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reformat of Suu Kyi's video address (r)

Subject: reformat of Suu Kyi's video address to UNCHR

National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma
Burma UN Service Office
777 UN Plaza, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Tel:      (212) 3380048
Fax:     (212) 3380049
Email:  burma1un@xxxxxxxxxxx

April 8, 1997


Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner and leader of 
the National League for Democracy in Burma, made the 
following video address (which had to be smuggled out of 
Burma) to the 53rd session of the United Nations Human 
Rights Commission, Geneva, 8 April 1997.  

1.	I would like to ask your views on increasing 
restrictions placed on you and your MPs.

When I talk of human rights violations in Burma, I think not 
about...We can only think about which human rights are being 
violated, not in terms of which rights are not being 
violated.  But in terms of which human rights are being 
violated, I think I can say that all our rights are being 
	And the restrictions placed on members of the NLD 
and supporters of the NLD are really excessive.  It?s not 
just that we are prevented from doing our political work, 
the families of supporters are subjected to a lot of 
economic pressure.  There?s interference with their economic 
activities and even with educational activities.  There are 
those who have been threatened that if their parents don?t 
tow the line they will lose their jobs, or that they will 
not be allowed to take certain examinations.  Now whether 
the threats will be carried out I don?t know.  Threats have 
been made and in some cases people have been penalized 
because of their connections to members of the NLD, 
supporters of the NLD.
	Now at the moment a lot of our members of parliament 
have been forced to resign.  They have been forced to resign 
because of pressure to their families.  Some have refused to 
resign.  One of our members of parliament has been made to 
leave his state home apartment where he had lived for years 
because he refused to resign from the NLD.
	There are at the moment a number of cases pending, a 
number of trumped up cases against members of parliament 
from the NLD.  Now the latest case which I think was of 
considerable interest because of his connections to General 
Khin Nyunt was that of Doctor Than Yin who was arrested on 
the grounds that he had treated patients in his consultation 
room before the license had been issued property.  He was 
released I understand yesterday and only fined a thousand 
	Now this of course is very unusual.  I?ve not heard 
of members of the NLD who ever got away without some sort of 
prison sentence.  I don?t know whether Dr. Than Yin has got 
away with it because so many people have been speculating on 
why he was arrested.  There were those who said his arrest 
indicated that Khin Nyunt?s grip on power was slipping.  And 
perhaps because of these comments the authorities felt that 
it would be politic to let him off lightly.  But if he?s let 
off lightly then others in a similar situation should be let 
off lightly too.
	There?s a case of another NLD doctor who was, I 
think, charged with culpable homicide because a patient who 
was dying in any case and who he treated with an injection 
to enable the patient to reach the hospital, died on the way 
to hospital.  I understand that they have now changed the 
charge because that wouldn?t stick.  When they performed the 
autopsy they found that the patient hardly had any lungs 
left.  Almost all the whole of his lungs had been eaten away 
be tuberculosis.  So they could only conclude that he was 
going to die anyway.  But I understand that now they are 
trying to change the charge and make it one similar to that 
with which they charged Doctor Than Yin, giving treatment in 
a consultation room without a proper license.
	Now most doctors in Burma don?t have licenses for 
their consultations rooms.  They of course have proper 
medical certificates which give them the right to practice 
but the majority of doctors don?t bother about applying for 
a license for the consultation room simply because the 
authorities don?t bother to issue the licenses even if you 
apply for one.   So they use the rules and regulations.  
They use the law as they like in order to restrict the NLD, 
in order to stop people from working effectively for the 
democracy movement.
	My own road, the road to my house has been blocked 
off now for three months...it started...the first time they 
blocked it was in September but then that was on and off, 
they would open it occasionally.  Then they would block it 
off again.  But it?s been blocked off completely since the 
3rd of December so that makes it three months now, about 
three months tomorrow exactly.  And this of course is meant 
to stop us from carrying on our NLD activities in my home.  
And every time people come to see me they have to get 
permission from the authorities.
	And when Burmese people come to see me they are 
asked for their national registration certificate.  And 
sometimes they are kept waiting at the roadblock for a long 
time.  And as for people from abroad, especially 
journalists, sometimes they are just not allowed in at all. 
 Although the people at the barricades were informed that so 
and so would be coming, if they feel that they don?t want to 
let a certain person through they don?t let that person 
through.  They have done this to journalists and to 
diplomats as well.  So this is again a form of harassment.  
A way of trying to restrict the activities of the National 
League for Democracy.
	I would like to make the point that the NLD is not 
just a political party.  It represents a whole democratic 
movement in Burma.  Because all the other parties working 
for democracy have been effectively crushed.  There are of 
course some ethnic nationalities parties, but they are 
rather small and they don?t operate on a national basis.  
They only operate in their own areas.  Which leaves the NLD 
as the only political party that operates throughout the 
country and that represents the movement for democracy.  So 
restricting the NLD is tantamount to crushing democracy.  
	I would like to remind the international community 
of the fact that the general assembly resolution calls for 
an early restoration of democracy to Burma, in line of 
wishes of the people as expressed through the 1990 election. 
 Now that is a very good resolution, but it needs to be 
implemented.  That resolution also calls for the full and 
free participation of all the Burmese people in the 
political process of the country.  Again that needs to be 
	Our political rights are getting fewer and fewer by 
the day.  There are more restrictions, more repression, the 
authorities seem determined to crush any kind of political 
	They have, as I am sure many of your will have 
heard, they have built up a so-called social welfare 
organisation called the Union Solidarity and Development 
Association, the USDA.  Which they are using, occasionally 
as a political arm and occasionally as just a gang of thugs, 
to harass and intimidate those who are working for 
	In November it was members of the USDA who attacked 
the cars in which U Kyi Maung and U Tin U and I were 
travelling.  So I have no inhibitions in saying that the 
USDA more than occasionally performs the work of mere thugs. 
 Then this is not the way in which a responsible government 
should behave.  A responsible government does not build up a 
gang of hooligans to attack those who it wishes to crush 
	Ours is a non-violent political movement but however 
non-violent it may be, a political movement should be 
allowed to demonstrate its opposition to certain government 
policies if it thinks it is right to do so.  And there are 
many policies of the government which we are obliged to 
oppose because these policies are aimed at crushing the 
movement for democracy.  Because we are obliged to speak up 
against such government policies as are unjust and 
repressive, we should not be treated like criminals.
	Our people are treated worse than criminals because 
the families of criminals are not penalised.  If a man has 
committed a crime, whether it?s murder, or robbery, or 
assault, he is punished, his family members are not 
punished.  But in our case members, family members of the 
National League for Democracy...families of the National 
League for Democracy...are heavily penalised.  Often very 
heavily penalised.
	So the present situation is such that we need 
maximum attention on what is happening to the National 
League for Democracy.  Now this government is treating 
members of the National League for Democracy because that is 
an indication of the degree to which the authorities are 
prepared to go to prevent democracy from taking root in 
Burma.  And therefore that is in direct opposition to the 
spirit as well as the terms of the General Assembly 
2.  Views on recent religious unrest.

