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TITLE: BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE: FEBRUARY 1995









                             BURMA


Burma continued to be ruled by a highly authoritarian military 
regime widely condemned for its serious human rights abuses.  
The Military Government, the State Law and Order Restoration 
Council (SLORC), headed by the armed forces commander and 
composed of top military officers, seized power in September 
1988 after harshly suppressing massive prodemocracy 
demonstrations.  Retired dictator General Ne Win, whose 
idiosyncratic policies had isolated Burma and driven the 
country into deep economic decline, is believed by many to 
continue to wield considerable influence.

The SLORC permitted a relatively free election in 1990, but it 
failed to honor the results--which were an overwhelming 
rejection of military rule--or to cede power to the victorious 
prodemocracy forces.  Instead, the SLORC attacked the coalition 
of winning parties and their leaders through intimidation, 
detention, and house arrest.  Since April 1992, the SLORC has 
taken some modest steps to lessen its harsh rule.  Universities 
were reopened, many political prisoners were released, and 
steps were taken to reform the economy.  But in January 1993 
the SLORC established the "National Convention," a body 
ostensibly tasked with working out a new Constitution.  
Overwhelmingly made up of delegates handpicked by the military, 
the SLORC has carefully stage-managed the Convention's 
proceedings and ignored even limited opposition views.  Despite 
having no mandate from the people, the SLORC seems determined 
to draft a Constitution that will guarantee a dominant role for 
the military in the country's future political structure.

The Government reinforces its rule via a pervasive security 
apparatus led by military intelligence, the Directorate of 
Defense Services Intelligence (DDSI).  Control is buttressed by 
selective restrictions on contact with foreigners, surveillance 
of government employees and private citizens, harassment of 
political activists, intimidation, arrest, detention, and 
physical abuse.  The Government justifies its security measures 
as necessary to maintain order and national unity, although 
many longstanding insurgent groups have reached accommodations 
with the SLORC in recent years and the others pose little 
threat to major population centers.

Burma is primarily an agricultural country, although it also 
has substantial mineral, fishing, and timber resources.  Since 
1988, the Government has slowly opened up the economy to permit 
expansion of the private sector, and to attract foreign 
investment.  Some economic improvement has ensued, but major 
obstacles to economic reform persist.  These include 
restrictions on private commerce; constantly changing rules and 
regulations; overcentralized decisionmaking; a bloated 
bureaucracy; a greatly overvalued currency; poor 
infrastructure; and grossly disproportionate military spending.

Despite an appearance of greater normalcy fostered by increased 
economic activity, in fact the Government's unacceptable record 
on human rights changed little in 1994.  Out of sight of most 
visitors, Burmese citizens continued to live subject at any 
time and without appeal to the arbitrary and sometimes brutal 
dictates of the military.  There continued to be credible 
reports, particularly from ethnic minority-dominated areas, 
that soldiers committed serious human rights abuses, including 
extrajudicial killings and rape.  The use of porters by the 
army--with all the attendant maltreatment, illness, and even 
death for those compelled to serve--remained a standard 
practice and probably even increased.  The Burmese military 
forced hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of ordinary 
Burmese (including women and children) to "contribute" their 
labor, often under harsh working conditions, to construction 
projects throughout the country.  The forced resettlement of 
civilians also continued.

Four hundred or more political prisoners remained in detention, 
including approximately 40 parliamentarians elected in 1990.  
Although she has yet to be charged with any crime, Nobel 
Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi began her sixth year of house arrest 
in July.  In extending her arrest, the SLORC circumvented its 
own amended statute limiting house arrest to 5 years and 
ignored repeated U.N. General Assembly and U.N. Human Rights 
Commission resolutions calling for her release and that of all 
other prisoners of conscience.

The SLORC continued to restrict severely basic rights to free 
speech, association, and assembly.  In July and August the 
authorities arrested five persons for trying to smuggle out 
information on conditions in Burma to the outside world.  
Through use of pressure and outright threats, the Government 
gathered 4 million Burmese at political rallies in January to 
endorse its political agenda.  The authorities continued to 
control discussion at the national convention.

