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Special Rapporteur Lallah's 4/9/97 (r)

Subject: Special Rapporteur Lallah's 4/9/97 statement to UNCHR


9 APRIL 1997

Mr. Chairman,

In June 1996, 1 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 

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 

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, 1 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 issues.

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 

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 
must 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 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 II I F and Chapter IV B of the Report.

	Thank you, Mr. Chairman.