As I understand it, the unrest began in Mandalay because of 
the fact that there was some damage done to this very, very 
famous and very, very revered image of the Bhudda, the 
Mahama Yamoni image, and the monks were very angry about 
this and they thought that the authorities were in some way 
responsible for the...I think it was a crack which had 
appeared in the image.  And about the same time the problems 
with the Muslim community started.  And there are those who 
speculate that this was intended to distract attention from 
what had happened to the Mahama Yamoni image.  I don?t know 
how true this is, but I can say that the present problems 
between the Muslim communities and the Bhuddist monks does 
not do our country any good at all.
	And of course the authorities, as you can imagine, 
would like to blame the whole thing on the NLD.  They try to 
blame everything on NLD.  According to the authorities, it?s 
the NLD who always decides what?s happening in the country. 
 If we are so very powerful we might as well take over power 
	The present situation seems to be under control.  I 
think there are probably certain places in Burma where there 
is a lot of tension between the Muslims and the Bhuddists.  
But on the whole I think the people are quite calm, and they 
do not want trouble.  And I think that the community of 
Bhuddist monks on the whole also are calling for restraint 
and calm.  
	The real source, the real reason behind this, is I 
think social unrest.  Whenever there is communal strife 
anywhere it is due to social unrest.  Social unrest of 
course is related to such factors as political 
dissatisfaction and economic problems.  So we can?t just 
isolate the problems between the Bhuddist monks and the 
Muslims and say, well, there is trouble there.  There is 
trouble throughout the country.  It is just a symptom of the 
general malaise that you will find in Burma today.  I really 
hope that the situation will be resolved soon because we 
want Burma to be a country that is safe and secure for all 
its citizens whatever the religion.

3.  What about the situation on the Thai/Burma border at the 
moment, of refugees in some cases being pushed back?  Are 
you aware of the situation there?