More than 100,000 Rohingyas (Burmese Muslims from Arakan State) 
remained in refugee camps in Bangladesh, pending repatriation 
under an ongoing program overseen by the U.N. High Commissioner 
for Refugees (UNHCR).  A few thousand students and dissidents 
continued in exile in Thailand, while at year's end roughly 
70,000 Burmese were residing in ethnic minority camps near the 
border in Thailand.

Several positive developments occurred, including the February 
decision to allow a nonfamily member to visit Aung San Suu 
Kyi.  Also, after years of refusing to acknowledge her status 
as the leader of Burma's prodemocracy forces, in September 
SLORC Chairman Than Shwe and DDSI Chief Khin Nyunt met with 
Aung San Suu Kyi for the first time since she was placed under 
house arrest.

An unknown number of political prisoners was released, 
including prominent political satirist Zargana, although the 
number of public announcements of such releases declined 
compared to 1993.  By midyear, the Government agreed to study a 
draft Memorandum of Understanding to govern visits by the 
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to Burmese 
prisons.  The Government permitted the UNHCR to open an office 
in Rangoon and to work in the Rohingya refugee processing 
area.  A limited number of international nongovernmental 
organizations (NGO's) were allowed to set up operations or 
expand existing ones.

Despite these positive moves, there was by year's end no clear 
sign that the SLORC was yet ready to take the kind of decisive 
action needed to break with its past, reach a political 
settlement with the country's democratic forces, and restore 
the basic human and political rights once enjoyed by the people 
of Burma.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

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

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There was no evidence of an explicit or systematic government 
policy encouraging summary killings.  However, there continued 
to be credible reports of instances of brutality and killings 
of civilians by the military, particularly in 
minority-dominated areas and among those impressed as porters.  
The Government did not take any action against military 
personnel responsible for extrajudicial killings or other 
abuses.  The Government did not carry out the death sentences 
imposed after a summary trial of four civilians charged with 
killing a student in Rangoon in January.

     b.  Disappearance

As in previous years, private citizens and political activists 
continued to "disappear" temporarily for several hours to 
several days.  DDSI officials usually picked up individuals for 
questioning without the knowledge of their family members, and 
in most cases released them soon afterward.  However, many 
people continued to be conscripted by the military for 
porterage or other duties without the knowledge of their family 
members.  The whereabouts of those conscripted, as well as of 
prisoners transferred for labor or porterage duties, remained 
difficult to trace (see Sections 1.g. and 6.c.).

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

Again in 1994, political detainees were held incommunicado for 
long periods.  These detainees were routinely subjected to 
harsh interrogation techniques designed to intimidate and 
disorient.  The most common forms of maltreatment were sleep 
and food deprivation coupled with round-the-clock questioning.  
There were also reliable indications that authorities sometimes 
physically abused prisoners and pretrial detainees.  In recent 
years, there have been credible reports of beatings and of 
prisoners being forced to squat or assume unnatural positions 
for lengthy periods.  In the past, there have also been reports 
of practices such as electrical shocks to the genitals, 
suffocation, and cigarette burns, but there were no known 
instances of these techniques being employed in 1994.

The regimen at Insein prison near Rangoon remained unacceptably 
harsh, including permanent solitary confinement for 250 of the 
approximately 4,000 inmates, little or no exercise, no reading 
or writing materials for all but a tiny minority of prisoners, 
poor nutrition, and inadequate medical care.  A few prominent 
political prisoners, such as former National League for 
Democracy (NLD) Chairmen Tin Oo and Kyi Maung, continued to be 
provided limited reading material and bungalow accommodations.  
Most prisoners were permitted to receive medicine as well as 
supplemental food brought by their families during the 
15-minute visits permitted every 2 weeks.  Conditions were 
reliably reported to be much worse at some upcountry locations, 
particularly Thayet and Thayawaddy prisons, to which scores of 
Insein's political prisoners were transferred in June.

