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       On the roster of the Economic and Social Council 
                     of the United Nations
              P O Box 1049, 10830 Penang, Malaysia
                    Tel/Fax: +60-4-641 5785
United Nations Commission on Human Rights
Agenda Item 10
Oral Intervention
by Ms Debbie Stothard,
Mr. Chairperson,
I speak on behalf of ALIRAN, a Malaysian NGO, one of the 227
organizations and individuals from member states of ASEAN
(Association of South-East Asian Nations), who have endorsed
the Alternative ASEAN Declaration on Burma, which is attached,
for your information.
We wish to lodge our gravest concern at the deteriorating 
human rights situation in Burma as documented by the Special
Rapporteur and many international organizations. 
We view the inference that the right to development somehow
justifies widespread human rights violations in Burma as
misleading and in direct contradiction to the Declaration on
the Right to Development as adopted by General Assembly
resolution 41/128 of 4 December 1986. Article 9, Paragraph 2:
"Nothing in the present Declaration shall be construed as
being contrary to the purposes and principles of the United
Nations, or as implying that any State, group or person has a
right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at
the violation of the rights set forth in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and in the International Covenant
on Human Rights".
Human rights is not an "optional extra"; indeed, respect for
human rights is a prerequisite to genuine development.
Slorc's (State Law and Order Restoration Council's)stated
priority to ensure food and shelter for Burma's citizens is
perplexing in light of the fact that Slorc recently willfully
deprived tens of thousands of people in Burma of these very
As I speak, hundreds of unarmed civilians are losing their
families, food, shelter and possessions to looting and
military attack by the Slorc.  Testimonies from recently-
arrived refugees at the Thai-Burmese border clearly show that
there has not been any abatement in the Slorc's horrific human
rights abuses including arbitrary killings, torture, rape and
We are deeply concerned that the so-called development taking
place in Burma has failed miserably to ensure, the objectives
outlined in the Declaration on the Right to Development:
"...equality of opportunity for All in their access to basic
resources, education, health services, food, housing,
employment and the fair distribution of income."  as stated in
Article 8, paragraph 1.In fact, the irresponsible and
destructive development currently taking place in Burma is  a
significant source of human rights violations.
About 2 million people have been used as forced labor for
infrastructure development projects.  The Special Rapporteur
also reports that forced labor continues to be used throughout
the country. Evidence indicates many people were repeatedly
used as forced labor.  This practice is clearly a
contravention of the Convention Against Forced Labor ILO No.
29 to which Burma is a party. Under this Convention, forced
labor means "All work or service which is exacted from any
person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said
person has not offered himself (or herself) voluntarily."
Article 2(1).
Faced with evidence that the army forcibly recruits labor, 
guards them at gunpoint and uses deadly force against those
who attempt to escape, we can only view with amazement Slorc's
assertion that such labor is "voluntary". Assertions that this
practice is "traditional" can only be seen as insulting to
both Burmese culture and our intelligence.
Villagers are terrified to refuse to work on Slorc projects
because of the severe brutality inflicted by troops against
anyone who does not comply.  Forced labor is a common
practice, even occurring on joint ventures with multinational
Documented abuses along the route of  a gas pipeline project
in southeastern Burma exemplify the tragedy of Slorc's version
of "development".  Since 1991, Slorc and its multinational
business partners have militarized the region with more than
5,000 troops to secure and guard the 39-mile pipeline route. 
The region's 35,000 people have suffered a plethora human
rights abuses, including forced labor to build Slorc military
camps and the infrastructure for the pipeline.
Forced labor is also routinely used to improve tourist
facilities, including cleaning pagodas and renovating the
national palace moat in Mandalay.  Large populations in
popular tourist cities have been forcibly evicted to clear the
way for tourist facilities and relocated to satellite towns
where malnutrition and appalling conditions prevail in these
new locations.  At least 500,000 people have had their
economic, social and cultural rights abused in this way.
We are concerned that the beneficiaries of such development
are the Slorc, their families and associates, as well as
foreign companies.  We condemn this greedy and deadly
exploitation.  We are particularly ashamed to note that
companies working in active complicity with the Slorc include
those from ASEAN member states.
Recognizing that the peaceful resolution of the crisis in
Burma can only be achieved by tripartite dialogue, we call
upon the Slorc to immediately commence dialogue with the
National League for Democracy, the one party which won 82% of
the seats in the 1990 election, and ethnic nationality groups.
We call upon the United Nations Human Rights Commission and
the United Nations General Assembly to continue ALL efforts to
encourage the Slorc to immediately cease its human rights
We respectfully urge the member states of the United Nations,
which include ASEAN member states, in their individual and
collective capacities to engage in formal and informal efforts
to facilitate the process of tripartite dialogue in Burma,
further we urge them to discourage their citizens from
engaging in business ventures which result in human rights
violations in Burma.
Thank you Mr. Chairperson.