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                             TO THE
                          9 APRIL 1997
Mr. Chairman,
     In June 1996, I was appointed by your predecessor,
Ambassador Saboia, as the Special Rapporteur on the situation
of human rights in Myanmar. This position was created in 1992
by this Commission in accordance with resolution 1992/58. The
mandate required me to establish direct contact with the
Government and people of Myanmar, with a view to submitting
reports to the General Assembly and the Commission. That
mandate  has since been periodically renewed. Mr. Yozo Yokota
preceded me in this task. I wish to pay tribute to the
competence with which he discharged his mandate. I derived
much assistance from his work. 
Mr. Chairman, 
     On assuming my mandate, I tried to identify the priority
concerns of the international community with regard to the
situation of human rights in Myanmar. These concerns are
referred to in the resolutions which the various competent
organs of the United Nations have adopted over the past six
years but more particularly in the General Assembly resolution
51/117 and Commission resolution 1996/80, which were the most
recently adopted. These concerns may be summarized as follows:
     a.   the electoral process initiated in Myanmar by the
general elections of 27 May 1990 has yet to reach its
conclusion and the Government still has not implemented its
commitments to take All necessary steps towards the
establishment of a democratic order in the light of those
     b.   many political leaders, in particular elected
representatives, remain deprived of their liberty; 
     c.   violations of human rights remain extremely serious,
including, in particular, the practice of torture, summary and
arbitrary executions, forced labor, including forced portering
for the military, abuse of women, politically motivated
arrests and detention, forced displacement, serious
restrictions on the freedoms of expression and association,
and the imposition of oppressive measures directed, in
particular, at ethnic and religious minority groups; 
     d.   the continuing fighting with ethnic and other
political groups, despite the conclusion of cease-fire
agreements, together with the continuing violations of human
rights has resulted in flows of refugees to neighboring
Mr. Chairman,
     In October 1996, I submitted an interim report to the
General-Assembly commenting upon the institutional framework
of Myanmar and its adverse impact on rights to personal
security and due process of law, the freedoms of opinion,
expression and movement and the requirement that the will of
the people be the basis of authority in the State. Two months
ago, I submitted my report to your Commission. I have included
more specific information relating mainly to the situation in
the border areas between Myanmar and Thailand. This most
recent information has come to me directly through my visit to
Thailand. There I received testimonies from among the
thousands of newly displaced persons who fled Myanmar in the
summer of 1996. The testimony corroborated earlier reports I
had received. While both reports are at the disposal of All
delegations, I wish to draw attention to certain specific
Mr. Chairman,
     Since my appointment in June 1996 and, despite the
requests expressed in the resolutions of the General Assembly
and this Commission that I have direct access to the
Government and people of Myanmar, I have yet to be allowed by
the Government of Myanmar to see the situation on the ground.
Following my appointment, I have written on 3 separate
occasions to the Government of Myanmar seeking their
cooperation and requesting their authorization to visit the
country in the discharge of my mandate so as to reflect the
situation in Myanmar as comprehensively as possible.  My
efforts have so far failed. There has been no response to my
letters. However, in his statement to the Third Committee of
the GA in November 1996, the Permanent Representative of
Myanmar did indicate that a visit would be possible at an
appropriate and mutually convenient time. Although I have
remained ready to undertake such a visit, I have so far had no
favorable communication from the Government.
Mr. Chairman,
     I feel bound to record my regret that the Government of
Myanmar would appear to adopt an attitude of non-cooperation.
Clearly, the refusal of the Government of Myanmar to allow me
as Special Rapporteur to visit the country considerably
complicates the task I have set myself as Rapporteur to
ascertain and report on the human rights situation in Myanmar. 
The absence of a response to my letters is, in the
circumstances, regrettable because it has not rendered
possible the engagement of a constructive dialogue in the
light of the analysis which I have made of the present
situation, the current laws and practices, and the
developments described in my reports and which manifestly have
an unfavorable impact on human rights in Myanmar. I greatly
hope, however, that the Government of Myanmar will cooperate
and engage in such a dialogue in response to the concerns of
the international community, as expressed in the resolutions
so far adopted by the General-Assembly and the Commission on
Human Rights.   
