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TITLE:  BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                             
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994


Burma is ruled by a highly authoritarian, military regime that 
has been condemned for its serious human rights abuses.  
Heading the latest version of a military dictatorship that has 
presided over the country with an unyielding grip for more than 
three decades is the State Law and Order Restoration Council 
(SLORC), which took power in September 1988 after harshly 
suppressing massive prodemocracy demonstrations.  Longtime 
dictator General Ne Win, whose policies had pushed Burma to the 
margins of the international community and driven the country 
into a deep economic decline, resigned shortly before SLORC's 
emergence.  Nevertheless, he continued to wield the power 
behind the scenes.  

The SLORC, headed by the armed forces commander and composed of 
senior military officers, permitted a relatively free election 
in 1990.  However, it failed to honor the results--which were 
an overwhelming rejection of military rule--or to cede power to 
the victorious party headed by prodemocracy movement leaders.  
Instead, the SLORC attacked the coalition of winning political 
parties through detentions, house arrests, and intimidation.

Since General Than Shwe became Chief of State in April 1992, 
the SLORC has taken some modest steps to lessen its harsh rule, 
including reopening the universities and releasing over 2,000 
political prisoners.  In January 1993, the SLORC inaugurated a 
national convention to begin work on a new constitution.  
However, SLORC officials stage-managed the proceedings and 
overrode even limited opposition, interrogating and harassing 
delegates who attempted to deviate from the regime's position, 
and even sentenced one prodemocracy delegate to 20 years in 
prison for distributing information critical of the convention 
proceedings.  It seems clear that the SLORC's domination of the 
convention, which has no mandate from the people, is to ensure 
adoption of a constitutional blueprint effectively guaranteeing 
the military's continued hold on power.

The Government reinforces its rule via a pervasive security 
apparatus led by the Directorate of Defense Services 
Intelligence (DDSI) and the National Intelligence Bureau 
(NIB).  Control is buttressed by restrictions on contact with 
foreigners; surveillance of government employees and private 
citizens; and arrests, detentions, harassment, intimidation, 
and mistreatment of political activists.  The Government 
justifies its security measures as necessary to maintain order 
and national unity, although several longstanding insurgent 
groups have reached accommodations with the SLORC in recent 
years and the others pose little threat to major population 

Burma is primarily an agricultural country, although it also 
has substantial mineral, fishing, and timber resources.  After 
Ne Win's 26-year rule reduced southeast Asia's richest land to 
a U.N.-designated "least developed country," the SLORC 
abandoned the "Burmese Way to Socialism" in 1988, opening up 
the economy to permit private sector expansion and attract 
investment and badly needed foreign exchange, which has 
resulted in a limited improvement in the economy.  The 
Government has hindered development of the private sector, 
however, by failing to address fundamental problems:  
restrictions on private commerce; constantly changing rules and 
regulations; overcentralized decision making; a bloated 
bureaucracy; a greatly overvalued currency; poor civilian 
infrastructure; and grossly disproportionate military spending.

There was no marked increase in the level of human rights 
abuses in 1993, in large measure because the SLORC had already 
been so successful in intimidating the Burmese people.  At the 
same time, Burmese authorities took only limited steps to 
correct longstanding, serious human rights violations.  The 
Government's use of forced labor--especially as porters for the 
army--as well as forced resettlement of civilians continued, 
causing hundreds of deaths due to disease, harsh treatment, and 
overwork.  Five hundred or more Burmese remained in prison for 
political reasons, including more than 40 parliamentarians 
elected in 1990; approximately 200,000 Rohingyas (Burmese 
Muslims from Arakan State) remained in refugee camps in 
Bangladesh; a few thousand students and dissidents continued as 
exiles in Thailand; and roughly 71,000 Burmese live in ethnic 
minority camps in Thailand near the Burma border.

Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi remained under house arrest, 
her fifth year of detention by the SLORC, without being charged 
or having access to legal proceedings.  The SLORC persisted in 
denying basic freedom of speech and assembly, and arbitrary 
intrusions into private life remained pervasive.  In a closed 
trial, in October, the regime sentenced 12 dissidents, 
including one of the delegates to the National Convention, to 
20 years in prison for distributing anti-SLORC information.

The SLORC ignored a comprehensive resolution on Burma adopted 
by consensus in 1993 at the U.N. Human Rights Commission 
(UNHRC) calling for an end to human rights violations in Burma, 
the unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all other 
political prisoners, and the implementation of the 1990 

On the positive side, the SLORC commuted all death sentences 
handed down since it took power; released over 700 persons 
believed to be political prisoners; permitted the first-ever 
meetings between political prisoners and foreign visitors; and 
allowed additional family visits to Aung San Suu Kyi.  Over 
50,000 Rohingyas returned to Arakan State in 1993, and the 
Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding in November 
with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) providing 
for a presence in Arakan State to monitor the repatriation and 
reintegration of Rohingyas from Bangladesh.

Nonetheless, on balance, in view of the persistent abuses by 
the SLORC, including its use of forced labor, its wholesale 
denial of basic political rights, and blatant manipulation of 
the national convention, Burma must continue to be judged a 
serious violator of international human rights norms.  The 
expressions of deep concern by the international community 
about the human rights situation in Burma in successive 
resolutions adopted since 1991 by the UNHCR and the U.N. 
General Assembly have failed thus far to have an appreciable 
impact on the SLORC's behavior.


