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United Nations Commission on Human Rights
Agenda Item (10)
Oral Intervention of David Taw*
April 10, 1997
Mr. Chairman.
A humanitarian and human rights crisis now exists along the
Thai/Burmese border.  In an attempt to solidify its hold over
the civilian population and territory, the ruling Burmese
military regime, SLORC the State Law and Order Restoration
Council, launched a major offensive against the KNU Karen
National Union and the civilian populations in the region in
February 1997.  SLORC is also continuing its massive forced
relocation campaigns in Karenni and Shan areas.  In All these
areas (see attached map), systematic human rights abuses
prevail, including summary executions, torture, rape,
arbitrary detention, forced porterage and forced labor, and
the burning and looting of villages.  
Because of the SLORC campaigns and the resulting human rights
abuses, hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to
live in relocation sites, are internally displaced or, if they
are fortunate, have been able to flee and seek refuge in
Thailand. Exact numbers are difficult to nail down, but
estimates can be made.  There are now 120,000 people living in
refugee camps just inside the Thai border; 20,000 people have
arrived in the past two months because of the current
offensive against the KNU.  In addition, approximately 40,000
Shan people have reached Thailand fleeing the forced
relocations, but they have not been permitted to establish
refugee camps.  Another 300,000 Burmese from various ethnic
groups have also come to Thailand and have been labeled
"illegal economic migrants" though most have fled because of
the massive forced relocation and forced labor campaigns of
the Burmese army.  The total number of dislocated Burmese
inside Thailand is at least 450,000 people.  Added to those
who have been able to reach Thailand--who are the lucky
ones--are the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced
persons inside Burma near the border.  It is estimated that
for every person that has reached Thailand, there is at least
one still inside Burma who would flee if they were able. 
SLORC now controls almost the entire border with Thailand and
has blocked the evacuation routes of thousands who wish to
flee.  Thousands of villagers are still scattered in the
jungles along the border with inadequate food and water
supplies, poor shelter and no access to medicine.  Thousands
of others have given up trying to reach Thailand and have gone
to the ordered forced relocations sites which are just as bad.
In Shan state, the massive forced relocation campaign
continues which started last year and effected at least
120,000 people.  The Burmese army is relocating new villages
as well as doing "secondary sweeps" in the previous relocation
areas to mop up any remaining villagers who may be scattered
in the forests and trying to avoid the relocation sites. 
Areas outside relocation sites are now free-fires zones, and
some villagers are shot on sight; these are clear examples of
arbitrary and summary executions of innocent civilians.
In Karenni state, another forced relocation campaign, which
affected at least 180 villages and began last year continues
with similarly alarming human costs.  Many abandoned villages
have been burned --some completely--by the Burmese army, and
land mines have been laid in others to prevent villagers from
returning to their homes.  Thousands remain scattered in the
jungle, and unable to plant their crops, they face potential
famine.  Those who have gone to the relocation sites face
appalling conditions; little or no food is provided, and water
supplies are inadequate and normally dirty.  Disease is
rampant, and medicine is scarce or nonexistent.  The
relocation campaigns in both Shan and Karenni states are
blatant violations of numerous rights of the Universal
Declaration on Human Rights.
The violations of human rights resulting from the offensive
against the KNU and the Karen people are just as pervasive. 
Forced porterage, rape, torture, summary executions, arbitrary
detentions, and the burning and looting of villages have All
been documented.  With SLORC occupying these areas, forced
relocations and massive violations of human rights will
Adding insult to injury, SLORC and SLORC-supported forces now
terrorize the refugees just inside the Thai border --
threatening to burn down their homes and force them to return
to Burma.  In January, two refugee camps were burnt to the
ground, leaving more than 10,000 people homeless.  Other camps
have been attacked this year as well, leaving the refugees All
along the border frightened and vulnerable.
In light of this human rights crisis along the Thai/Burmese
border,  we recommend: 
1) to the Commission, that its resolution on the situation of
human rights in Burma emphasize the crisis along the Thai/
Burmese border because of the offensive against the Karen
people and the forced relocations in Karenni and Shan states
and other areas.
2) to the international community, to continue its
international humanitarian assistance to the border area to
help those in need of immediate food and supplies, including
medicine, and to work to improve the security of the refugees
by moving the camps further inside Thailand.  
3) to Thailand, to continue its long tradition of humanitarian
assistance and allowing those in danger to seek refuge in
their country and not to repatriate any refugees until a
genuine lasting political solution and peace is in place in
4) and finally to SLORC, that it stop its campaign of force
against the civilian population and the political opposition
groups in Burma and join a tripartite dialogue with the
democracy movement and ethnic nationalities to reach a
national reconciliation.  
Thank you.
* Readers may be interested to know that during the delivery
of this statement, His Excellency U Aye, Ambassador
Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of
Myanmar to the United Nations in Geneva, along with his
deputy, rather conspicuously walked out.