Mr. Chairman,
     Although I have not been able to visit Myanmar itself, I
have gathered  much information which I considered reliable
from a number of sources: these sources have included
governmental, inter-governmental and non-governmental sources,
including individuals who either have recently left Myanmar or
else had relevant information about the situation in Myanmar.
Further, in my continuing effort to obtain the most accurate
and up-to-date information on the situation in Myanmar, I
visited Thailand in December 1996 to assess the situation of
the recently displaced who had fled from Myanmar to the
refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border. I wish in this
regard to thank warmly the Government of Thailand for
authorizing me to visit the border areas. 
Mr. Chairman, 
     I wish to draw special attention to the fate of persons
belonging to the ethnic minorities living in the border areas.
Displacement has become a way of life for many of them. For
the past 30 years, Karen, Mon, Karenni and Shan have had to
flee their homes and lands in order to avoid conscription into
compulsory labor for the military, in particular portering or
for development projects. I must also mention frequent violent
attacks against persons and property, which have often
resulted to forced displacement. As a result, family units and
communities are invariably destroyed and the displaced lose
their natural and cultural environment if not their lives. In
addition to All these developments, which cause serious
consequences and social problems for the population living in
that area, military operations have recently been undertaken
by the military in the Karen State and artillery bombardments
are reported to have caused damage not only to property but
also to human suffering and loss of life. Reports from
refugees who have been coming out of the border area describe
in horrifying detail the situation in the Karen State and it
is feared that there is little hope for improvement of the
situation in the near future.  
Mr. Chairman, 
     I now come to the politico-legal system in Myanmar. The
present legal and institutional framework through which
legislative, executive and judicial powers continue to be
exercised in Myanmar is not in conformity with established
international norms governing human rights. These norms
require that the authority of government should be based on
the will of the people and that this will shall be expressed
in genuine elections in which everyone is entitled to
participate either directly or through freely chosen
representatives. More than 6 years have now passed since the
will of the people in Myanmar was freely expressed in general
elections in 1990.  That will continues to be frustrated.  The
National Convention established by the Authorities since 1993
to devise principles to govern a new constitution has been
afflicted by criticisms of unrepresentativeness and of
procedures obstructing meaningful debate.  There is no
indication as to when its proceedings will end.
Mr. Chairman, 
     In the meantime the suppression of the exercise of civil
and political rights is reported to attain new heights.  A
panoply of laws continues to be used to criminalise and punish
the very exercise of civil and political rights.  There are
still frequent allegations of the arbitrary killings of
civilians and insurgents by members of the armed forces.  Acts
of torture or other cruel or inhuman treatment are frequently
reported to continue to occur, especially in the case of the
large-scale displacement of persons belonging to ethnic
minorities.  Due process of law continues to be flouted.  In
particular, the National Democratic League (NLD) and its
leadership are reported to be the constant subject of
harassment and oppression to the extent that the NLD found it
necessary to write to the authorities to highlight specific
instances of arrests, harassment and other unjustified action
by officials.  On the other hand, peaceful protests by
students are reported to have been met by the closure of the
universities, thus putting in jeopardy the education of a
generation of the youth of the community.  
Mr. Chairman, 
     In conclusion, I have to say with profound regret, at
this time, that there has been no change in the situation of
human rights in Myanmar in the past year and that there is
still no concrete sign of improvement. It is clearly not
sufficient to point out and dwell upon systematic violations
of human rights.  Constructive measures are called for.  It
seems to me that the absence of respect for the rights
pertaining to democratic governance as expressed in the
elections of 1990 by the people is at the root of All the
major violations of human rights in Myanmar.  Clearly the
establishment of a democratic order in itself would create the
most secure basis to remedy the situation and further to
create the proper infrastructure for the protection and
enjoyment of human rights.  To this end a new process would be
required to be engaged by the authorities of Myanmar.
Recommendations in this regard are contained in paragraph 64,
in Chapter III  F and Chapter IV B of the Report.
     Thank you, Mr. Chairman.