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

Although secret, extrajudicial killings reportedly were carried 
out in recent years, there were no such reports in 1993.  As in 
the past, credible sources reported many deaths among those 
impressed for forced labor projects and porterage.

There were no confirmed incidents of summary executions of 
civilians in 1993.  In late February, U Win Ko, a deputy-elect 
of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and finance minister 
in the opposition National Coalition Government of the Union of 
Burma (NCGUB), was murdered in Kunming, China.  Burmese 
authorities have denied any involvement, and independent 
sources suggest other parties were responsible.  U Hla Pe, who 
served as the NCGUB's Minister of Education and Health and 
Minister of Information, was murdered in Bangkok in mid-June.  
There is, however, no evidence as to the perpetrators.

     b.  Disappearance

The number of disappearances in 1993 was probably little 
changed from the previous year, but accurate estimates are 
impossible since the Government will not provide information on 
these cases.  Family and friends assume that those who have 
disappeared are under detention or have died in jail.  Family 
members can generally determine that relatives have been 
arrested, but the process of obtaining information can take a 
long time.  Some who disappeared were later reported as 
arrested.  Others may have dropped out of sight or quietly 
attempted to leave the country for fear of arrest.

Authorities rarely responded to inquiries from families 
concerning the whereabouts and welfare of disappeared or jailed 
relatives.  The few replies routinely consisted of only general 
statements that such people were arrested for violations of 
existing laws.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Fragmentary evidence documents that mistreatment of political 
detainees continued to take place in Burmese prisons and 
detention centers operated by the security services.  There has 
been a decline in the number of detentions, during which the 
worst abuse reportedly occurs.  Political detainees are held 
incommunicado, with family or lawyers unable to visit during 
what can be a protracted pretrial period.  The most common 
forms of maltreatment during this period were sleep and food 
deprivation coupled with round-the-clock interrogation.

In recent years, severe beatings and forcing prisoners to squat 
or assume unnatural positions for lengthy periods have also 
been reported, and techniques designed to intimidate and 
disorient prisoners prior to interrogation have been routine.  
Such practices as electrical shocks to the genitals, 
suffocation, and cigarette burns have also been reported in the 
past, but there were no confirmed reports of these practices in 

During 1993 there were no reports alleging torture of convicted 
political prisoners or deaths linked to the conditions of their 
imprisonment.  Khin Maung Myint of the leftist People's 
Progressive Party (PPP) died in prison in 1993, apparently of 
natural causes after repeated stays in a prison medical 
facility despite his family's request for his transfer to a 
civilian hospital.  Interviews by U.S. citizens and 
Congressional visitors on private travel with SLORC-selected 
prisoners at Insein prison near Rangoon indicate an overly 
harsh prison regimen, i.e., little exercise, no reading or 
writing materials for many if not most prisoners, poor 
nutrition, years of solitary confinement for some, and illness 
induced by sleeping on concrete cell floors.  Student leader 
Min Ko Naing, who met with two visiting American Congressmen at 
Insein Prison in August, displayed the effects of serious 
physical and psychological abuse.  A few prominent prisoners, 
such as former NLD Chairmen Tin Oo and Kyi Maung, were provided 
limited reading material and bungalow accommodations.  Those 
interviewed acknowledged receiving medicine as well as 
supplemental food brought by their families during 15-minute 
visits permitted every 2 weeks.

The Government continued to bar the International Committee of 
the Red Cross (ICRC) from visiting detainees or convicted 
prisoners of any kind.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Arbitrary arrest and detention are practiced routinely by the 
SLORC.  Throughout the year at least scores of political 
activists were detained for low-level political protests, such 
as handing out opposition flyers, painting political graffiti, 
or shouting opposition slogans.  Some detentions coincided with 
the startup of sessions of the national convention or with 
various political anniversaries.  Shortly after the January 9 
launching of the national convention, for example, the 
authorities announced the arrest of 23 activists including Nay 
Lin, a youth organizer for the Federation of Trade Unions of 
Burma, who allegedly painted graffiti on a Rangoon wharf.  Some 
students were picked up for staging a brief demonstration on 
June 7 at a suburban campus of Rangoon University.  Several NLD 
members, including at least one successful candidate in the 
1990 election, were detained after taking part in a 
wreath-laying ceremony at Aung San's tomb.  Between June and 
August, the authorities also arrested 12 persons, including the 
writer Ma Thida and the successful NLD candidate and delegate 
to the national convention, Dr. Aung Khin Sint, for 
distributing opposition literature.  In what was widely 
recognized as a warning to others, all were convicted in 
mid-October and given harsh 20-year prison sentences.

While most detainees were members of political parties or 
engaged in overtly political activities, businessmen and other 
private citizens were also subject to arbitrary detention, 
particularly as the increase in private economic activity in 
1993 led to additional scrutiny of businesses by security 

The military again extended the house arrest of former NLD 
General Secretary and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.  
The decision was taken under the provisions of the Law to 
Safeguard the State from the Dangers of Subversive 
Elements--also the basis for her initial year of house arrest 
which began in 1989.  As amended in August 1991, the law 
authorizes 1-year extensions of arbitrary detention without 
charge or trial for up to 5 years.  Aung San Suu Kyi has never 
been formally charged.  The authorities have offered her an 
opportunity to substitute foreign exile for her current house 
arrest, but she declined to leave the country.  The military 
Government again allowed her husband and two sons to visit her 
in 1993.  The authorities refused a proposed visit by a group 
of fellow Nobel Laureates seeking her release.

