much aware of the sufferings of the Chins and Burmese in Burma under the brutal military dictatorship ever since 1962. Since the 1988 democracy uprisings inside Burma and following the military crack down on pro democracy activists many Chins have fled to all parts of the world including USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Singapore etc. Not all of them have landed on friendly nations and many suffer still equally brutal treatments in their adopted countries. Some have to stay illegally under fear of detention and deportation or any known kind of human rights violations that they have experienced inside their own homeland while a few of them receive a welcoming hands from these strange lands.


For us, the Chins, the country known as Mizoram is not a strange land since Mizos and Chins are one and the same people only divided by the Indo-Burma border line without our consents. It is due to our unfortunate history that we, the Chins and Mizos are divided under different countries known as India and Burma. The Chins fled their homeland to escape mass human rights violations and atrocities perpetrated by the Burmese military regime. Documented reports indicate persistent human rights violations including forced labor, rape, arbitrary arrests and executions and religious persecutions in Chin State.


In fact the Chins should not feel as foreigners in Mizoram and vice verse. If the YMA leadership is committed to “preserve the people and the land” how could it ignores the plights of their suffering brothers and destroy their livelihood in Mizoram, which is part of the ancestral lands of the Chins as well?


We the CHIN FORUM, herewith, seriously urge your kind attention as to review the policy of your esteemed organisation and earnestly request the leadership of the YMA to stop the evictions of the Chin refugees from Mizoram at least until we gain freedom and restore democracy in Chin State and Burma.




sd/ Victor Biak Lian


Secretary Chin Forum 813-453


Cooper Street Ottawa, ON K2P 0H1,


Canada Tel: (613) 231 4208


Fax: (613) 234 2485


Email: [email protected] e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


Copies to:


YMA sub headquarters, Lunglei email- [email protected] e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


Center YMA office, Email- [email protected] e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


Pu Zoramthanga, Mizoram Chief Minister, fax no: 91 389 322 245 4.


Pu Tawnluaia, Hon’ble Home Minister, Government of Mizoram, fax: 91 11 301 2331




Chin Youth Organization Letter to Young Mizo Association




President Young Mizo Association,


Lunglei Branch Lunglei,


Mizoram, India


Date: March 13, 2002


Re: Appeal for ending mass eviction of Chin nationals in Lunglei


Dear Mr. President,


I am writing to you as Chairman of Chin Youth Organization to convey my deep concern over the continuing mass eviction of Chin nationals from Burma (Myanmar) living in Lunglei by members of your organization.


Reports indicate that since October last year, in conjunction with your organization’s slogan of the year “To preserve the land and the people” the YMA started issuing eviction notices to all Chin nationals living in your jurisdiction and as a result h! undreds of families have been forcibly removed from the houses and left homeless. In many instances in Chanmary Veng (Ward) and elsewhere, helpless widows and children have had their belongings thrown out of their houses by members of your organization. This has tremendously affected the lives of hundreds of families of already helpless and vulnerable men, women and children.


As you are aware, years of persecutions and oppressions they suffered from the Burmese military regime have compelled them, as their last resort, to take shelter in Lunglei District and elsewhere in Mizoram. Because they were already victims of politic! al, racial and religious persecutions in their homeland, the current campaign of eviction your organization is mounting against these people is only adding to the untold suffering they had already experienced in Burma under the military regime.


We sincerely do recognize and share the concerns of your organization in implementing your slogan of preserving the land and the people of Mizoram in India. We understand that the YMA has a strong perception against the presence of the Chin people in L! unglei District, as running counter to its very slogan. However, we believe that the cultural and political survival of the people and the land of Mizoram could never be threatened or even compromised by the presence of Chin refugees in the state. This is due to the simple fact that if we look further beyond so-called international boundary that divid es us as Inida and Burma (Myanmar) today, we are the same people who share the common identity, culture and language. It is only unfortunate that we have been divided by these artificial boundaries we now see in the map as international boundary.


Furthermore, the Chin people who are now taking shelter in Mizoram today are only there for the sole purpose of escaping mass atrocities and sustained oppressions from the Burmese military junta in their homeland of Chin State. In deed, we have been ve! ry lucky to have Mizo people as our next-door neighbor for without your kind welcome and assistance in time of hardship the situations our people have to face would have been unimaginable. This is also true in vice versa when the Mizo people had to go through the similar hardships decades ago.


For decades the Mizo people have been characterized by their Tlawmgneihna or “goodwill volunteerism” and are known for their tradition of “providing good treatment to their guests”. We are in reality temporary guests who are in dire need of protections! and helps of the Mizo people. At a time like this, it is fitting for the YMA as the most inclusive and representative of the Mizo people to show the kind of people that you are known for rather than engaging in acts, which would undermine and compromise such characteristics.


Reports tell us that, forcible mass eviction is still being carried out in various parts of Lunglei and that hundreds of families have been left homeless, including widows other vulnerable persons.


As we are greatly concerned about this continuing trend, we appeal to the YMA, Lunglei branch, in the strongest terms possible


· To seriously review its current policy on Chin refugees and put an immediate stop to the mass evictions on a humanitarian basis;


· To call off all orders of evictions being carried out in various parts of Lunglei


· To take appropriate measures to restore the livelihood of evicted persons in Lunglei District.


Yours sincerely,


Salai Ngun Cung Lian


Chairman, CYO USA




1. President, YMA (Central) for your information and necessary action.


2. Chief Minister, Government of Mizoram, for your kind information and necessary action.


3. Home Minister, Government of Mizoram for your kind information and necessary action.


4. Legal Officer, UNHCR, New Delhi for your kind information and necessary action.




Myanmar: The Politics of Humanitarian Aid




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 c



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