Yes, and we are very concerned about this.  We really want 
the international community to help the refugees as far as 
possible.  And we would like the Thai authorities to look on 
these refugees with compassion and not to force them to 
return back to their homes where there is no security.
	Again, of course, the reason why there are so many 
refugees is because the ceasefire between the KNU and the 
military government has broken down.  And this is another 
indication of the unstable political situation of Burma 
today.  SLORC has been claiming that it has achieved 
ceasefires, it has been able to bring peace to the border.  
Well, obviously this is not so.
	Ceasefires do not mean peace, they do not mean 
long-term peace at all.  Ceasefires simply mean that you 
stop shooting at each other for a certain length of time.  
You still keep your guns at the ready.  Which means that you 
can start shooting any time you think that it?s no longer 
either wise or possible to continue with the ceasefire.
	We are very concerned about the situation of our 
ethnic nationalities.  Of course people know about these 
refugees but we understand that on this side of the border 
there are many, many villages of Karens and other ethnic 
nationalities where the people are subjected to a lot of 
persecution, repression, forced porterage, torture, and I am 
told even summary execution.
	So the situation is not good.  With regard to the 
refugees we really hope that the UNHCR will be allowed to 
help them.  And that the international community will 
provide them with as much support as possible.  

4.  What is your assessment of the current situation of 
human rights abuses in Burma?

Bad!  As I said earlier, one does not think in terms of 
which human rights have been violated, one thinks in terms 
of which human rights have not been violated.  And one 
sometimes comes to the conclusion that are no rights which 
have not been violated.
	Forced labour is a daily business.  And children are 
made to provide forced labour because often the parents 
can?t take time off to go and work on these forced labour 
projects.  The economic situation is bad.  The standards of 
living of a lot of people have fallen.  And there is a 
struggle in order to be able to eat two full meals a day.  
So if the parents have to go and work on forced labour 
projects where they are not paid it means that the family 
cannot eat for the day.  Consequently they sent children out 
to work on the project while the parents go out to earn 
	And of course there are always children on 
construction sites.  Now that is not forced labour but that 
again is due to economic pressure.  In a number of families 
they cannot make ends meet unless the children work as well.
	You can find this if you study the records of UNICEF 
with regard to children in primary schools.  The dropout 
rate of children in primary schools has been rising...This 
is primarily due to the poverty of family -- either they 
cannot afford to send the children to school because they 
cannot clothe them properly or they cannot give all these...
	Well, education is supposed to be free but actually 
you are made to contribute to this event and that event and 
this bit of school equipment and that bit of school 
furniture and so on.  So because they cannot afford to pay 
these charges or because they need the children to help them 
earn more money for the family, parents take their children 
away before they complete primary school and therefore the 
dropout is rising.  So child rights in Burma is an issue 
which needs to be addressed very urgently.

5.  In terms of the current situation, how do you see the 
international communities obligations at this time?

The main obligation of the international community is to do 
every thing it can to implement the terms of the General 
Assembly resolution.  As I said earlier it is a good 
resolution but it shouldn?t just remain on paper, it needs 
to be implemented.  And since it was passed unanimously I 
think the international community does have an obligation to 
try to implement its terms.  To take it seriously, not just 
to regard it as a piece of paper.
	I would like to call for a strong resolution on the 
human rights situation in Burma.  As I said earlier there 
are hardly any human rights which have not been violated by 
this military regime.  And we need strong action from the 
international community to put an end to these constant 
violations of our basic human rights.
	We would like the human rights resolution to address 
very particularly, the question of political rights.  As 
well as the right of people to be free from such pressures 
as forced labour, forced relocation.  And we would also like 
the resolution to address the question of the refugees.  I 
think these are the three main points that we would like 
	That political rights should be enjoyed by all of 
use and particularly by members of the National League for 
Democracy not because this is my party but because, as I 
have already said, it represents the movement for democracy 
in Burma.  And therefore protecting the political rights of 
the National League for Democracy is part of the process of 
helping to implement the terms of the general assembly 
resolution on Burma.
	And we would really like the question of forced 
labour and forced relocation to be addressed very seriously, 
because that disrupts the lives of families.  It causes ill 
health, it also...it even causes death in some cases.
	And of course the refugee problem.  The refugee 
problem ultimately is an offshoot of the political problem. 
 If there was political stability in Burma, if there were a 
democratic system that allowed people to express their 
hopes, their fears, their aspirations, their difficulties, 
their resentments --  through a legal channel -- there would 
not be all this problem of refugees.  There would not be 
this problem of insurgencies.
	People take to arms because they feel there is no 
other way in which they can resolve their problems.  If 
there were a system which allowed them to solve their 
problems politically rather than militarily, I think you 
will find that peace will come back to Burma.  And therefore 
the refugee problem would disappear.  Not overnight, but it 
will certainly disappear once there is a new kind of 
political system and political atmosphere in the country.
	Which is why I put the political rights of the 
National League for Democracy and other working for 
democracy in Burma as the most important item on the agency 
for the Human Rights Commission.  We would also like to make 
sure that the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations 
Secretary General is allowed to come to Burma to find out 
what is going on.  To meet the political opposition and hear 
from them exactly how they are subjected to persecution and 
we think that the idea of having a group of people to 
monitor the human rights situation in Burma from a suitable 
location is an excellent one, and I hope that this will be 
taken up by the United Nations.