There is no provision in Burmese law for judicial determination 
of the legality of detention.  Bail may be granted by civilian 
courts in some circumstances.  The number of political 
detainees not sentenced by year's end was impossible to 
determine accurately.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Throughout 1993 the Government continued to rule by decree and 
was not bound by any constitutional provisions guaranteeing 
fair public trials or any other rights.  Until abolished in 
September 1992, military tribunals exercised jurisdiction over 
all cases involving defiance of orders issued by the SLORC or 
local commanders.  These tribunals could mete out only three 
sentences--the death penalty, life imprisonment, 3 years or 
more imprisonment with labor--regardless of existing laws.  On 
January 1, however, a government decree codified an existing 
moratorium on capital punishment by commuting all previous 
SLORC-imposed death sentences to life imprisonment.  It also 
capped all other prison terms at 10 years for anyone convicted 
during the SLORC era.

After denying for years that it held any political prisoners, 
in April 1992, the Government announced its intention to free 
those persons "detained politically" who did not represent a 
threat to state security.  Between that time and the end of 
1993, the SLORC announced the release of more than 2,000 
persons, although fewer than 200 were publicly identified.  The 
failure to identify most released persons invites suspicions 
about whether they were actually political prisoners, but 
opposition activists believe this was generally the case.  
Reliable sources indicate that some of those released in 1993 
were monks imprisoned for participating in 1988 prodemocracy 
rallies and a 1990 boycott action, including prominent Rangoon 
Abbot Thu Mingala; prodemocracy businessman Ye Htoon; and 
numerous Karens and others suspected of supporting the 1991 
Irrawaddy Delta insurgency.

The 1992 decree also implicitly acknowledged that political 
prisoners had been held not only in Rangoon's Insein Prison but 
also in over 20 upcountry locations--many of which were still 
believed to hold some political prisoners at the end of 1993.  
The remaining political prisoners included former military 
officers Tin Oo and Kyi Maung, both of whom had served as 
chairmen of the NLD, comedian Zargana, student leader Min Ko 
Naing, and lawyer U Nay Min.  

Since September 1992, civil courts have handled civil and 
criminal cases, as well as political trials.  Civilian courts 
have reportedly become fairer in handling nonpolitical cases 
since 1988, but remain plagued by corruption, inordinate delays 
in processing cases and appeals, and poor training and 
unprofessional behavior on the part of some court officers.

Some basic due process rights, including the right to a public 
trial and to be represented by a defense attorney, are 
generally respected by civilian judges.  Judges are appointed 
by the Supreme Court with the approval of the SLORC (which also 
names justices to the Supreme Court).  At present, judges must 
be at least law officers with legal training.  Defense 
attorneys are permitted to call and cross-examine witnesses, 
but their primary purpose is to bargain with the judge to 
obtain the shorest possible sentence for their clients.  Cases, 
almost all political, which are tried in courtooms in prison 
compounds are not open to the public.  In such cases, while 
defendants may have access to a defense attorney, counsel 
appears to serve no purpose other than to provide moral 
support.  Reliable reports indicate that in political cases due 
process is largely ignored and verdicts manipulated.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

The State continued to intrude extensively into the lives of 
private citizens during 1993.  Forced entry and warrantless, 
unannounced searches of private homes were often conducted.  
Through its extensive intelligence network, the Government 
closely monitored the travel, whereabouts, and activities of 
many Burmese, particularly those known to be politically 
active.  Security personnel selectively monitored private 
correspondence and telephone calls.  Contacts or communications 
involving foreigners were subject to especially intense 
scrutiny, and government employees were required to obtain 
advance permission before meeting with foreigners.  Despite 
some efforts by the Government to improve its image by meeting 
in October with the head of the British Broadcasting 
Corporation Far Eastern Service, official propaganda continued 
in 1993 to take aim at various foreign news services, and 
private citizens were generally unable to subscribe directly to 
foreign publications.  Two international newsmagazines were 
distributed through official channels and were available to the 
public at large, but censors occasionally banned issues or 
deleted articles criticizing local conditions or reporting 
opposition activities.  Foreign radio broadcasts remained a 
prime source of information for the people and even for the 
military, despite the Government's hostility to this news 
source.  The authorities sought to register the growing number 
of television satellite receivers but appeared ready to 
tolerate their use.  Some foreign journalists, including 
television crews, continued to be granted access to the 
country, but their movements and contacts were closely 

In its most intensive and egregious infringement of privacy 
rights, the Government continued its program of forced 
resettlement, involving an estimated half-million urban 
residents throughout Burma since 1989.  While most of those 
forced to move were described as "squatters," some people had 
been living in and paying rent on their former home sites for 
many years and had constructed permanent houses.  The 
Government has made people move, almost totally at their own 
expense, to "new towns" which are far from their previous 
residences.  "New  town" occupants often live on former rice 
paddy land, subject to flooding in the rainy season, without 
adequate transportation, medical facilities, shelter, or 
sanitation.  In 1993 conditions at some resettlement sites 
improved, but, according to international observers, such 
improvements were often unable to keep pace with the rate of 
new arrivals.  Some outside experts accept the Government's 
explanation that the resettlement program serves legitimate 
long-term urban planning objectives, but they do not endorse 
the forceful methods used to move people.

     g.  Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian 
         Law in Internal Conflicts