In February U.S. Congressman Bill Richardson was able to meet 
with Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and four other political 
prisoners, writer Ma Thida, former NLD central committee member 
Win Tin, former Aung San Suu Kyi administrative aide Win Htein, 
and former student leader Min Ko Naing.  The health of Min Ko 
Naing, whom the Congressman had met the previous year at Insein 
prison, appeared to have improved somewhat but he continued to 
show signs of mental and physical suffering from his 5 years of 
solitary confinement.

The Government continued to bar the ICRC from visiting 
detainees or convicted prisoners of any kind, but its 
discussions with the Government concerning such access 
intensified.

Beyond its harsh treatment of prison inmates there continued to 
be credible reports that security forces subjected ordinary 
citizens to harassment and physical abuse.  The military 
routinely seized villages to confiscate property and food, and 
used abusive recruitment methods to procure porters.  Those 
forced into porterage or other duties faced extremely difficult 
conditions and maltreatment that sometimes resulted in death 
(see Section 1.g.).

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The SLORC routinely practiced arbitrary arrest and 
incommunicado detention.  Prior to being charged, detainees do 
not have access to legal counsel or their families.  There is 
no provision in Burmese law for judicial determination of the 
legality of detention, and political detainees have no 
opportunity to obtain release on bail.

Because of the high level of intimidation discouraging overt 
political activity, detentions for public antigovernment 
activities were less frequent in 1994 than in the early 
1990's.  Nonetheless, in the course of the year scores of 
political activists were detained for low-level political 
protests, such as handing out opposition flyers or attempting 
to organize demonstrations.  Such detentions often coincided 
with various political anniversaries.  For example, in July a 
group of high school students was detained in Rangoon for 
participating in protest activities to mark the anniversary of 
Ne Win's destruction of the Rangoon University Student Union 
building.  Most of these cases ended with eventual release of 
the detainees.

However, in July Khin Zaw Win, a former local contract employee 
of the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF), was detained at Rangoon 
airport, questioned secretly, and charged in late August with 
trying to smuggle antigovernment materials and confidential 
government information out of the country.  As a result of Khin 
Zaw Win's arrest, four others, including the writer San San Nwe 
and her daughter Myat Mo Mo Tun, together with two NLD winners 
in the 1990 election, Khin Maung Swe and Sein Hla Oo, were also 
picked up and accused of abetting the effort to get information 
on Burma to the outside world, including to the U.N. Human 
Rights Commission's Special Rapporteur on Burma, Professor Yozo 
Yokota.  All five were found guilty in October and received 
sentences ranging from 7 to 15 years for "spreading false 
information injurious to the State" and other minor offenses.

In January the military informed former NLD General Secretary 
and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi that her house arrest 
had been extended for another year.  This was done despite the 
fact that in 1994 she reached the 5-year legal limit of 
detention without charge or trial.  In February the authorities 
announced, apparently for the first time, that the initial year 
of the former NLD leader's house arrest had been pursuant to a 
decision of the previously unknown "Central Body" and that the 
5-year clock began to run only after that time.

Streetside guard posts were removed from in front of Aung San 
Suu Kyi's house in January, but the conditions of her detention 
did not change.  She continued to receive visits from her 
immediate family.  In mid-February the authorities also 
permitted U.S. Congressman Bill Richardson, along with an 
official from the United Nations and a New York Times reporter, 
to meet with the former NLD leader, the first such visit by 
outsiders other than family members since her house arrest 
began.  In August a Buddhist monk resident in the United 
Kingdom was likewise permitted to see Aung San Suu Kyi prior to 
the SLORC's meeting with her in September.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Throughout 1994 the Government continued to rule by decree and 
was not bound by any constitutional provisions guaranteeing 
fair public trials or any other rights.  Although remnants of 
the British-era legal system were formally in place, the court 
system and its operation remained seriously flawed.  Many 
observers believe there has been an improvement in judicial 
procedures, at least in the handling of nonpolitical cases.  
But ongoing unprofessional behavior by some court officials, 
pervasive bribe taking, the misuse of overly broad laws, and 
the manipulation of the courts for political ends continued to 
deprive the country of the right to a fair trial and the rule 
of law.  The judiciary is not independent of the executive.

