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		  Statement by U Denzil Abel, member of the
	   Myanmar Observer Delegation
			    to the
	 53rd Session of the Commission on Human Rights
		      under Agenda Item 10

Geneva 9 April 1997 [delivered 10 April]

Mr Chairman,

     I thank you for giving me the floor and affording me the
opportunity to inform the Human Rights Commission on the situation
in my country, the Union of Myanmar.

Mr Chairman,

     In the course of discussion under Item 10 my delegation has
heard some passing remarks with reference to the situation in

     Judging by their remarks I must say that the speakers are
ill-informed and are not wholly aware of developments taking place
in Myanmar. They are unduly influenced by unfounded and
unsubstantiated allegations inspired by motives other than the
cause of human rights.

     My delegation knows All too well that the sources of these
allegations are none other than anti-government forces who are
determined to denigrate the outstanding achievements of my
Government. They are in fact misusing the noble concepts of human
rights as an instrument to pursue their own hidden political

     My delegation however has to emphasize that the outcome of
events in my country must necessarily be decided by its own
citizens and not by outsiders, interlopers and opportunists.

     My delegation has circulated two documents No.
E/CN.4/1997/123 and No. E/CN.4/1997/124. These documents aim to
dispel the one-sided blinkered vision actively promoted and
propagated by proponents of black propaganda. The documents also
serve as a primary source for delegations interested in gaining
insight into the complexity of my country and the ongoing progress
achieved in creating conditions for a better life for the people
of Myanmar.

Mr Chairman,

     The Myanmar Government accords top priority to
reconsolidation in my country. The colonial policy of divide and
rule, and the misguided armed struggle waged by some groups
against successive governments since 1948 have taken an enormous
toll on the development of my country. The reconsolidation of our
more than (135) National Races is the key to peace, development
and progress.

     The Myanmar Government extended the olive branch to the armed
groups and, accepting the sincerity of the Government All but one
of the armed groups have since returned to the legal fold [sic].
They are now gainfully occupied with rebuilding and developing
their remote border areas in cooperation with the Government. The
swords have been turned into ploughshares for the commonweal.

     The sole remnant is the Karen National Union (KNU). It has
engaged in a futile armed struggle against successive governments
for almost half a century. It has undergone many changes in both
its leadership and political persuasion.

     The current guise of the KNU is to masquerade as a democratic
force. Its guise is meant to gain sympathy and support from the
outside world. It does not enjoy the support of the 2.7 million
Kayins living peacefully together with other National Races of

     The KNU is a politically and militarily dissipated force.  It
has unilaterally broken off peace negotiations with the Government
after reneging on the very terms it had proposed.  While talking
with the Government it engaged with other anti-government forces
and foreign sponsors in plots to destabilize the peace and
stability achieved so far in the border areas and the nation at

	  The KNU resorts to terrorists [sic] attacks against
civilians, they use landmine carpeting which maim innocent people.
They have of recent even resorted to bomb attacks on places of
worship. The KNU cannot but be seen as a terrorist group.

     Five years have elapsed since the Government unilaterally
suspended military operations and offered peace to the KNU.  There
has been no progress.

     For the people in the Kayin State to live in peace and enjoy
development, the Myanmar Armed Forces are now compelled to conduct
mopping-up operations in the Kayin State against KNU bases, from
whence atrocities against the people are continually staged.

     Hundreds of officers and other ranks of the KNU have taken
advantage of "trading arms for peace" of their own accord. They
have brought in hundreds of arms, magazines, landmines and
thousands of ammunition. Returnees are warmly welcomed. The
returnees realize that years of fighting have achieved nothing and
that fighting does not serve the country in any way. They realize
the genuine goodwill of the Government and are now ready to
participate in regional development activities.

     The so-called "Karen refugee camps" on the border are in fact
safe havens for the KNU armed group and their sympathizers.
Credible foreign analysts publicly confirm that the camps were
used as staging points in KNU raids into Myanmar.

     The Myanmar Government stands ready to receive back All
Myanmar nationals who had been residing in the so-called "refugee

     Peace prospects are now bright for the people in the Kayin
State. Development plans can at long last be initiated.  The
long-suffering people of the Kayin State can look forward to a
measure of progress and prosperity evident already elsewhere in
the country.

Mr Chairman,

     My delegation takes the opportunity to inform the Commission
on some views and policies of the Government of Myanmar on human

- Myanmar holds the view that countries differ from each other due
to differences in historical background, cultural traditions,
religion and level of development. Culturally and in terms of
perception, there exists a vast difference between the East and
West. By this, we do not mean to infer that there exist no human
rights principles applicable to All persons.  However, divergences
can be seen in approaches and implementation of human rights
practices. At the same time, countries or groups of countries
should avoid attempting to impose their views and values of human
rights on the rest of the international community.

- For developing countries like Myanmar, the most essential and
fundamental basic right is to meet the food, clothing and shelter
needs and to raise the standards of living of he people. Without
ensuring this basic right, other aspects of human rights cannot be
effectively implemented. Although some countries stress the
importance of civil and political rights, developing countries
like Myanmar believe that the equal prominence should be accorded
to economic, social and cultural rights. The right to development
is especially important to developing countries.

- It is our belief that community rights should have equal
importance, if not more, than individual rights. Moreover, in
times of conflict between individual rights and national interest,
there are situations that call for priority to be accorded to the
interests of the nation. Each individual possesses not only rights
but also duties and obligations to his country and to his society.
It is a fact that extreme practices of individual rights can lead
to disorder and unrest. Economic development and political
stability are interdependent since economic development can be
obtained only during times of political stability. Similarly,
economic development contributes toward political stability.

- As the view, approaches, application and implementation of human
rights differ from country to county because of the
dissimilarities in historical experience, cultural traditions,
religion and level of development. Myanmar believes that
implementation of human rights in the national context should be
the responsibility and competence of each government. Human rights
should not be used as a pretext for interfering in matters that
are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of states. By
this, it does not mean that human rights can be systematically
violated behind the barrier of non-interference. What remains
paramount is to promote human rights through international
cooperation and consensus-building.

     Together with other developing and non-aligned countries,
Myanmar believes that there should be strict observance of the
principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and
non-interference in the internal affairs of other States. Myanmar
is opposed to the misuse of human rights with political motives,
to double standards and selectivity, and means of applying
pressure. Such tactics are detrimental and counterproductive to
the advancement of human rights.

Thank you Mr. Chairman