The Burmese Army has battled diverse insurgencies for more than 
four decades in conflicts that have resulted in widespread 
human rights violations, including mistreatment and killing of 
prisoners, rape, neglect of the sick and wounded, impressment 
of civilians for porter duty, and indiscriminate attacks on 
civilians.  While the Government was responsible for the bulk 
of these abuses (the Burmese armed forces nearly doubled the 
number of combat units since 1988), insurgent groups have also 
violated humanitarian principles.  Insurgent groups, such as 
the Karen, Mon, and Karenni, continued to engage in small-scale 
fighting, mostly in remote areas, to try to gain greater 
autonomy from the dominant ethnic Burman majority.  Some 
receive limited outside support from private international 
humanitarian and religious organizations.  The Shan United Army 
(SUA) also claims to be fighting for greater autonomy but 
engages primarily in drug trafficking.  Several former 
insurgent groups with which the Government now has cease-fire 
accommodations likewise are important narcotics trafficking 
organizations.  The continued suspension of large-scale 
military offensives against insurgents in Karen state and 
elsewhere, together with ongoing government efforts to reach a 
peace accord with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), sharply 
reduced the level of fighting during 1993.

In 1993 the use of forced porterage continued, with attendant 
casualties.  Most of these deaths, roughly estimated to be in 
the hundreds, were from disease and overwork, though reports of 
mistreatment and rape were also common.  The Burmese military 
also continued to use corvee labor and prison labor in combat 
areas.  There were unconfirmed reports, for example, that on at 
least two occasions a combined total of as many as 700 inmates 
from a prison near Rangoon were taken to work as porters in 
eastern Burma.  Credible reports from multiple sources 
indicated that porters have carried ammunition, supplies, and 
the wounded under the harshest conditions.  Other well-placed 
sources also note that they are subject to hostile fire as well 
as maltreatment at the hands of Burmese soldiers.  When porters 
are wounded, ill, or unable to continue their work, some have 
been reportedly left unattended to die.  At the end of their 
service, survivors often have had to find their own means to 
return home.  It was also credibly reported that some members 
of the military used sham threats of impressment to extort 
money from villagers.

Forced rural resettlement displaced ethnic minority villagers 
in Karen and Kayah states and contributed to an increase of 
about 6,000 Burmese in camps on the Thai side of the border.  
Local sources reported some amelioration of conditions 
following the completion of the railroad to Loikaw for Catholic 
villagers in Kayah State who had been resettled in March 1992, 
and that many returned to their original homes.  Reports from 
Karen State suggest rural relocation schemes continued to play 
a key role in the Government's counterinsurgency strategy.

Despite this evidence that the Burmese authorities were not 
prepared fully to implement their obligations under the Geneva 
Conventions, in April and November the Government for the first 
time permitted the International Committee of the Red Cross 
(ICRC) to conduct two short seminars on humanitarian law for 
groups of military officers.

Antigovernment groups were responsible for violence causing 
civilian and military deaths, including reported killings of 
civilians during attacks on villages and ambushes or mining of 
transportation routes.  In two separate incidents in February 
and March, over 100 confirmed civilian deaths resulted from 
military conflicts involving the narcotics-trafficking Shan 
United Army.  Credible reports indicate Karenni insurgents 
executed at least eight captured Burmese soldiers, and civilian 
deaths in a transport train blown up by a land mine were 
attributed to Mon activists.  Additionally, reliable multiple 
sources indicated that Karen insurgents resorted to forced 
labor for porterage and impressed youths into military service.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

Severe restrictions on freedom of speech and the press 
persisted throughout 1993.  Although the degree of enforcement 
varied, the Government generally continued to demonstrate 
little tolerance for opposing views or criticism.  Private 
citizens remained reluctant to express opinions for fear of 
government informers.  The U.N. Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) 
Special Rapporteur deplored the "pervasive atmosphere of fear 
and repression" in Burma in his report adopted by the UNHRC in 
March.  The Government exercised strict censorship of all news 
and publications produced in the country.

Nevertheless, private magazines found it possible to publish 
articles on once taboo economic subjects, and some former 
political prisoners were allowed to publish on nonsensitive 
topics.  The government-controlled press and broadcast services 
continued to publish some limited criticism and satire in 
1993.  The Government adopted a tolerant approach toward the 
increasing activities of the United States Information Service 
in Rangoon, permitting it to distribute publications and 
organize discussions which treated themes involving human 
rights and fundamental freedoms.  The authorities' actions in 
attempting to register private satellites dishes and impose 
fines on the many Burmese who had set up unauthorized satellite 
television receivers slowed the spread of access to uncensored 
television news and other programming from abroad.  No seizures 
of satellite receivers, however, were reported in 1993.

The Government made heavy use of its monopoly of television and 
radio to pursue its political policies and, with the exception 
of coverage of some aspects of the national convention, did not 
accord air time to opposing views.  The same was true of all 
newspapers--two national dailies in Burmese and one in English, 
as well as daily papers published by the Rangoon city 
government and the Central (Mandalay area) Military Command.  A 
revamping and renaming of the country's main daily in April 
resulted in increased publication of locally edited 
international wire service news, but that paper, as well as 
other newspapers, remained staunchly official organs, with 
military officials appointing editors and vetting editorials.  
Especially for domestic news, journalists had to hew to strict 
publishing and broadcast guidelines.  All forms of 
media--domestic and imported books and periodicals, stage 
plays, motion pictures, and musical recordings--were officially 
controlled and censored.  Persons working in these fields 
admitted to exercising self-censorship lest they run afoul of 
the authorities.