Some basic due process rights, including the right to a public 
trial and to be represented by a defense attorney, were 
generally respected.  However, the Supreme Court appoints 
judges with the approval of the SLORC (which also names 
justices to the Supreme Court).

Defense attorneys are permitted to call and cross-examine 
witnesses, but their primary purpose is to bargain with the 
judge to obtain the shortest possible sentence for their 
clients.  Most court proceedings are open to the public.  
However, in political cases, almost all trials are held in 
courtrooms on prison compounds and are not open to the public.  
In these instances, defense counsel appears to serve no purpose 
other than to provide moral support, since reliable reports 
indicate verdicts are dictated by higher authorities.  In an 
effort to head off student unrest, in January the authorities 
apprehended, charged, tried, and sentenced to death four 
persons accused of involvement in the murder of a student from 
the Rangoon Institute of Economics--all within the space of 2 
days.  The sentences, however, appear not to have been carried 
out.

The Government continued to release political prisoners in 1994 
although the exact numbers could not be verified.  
Approximately 400 political prisoners remained in jail at 
year's end, including at least 40 parliamentarians elected in 
1990.  Both prominent political satirist Zargana and M.P.-elect 
Nai Tun Thein were freed during the year.

Political prisoners were held not only in Rangoon's Insein 
prison but also in some of the country's more than 20 upcountry 
prisons.  For example, the monk who led the 1990 movement to 
withhold spiritual services from the military, Ye Wa Da, 
reportedly remained in Mandalay prison, while two other 
prominent monks, Da Ma Wa Ya and Wi Thu Ta, were believed to 
still be in custody in Myitkyina.  Among the many well-known 
prisoners of conscience who continued to be held either at 
Insein or elsewhere were former NLD leaders Tin Oo and Kyi 
Maung, former National Convention delegate Dr. Aung Khin Sint, 
the writer Ma Thi Da, and lawyer U Nay Min, who was reportedly 
transferred in the course of the year from Insein to the 
infamous Thayet prison.

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

The military rules unchecked by any outside authority and the 
State continued to interfere extensively and arbitrarily into 
the lives of private citizens.  Through its extensive 
intelligence network, the Government closely monitored the 
travel, whereabouts, and activities of many citizens, 
particularly those known to be politically active.  Security 
personnel selectively screened private correspondence and 
telephone calls and conducted warrantless searches of private 
premises.  Government employees were required to obtain advance 
permission before meeting with foreigners.

The SLORC continued to move people out of cities to peripheral 
new town settlements throughout the country, albeit on a 
smaller scale than in past years.  While facilities in some of 
these areas have improved over time, residents targeted for 
displacement continued to be given no option but to move, 
usually on short notice.  The military also continued to 
forcibly relocate villages in rural areas, especially those 
with large ethnic minority populations.

Also, those able to remain in established cities and towns were 
subject to arbitrary seizure of their property.  Many residents 
of Mandalay were compelled early in the year to cede large 
parcels of prime downtown real estate to the authorities for 
road-widening projects decided upon without any public 
consultation or endorsement.  Widespread reports indicate the 
Mandalay city government threatened to charge demolition costs 
to those in affected areas who wavered in tearing down their 
own homes.  Beyond these seizures for public purposes there 
were consistent reports of pressure being applied to force 
individuals to cede parts of their property to government or 
military officials, in some cases for these officials' personal 
use.  Automobiles and other movable property also remained 
vulnerable to arbitrary seizure.  In rural areas, military 
personnel confiscated livestock and food supplies during 
periodic sweeps to procure porters.

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

For more than 4 decades the Burmese Army has battled diverse 
ethnic insurgencies.  These ethnic minority insurgent groups 
have sought to gain greater autonomy from the dominant ethnic 
Burman majority.  For most of the year the SLORC continued to 
pursue efforts to engage insurgent groups in cease-fire talks 
and refrained from launching major military offensives.  
However, in late December, fighting between the Burmese Army 
and the Karen National Union (KNU) and the All Burma Students' 
Democratic Front (ABSDF) broke out when Burmese forces sought 
to take advantage of an internal dispute among the Karen.  In 
general, combat and attendant human rights abuses remained at a 
persistent but low level in areas controlled by those ethnic 
insurgent groups.