University teachers and professors remained subject to the same 
restrictions on freedom of speech, political activities, and 
publications as other government employees.  These included 
warnings against criticism of the Government; instructions not 
to discuss politics while at work; and strictures against 
joining or supporting political parties, engaging in political 
activity, and meeting foreign officials.  While all teachers 
remained subject to dismissal for political disloyalty, some 
left the profession voluntarily to escape the political 

The universities, closed for several years after the 1988 
disturbances, were open for most of 1993.  However, they were 
closed from December 1992 until mid-February in what many 
believe was a move to avoid student demonstrations during the 
startup of the politically sensitive national convention.  
Meanwhile, on the main campus of Rangoon University, fences 
built around the various faculties prior to the university's 
reopening remained in place, reportedly to help control 
potential student unrest.  In a move also widely believed 
intended primarily to disperse and isolate students, a fifth 
national university opened outside Rangoon in November.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Government does not respect the right to freedom of 
peaceful assembly.  A prohibition on outdoor assemblies of more 
than five people was unevenly enforced, but political 
demonstrations were strictly banned.

Political parties were required to request permission from the 
authorities even to hold internal meetings of their own 
membership.  The military's intimidation generally served to 
discourage public expressions of antigovernment sentiments.  In 
the few reported instances of unauthorized political activity, 
security forces generally intervened swiftly to detain or 
imprison participants in unauthorized meetings and to halt 
distribution of antigovernment leaflets.  The authorities 
reportedly were quick to deploy a large-scale force in Mandalay 
in September when a spontaneous demonstration unexpectedly took 
on political overtones.

The right of association existed only for those organizations, 
including trade associations and professional bodies, permitted 
by law and duly registered with the Government.  Moreover, the 
Government severely restricted the activities of even these 
organizations.  Ten political parties remained formally legal 
at the end of 1993--down from 75 at the beginning of 1992--but 
they were virtually paralyzed through arrests, intimidation, 
and surveillance.  In February the authorities permitted a 
large private funeral to be organized for the wife of one-time 
oppositionist and former Prime Minister U Nu.  While the 
Government denied visas to two sons living abroad, it permitted 
a daughter active in the Burmese opposition in India to attend.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion is provided for in law.  Despite the 
privileged position of Buddhists in government service, this 
right is widely observed in practice although there have been 
human rights abuses against some believers.  Buddhist pagodas, 
Muslim mosques, and Christian churches operate openly with 
minimal interference, at least in those areas of central Burma 
accessible to independent observers.  Christians, Muslims, and 
animists are particularly numerous among minority ethnic 
groups.  While generally allowing these groups to practice 
freely, security services monitor the activities of religious 
communities.  The Government requires all religious 
organizations to register and subjects religious publications 
to the same control and censorship imposed on secular ones.  
Restrictions on unauthorized religious groups remained in 
force, and the military continued to monitor activities in and 
around Buddhist monasteries and pagodas.  The SLORC has been 
largely successful in halting political activism among the 
Buddhist clergy.

Religious groups can and did establish links with 
coreligionists in other countries, although such links were 
reportedly monitored by the Government.  The Catholic Church, 
for example, maintained ties to the Vatican.  While foreign 
religious representatives were usually allowed only to obtain 
visas for short stays, in some cases they were permitted to 
preach to Burmese congregations.  Though permanent missionary 
establishments have not been permitted since the 1960's, some 
foreign Catholic nuns and at least one priest continued to 
reside upcountry, most working in homes for the aged.

As part of its large-scale "urban development" program in 
recent years, the Government has taken control of several 
Christian and Muslim properties throughout Burma, including 
cemeteries.  On the other hand, school authorities in Rangoon 
eventually exempted Muslim students from bowing to their 
teachers, when those students complained the action resembled a 
practice used in Buddhist worship.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Although Burmese citizens have the legal right to live anywhere 
in the country, both urban and rural residents have been 
subject to arbitrary relocation.  Except for limitations in 
areas of insurgent activity, Burmese citizens could travel 
freely within the country but had to inform local authorities 
of their temporary place of residence.  People staying 
overnight with friends or relatives within their home cities or 
villages were also required to report this to the authorities.

People who failed to report either guests or intentions to stay 
overnight to the authorities were theoretically subject to a 
jail term, and arrests were occasionally made.  Noncitizen 
residents, including ethnic Indians and Chinese born in Burma 
who hold foreigners' registration cards, had to obtain prior 
permission to travel.

Though travel strictures continued to ease, the Government 
maintained controls on departure from the country.  While the 
authorities simplified certain requirements for obtaining a 
passport, other requirements plus bureaucratic procedures and 
corruption still presented formidable hurdles.  Those traveling 
abroad to work, however, encountered fewer difficulties, 
particularly as Burmese authorities sought to increase hard 
currency earnings from the taxes they impose on such persons' 
earnings.  Emigrants, by contrast, were required to reimburse 
the Government for "educational expenses" before receiving exit 
permission and were severely limited in what they could take 
with them.

Burmese citizens who left legally were generally allowed to 
return to visit relatives, and those wishing to extend their 
stays found it easier to obtain permission to do so.  Even some 
who had stayed abroad illegally and acquired foreign 
citizenship found it easier to return to visit or do business.  
In a move widely believed to be intended to encourage wealthy 
older overseas Burmese to retire in Burma, the Government 
announced in May that Burmese abroad would have 2 years to 
reapply for citizenship lost through naturalization in another 
country.  At about the same time, the Ministry of Home Affairs 
announced that Burmese abroad holding expired travel documents 
could obtain new passports or an extension of their old ones.

Obtaining these benefits, however, remained subject to 
government approval on a case-by-case basis.  Moreover, some 
Burmese living abroad, particularly those who had traveled or 
remained abroad illegally, continued to fear subjecting 
themselves to potential punitive action by Burmese authorities 
if they should return to Burma.  By September, 14 persons had 
been allowed to resettle in Burma, and another 14 had had their 
Burmese passports extended or replaced.

In 1993 foreigners were allowed into the country in increasing 
numbers on an individual, rather than only on a tour group, 
basis.  The authorities also took several steps to liberalize 
travel for foreigners within Burma, though large areas of the 
country remained off limits on security grounds.  Tourist and 
family visit visas are routinely granted for 2 to 4 weeks, and 
can be extended on a case-by-case basis.  However, select 
foreigners, such as human rights advocates and political 
figures, continued to be denied entry visas unless traveling 
under the aegis of a sponsor acceptable to the Government.  A 
private voluntary organization, Medecins Sans Frontieres/
Holland, is now operating in Burma and has foreign personnel 
assigned to Rangoon on a permanent basis.

In April 1992, following the flight into Bangladesh of an 
estimated 265,000 Muslims from Arakan State in order to escape 
military repression, the Governments of Bangladesh and Burma 
signed a Memorandum of Understanding providing for the 
voluntary repatriation of the refugees.  However, Burma, unlike 
Bangladesh, did not accept a role for UNHCR in the repatriation 
process at that time.  In the absence of an adequate 
international monitoring presence in Burma, most Rohingyas were 
reluctant to return to Arakan.  After a private visit by High 
Commissioner Sadako Ogata to Burma in late July and subsequent 
talks between the Burmese authorities and UNHCR representatives,
the Government of Burma signed a Memorandum of Understanding 
with the UNHCR in November which provides that the UNHCR will 
have a presence in Arakan State and will have access to all 
returnees.  The agreement is intended to cover the monitoring 
and administration of the return to Burma in safety and dignity 
of about 200,000 Rohingyas who remain in refugee camps in 
Bangladesh.  Of those who fled between late 1991 and mid-1992, 
some 50,000 were repatriated to Burma in 1993.

Foreign refugees or displaced persons may not resettle or seek 
safe haven in Burma.  The Government treats people claiming to 
be refugees as illegal immigrants and expels or imprisons them.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Burma is governed solely by the military, and the Burmese 
people do not have the right or the ability peacefully to 
change their government.  Since 1988 active duty military 
officers have occupied many important positions throughout the 
bureaucracy, particularly at the policymaking level.  Despite 
the appointment of several civilians to the Cabinet in 1992, 
military or recently retired military officers have continued 
to occupy most cabinet-level positions, numerous director 
general and subordinate posts, and key positions once held by 
technocrats in the economic ministries.

In the 1990 election the NLD and associated parties achieved an 
overwhelming victory.  The SLORC subsequently set aside the 
results and disqualified, detained, arrested, or drove into 
exile many successful candidates, including most of the NLD 
leadership.  By the end of 1993, 174 of the 485 deputies 
elected had either been disqualified, resigned under pressure, 
gone into exile, been detained, or died.  At least 46 
successful candidates from the election or prominent NLD 
activists were serving prison sentences.  In 1992 the SLORC 
held discussions with selected representatives of the few 
political parties which had not been banned outright, with a 
view to staging a national convention to write a new 
constitution without the participation of most leading members 
of the democratic opposition.  The national convention finally 
opened on January 9 and continued intermittently throughout the 
year until September 16, when it finally adjourned until the 
following January.  Of the approximately 700 delegates 
attending, only about 150 held mandates from the 1990 
elections.  Members of six of the eight interest groups 
represented were selected by the SLORC.  Using these groups as 
a majority, the Government forced through its own rules, its 
own agenda, and finally its own principles for a new 
constitution, guaranteeing continued military control of the 
Government.  During an intermediate stage, representatives of 
the NLD and minority groups were able to put forward some 
proposals clearly at odds with government preferences.  But the 
authorities carefully controlled the level of visible 
opposition by censoring presentations, declaring unwelcome 
documents off-limits to the public, forbidding discussion from 
the floor, and intimidating individual delegates behind the 
scenes.  There has been no genuine public discussion of the 
process that will be used to arrive at a new constitution.

One NLD victor in the 1990 election and national convention 
delegate, Dr. Aung Khin Sint, was convicted and sentenced to 20 
years' imprisonment for distributing opposition literature to 
his fellow delegates.  

In some regions where government forces exercise limited or no 
control, including in cases where the Government has reached an 
accommodation with former insurgent groups, indigenous 
populations have considerable autonomy in running their own 
political and economic affairs.  Even in government-controlled 
areas, they generally retain their social and cultural 

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

No internal human rights organizations are allowed to exist.  
The Government continued to oppose outside scrutiny of its 
human rights record but permitted somewhat greater access in 
1993 for some journalists, nongovernmental organizations, and 
foreign government officials wishing to examine the country's 
human rights situation.  Burmese authorities allowed UNHRC 
Special Rapporteur Professor Yokota to conduct another 
fact-finding mission in the country in November 1993.

In 1991, 1992, and again in 1993, the U.N. General Assembly 
(UNGA) adopted increasingly strong resolutions urging the 
Burmese Government to end human rights abuses and undertake 
genuine democratic reform.  The 1993 UNGA resolution called on 
the Government to release unconditionally Aung San Suu Kyi and 
other detained political leaders and to respect the expressed 
will of the Burmese people by implementing the results of the 
1990 elections.

The UNHRC Special Rapporteur appointed in March 1992, Professor 
Yozo Yokota, visited Burma in December 1992 and presented his 
report in February 1993.  He returned to Burma in November 1993 
to fulfill his mandate as Special Rapporteur.  The report 
offered a harsh catalog of human rights abuses in Burma and 
called for far-reaching remedial action.  In later reviewing 
the report, the UNHRC took special aim at the refusal of 
Burmese authorities to accord Dr. Yokota the "full and 
unreserved cooperation" and access to persons of his choice 
that had been conditions of his mission.  The Government, for 
its part, disputed the Special Rapporteur's mandate and 
rejected many of his findings.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status


Women in Burma in general have traditionally enjoyed a high 
status, exercising most of the same basic rights as men and 
taking an active role in business.  Consistent with traditional 
culture, they keep their own names after marriage and often 
control family finances.  However, participation of women 
remained low in the minuscule industrial sector and in the 
bureaucracy; a few professions, such as forestry and geology, 
are entirely barred to women.  Women do not consistently 
receive equal pay for equal work.  There continued to be no 
women's rights organizations in Burma or government agency 
specifically devoted to safeguarding women's interests.

There was no nationwide pattern of violence directed 
specifically against women.  However, reliable reports 
continued to indicate that many Burmese women and children in 
the border areas were forced or lured into serving as 
prostitutes in Thailand by criminals and criminal 
organizations.  Recruitment of these women generally occurred 
in remote areas where Burmese officials were unable to prevent 
the practice.  In 1993, impressment, including of women, for 
military porterage duties continued, with attendant casualties.

Although Burmese culturally view rape with great abhorrence, in 
1993 there continued to be a consistent pattern of reports 
alleging rapes of ethnic minority women in border areas by 
Burmese soldiers.


In mid-July the Government issued a law stipulating children's 
rights and containing provisions covering their protection and 
custody, education, employment, and judicial treatment.  
Burmese authorities also adopted in September a "National 
Program of Action" for the survival, protection, and 
development of the country's children.  By year's end it 
remained unclear whether the Government intended to give the 
program the political impetus needed to ensure the 
interministerial cooperation and resource allocation required 
to make it a success.

Government and UNICEF figures indicated the plight of children 
to be worse than was earlier realized.  Infant mortality is 
high (94 per 1000); 37 percent of children under 3 are severely 
or moderately malnourished; 31 percent of children aged 5 
through 14 suffer from iodine deficiency; only 62 percent of 
children enroll in primary school; and only 25 percent of 
children complete the prescribed 5-year course.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Burma's numerous ethnic minorities, which have their own 
distinct cultures and languages, have been underrepresented in 
the Government and largely excluded from the military 
leadership.  Despite recently increased government investment 
in the border areas in road, hospital, and school construction, 
economic development among minorities continued to lag and many 
still live at the subsistence level.

Since only people who can prove long familial links to Burma 
are accorded full citizenship, some people not of ethnic 
Burmese ancestry, primarily Indians and Chinese, continued to 
be denied full citizenship and to be excluded from government 
positions.  Individuals without full citizenship are also 
barred from certain advanced university programs in medicine 
and technological fields and are often the object of 
prejudice.  However, Indian and Chinese minorities continued to 
play an important role in the economy--a situation resented by 
many Burmans.

In Arakan State, some Rohingyas, who in general do not enjoy 
full citizenship, have also have been denied national identity 
cards.  Though a limited number of outside observers were able 
to visit Arakan State, albeit on a government-controlled basis, 
credible reports continued to emerge of discrimination and 
travel restrictions for Muslims in the area.  The 
well-documented human rights abuses which precipitated the 
original Rohingya exodus, however, appeared to have largely 
subsided.  At the same time, claims that Buddhists from 
elsewhere in Arakan State were being resettled nearer the 
border in previously Muslim areas were reliably confirmed.

Multiple, reliable sources indicated that the military 
occasionally required minority populations in the border 
regions to provide without compensation vehicles, equipment, 
and lodging for soldiers.

     Religious Minorities

The SLORC continued to associate itself closely with the 
majority Buddhist religion, giving wide publicity to the 
participation by its members in various Buddhist rites and 
ceremonies.  While this reportedly was a cause of concern among 
some members of other religions, the Government in fact 
continued to permit members of the major non-Buddhist faiths to 
practice their religion.  Religious organizations, however, 
remained subject to registration and censorship controls 
applicable to the entire population.  Restrictions on Muslims 
in Arakan State appear to be result primarily from their lack 
of full citizenship and to discrimination on ethnic grounds.

     People with Disabilities

Official assistance to persons with disabilities is extremely 
limited.  There is no law mandating accessibility to government 
facilities for those with disabilities.  A small number benefit 
from the services of the Mary Chapman School for the Deaf in 
Rangoon, which recently began receiving government patronage, 
or from modest religious-associated assistance programs funded 
through private donations.  Most disabled persons, however, 
must rely on traditional family structures to provide for their 
welfare, and many become destitute.  The principal exception is 
disabled members of the military, who receive medical 
attention, rehabilitation, and financial assistance, though 
most veterans receive such benefits only for a few years after 
discharge.  Reliable reports indicate that high-ranking 
officers receive better treatment than the rank and file.  
Since 1986 Burmese authorities have permitted representatives 
of the ICRC to work in Burma to upgrade provision of orthopedic 
prostheses.  Because of both landmines and train-related 
accidents, Burma has one of the highest rates of amputees in 
the world.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

In 1993 there continued to be no right of association among 
workers in Burma.  Workers were not free to form or join trade 
unions of their own choosing, and leaders of unofficial labor 
associations, such as youth organizer Nay Lin of the Federation 
of Trade Unions of Burma, were subject to arrest.  A new labor 
law was promised in connection with the drafting of a new 
constitution, but it is doubtful the document will ensure the 
right of workers to organize freely.  At a minimum, any trade 
unions which might form are expected to be firmly under 
government control.  Workers are not permitted to strike, and 
there were no reported instances in 1993 of attempts to do so.

In July 1989, the United States suspended Burma's eligibility 
for trade concessions under the Generalized System of 
Preferences program, pending steps to afford its labor force 
internationally recognized worker rights.  In 1990 the U.S. 
Government declined a formal request to reconsider the 

In June 1993, the International Labor Organization (ILO) 
Conference cited Burma in a "special paragraph", its strongest 
form of censure, for its longstanding failure to take "the 
necessary measures in legislation and practice to guarantee to 
all workers and all employers without any distinction and 
without prior authorization the right to organize even outside 
the existing trade union structure should they so wish."

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Workers continued not to have the right to organize and bargain 
collectively.  Government arbitration boards, which once 
theoretically provided a means for airing labor disputes, were 
abolished in 1988.  The Government unilaterally sets wages in 
the public sector.  In the private sector, wages are set by 
market forces.  In a job-scarce economy, this means employers 
determine wage levels.  The Government pressures joint ventures 
not to pay salaries greater than those of ministers or other 
high-level employees.  Joint ventures circumvent this via 
supplemental pay, including remuneration paid in foreign 
exchange certificates, as well as through incentive and 
overtime pay and other fringe benefits.  Foreign firms 
generally set wages near those of the domestic private sector 
but follow the practice of joint ventures in awarding 
supplemental wages and benefits.  

No special export processing zones exist.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Burma's legal code does not prohibit forced labor.  The 
military routinely employed corvee labor on its myriad building 
projects and, according to credible reports, officials accepted 
bribes to excuse some people from work.  Forced labor was used 
in constructing the railroad line opened in 1993 to Loikaw, 
capital of Burma's Kayah State.

The Burmese Army has for decades impressed civilian males to 
serve as porters.  According to reliable reports, in 1993 the 
army continued to abduct youths off the streets, chiefly in 
minority areas but also in some urban areas of central Burma.  
Women were also occasionally impressed as porters, cooks, and 
laundresses for soldiers in frontline areas, according to 
credible reports.  Military authorities commonly permitted 
conscripts and their families to pay them money in lieu of 
porter duty.

In June a Burmese diplomat in Singapore organized the 
confinement and forced return to Burma of a group of 11 Burmese 
seamen transiting Singapore en route from Australia to Thailand 
after the men prevailed in a wage dispute with the help of the 
International Transport Federation.  All remained free in 1993 
but are unable to regain employment abroad.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

Children aged 13 to 15 may work 4 hours a day.  The "Child Law" 
of July 14, 1993, governs most matters concerning children 
under the age of 16.  It gives each such child the right to 
"engage in work in accordance with law and its own volition."  
To date, the "law" referred to includes both the Factories Act 
of 1951 and the Children Pledging of Labor Act, this latter 
being an Indian law from 1933 still on the books.  In theory, 
the penalty for employers disregarding this regulation was 2 
years in prison, but there were no reports of any prosecutions 
in 1993 for illegally employing children, despite the fact 
that, in cities, working children were highly visible.  They 
were hired at lower pay rates than adults for the same kind of 
work, and economic pressure forced them to work not only for 
their survival but also to support their families.  Burmese law 
requires children to attend school through the fourth standard, 
usually reached between the ages of 12 and 15.  The Department 
of Basic Education estimated, however, that 38 percent of 
children aged 5 to 9 never enroll in school.  Of those who do, 
less than 30 percent complete the fourth grade.  Two-thirds of 
Burma's primary schoolchildren, principally in rural areas, 
leave school for economic reasons.  In the higher grades, the 
drop-out rate for girls is double that for boys.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

Depressed economic conditions and lack of attention by 
government authorities continued to dictate substandard 
conditions for workers.  The Law on Fundamental Workers Rights 
of 1964 and the Factories Act of 1951 regulate working 
conditions.  There is a legally prescribed 5-day, 35-hour 
workweek for employees in the public sector and a 6-day, 
44-hour workweek for private and parastatal sector employees, 
with overtime paid for additional work.  Workers have 21 paid 
holidays a year.  

Only government employees are protected by minimum wage 
provisions.  The minimum wage was raised in March to $3 per day 
(20 kyats) at the official exchange rate, but less than $0.20 
at the unofficial, free market rate.  The Government raised 
wages for public employees by 25 percent in March, but pay in 
the state sector remained far below the amount needed to 
provide a decent standard of living or counter the practice of 
taking bribes.  The actual average wage rate for casual 
laborers in Rangoon was about twice the official minimum.  
Wages continued to lag far behind inflation.  

To protect health and safety at workplaces, there are numerous 
regulations pertaining to room size, ventilation, fire hazards, 
and the availability of latrines and drinking water.  In 
practice, these were seldom enforced, particularly in the 
private sector. (###)

[end of document]


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