In November the Government allowed the ICRC to conduct a course 
in Rangoon on humanitarian law during armed conflict.

In conjunction with the military's campaign against drug 
trafficker Khun Sa and his Shan United Army, as many as several 
thousand civilians were press-ganged into working as porters in 
jungle areas in or near combat zones.  According to reliable 
reports, Burmese military sweeps for porters reached such urban 
areas as Rangoon, Mandalay, and Moulmein.  Military authorities 
commonly demanded as much as $230 (10 times the minimum monthly 
wage) to avoid service.  It was also credibly reported that 
some members of the military used sham threats of impressment 
to extort money.  There were numerous credible reports that 
soldiers abused porters; when wounded, ill, or unable to work, 
they were sometimes left unattended in harsh conditions to 
die.  There were also continuing reports of rape, particularly 
of ethnic minority women by soldiers.

Antigovernment insurgent groups were also responsible for 
violence, causing both civilian and military deaths.  There 
were also credible reports that members of these groups 
committed serious human rights violations.  The 
narcotics-trafficking Shan United Army is reported to have 
brutalized villagers and impressed porters in the course of 
fighting against the Burmese army and to have extorted 
protection fees from local merchants.  In early May, insurgents 
from the Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO) detonated a 
series of bombs in towns and villages near the western border 
of Arakan State resulting in several deaths and injuries.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

Severe restrictions on freedom of speech and the press 
persisted throughout 1994.  The security services continued to 
clamp down on those who expressed opposition political views or 
attempted to provide outsiders with information at variance 
with the government-approved image of the country (see Section 
1.d.).  Many more have refrained from speaking out for fear of 
arrest and interrogation by police or military intelligence.

The Government-monopoly television, radio, and newspaper media 
remained propaganda instruments.  With the exception of 
coverage of some limited aspects of the national convention, 
these official media did not report opposing views.  Editors 
remained answerable to military authorities.  While the 
English-language daily New Light of Myanmar continued to 
include many international wire service reports on foreign 
news, domestic news hewed strictly to and reinforced government 
policy.

Practically all forms of media were officially controlled and 
censored.  This strict control in turn encouraged 
self-censorship on the part of writers and publishers.  Private 
citizens were generally unable to subscribe directly to foreign 
publications.  Some international newsmagazines and a sizable 
number of new private publications on nonpolitical issues were 
available to the public at large, but censors occasionally 
banned issues or deleted articles deemed unwelcome by the 
Government.

Foreign journalists, including television crews, were granted 
increased access to the country, but their movements and 
contacts were closely monitored.  Despite government hostility 
to them, foreign radio broadcasts such as those of the British 
Broadcasting Corporation, Voice of America, and Democratic 
Voice of Norway remained prime sources of uncensored 
information.  The Government also allowed the U.S. Information 
Service to conduct a wide range of programs.  Foreign 
television remained in limbo.  After its imposed September 1993 
registration deadline for satellite dishes, the Government 
failed to approve additional licenses or clarify who in the 
future would be allowed to have foreign television.  Late in 
the year, the Government cracked down on video rental shops in 
Rangoon, forcing the withdrawal from circulation of most 
foreign language videos.

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, or meeting foreign officials.  Teachers continued to 
be held responsible for maintaining discipline among their 
students and preventing them from engaging in any unauthorized 
political activity.

The universities, closed for several years after the 1988 
disturbances, were open for most of 1994.  However, the 
university midyear break was extended until August 18, 
presumably to lessen the chance of unwanted student activities 
in conjunction with various sensitive political anniversaries 
falling in July and early August.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Government does not respect these rights.  In January the 
Government organized a series of 26 stage-managed mass rallies 
throughout the country which were attended by approximately
4 million people.  The meetings of this government-initiated 
group, the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), 
were orchestrated by government authorities as a mass 
demonstration of support for the SLORC's political objectives.  
With few exceptions, attendance was coerced, with explicit 
threats of penalties to those who contemplated staying away.  
Multiple reports indicate that at one rally in Pyay, a few 
people were trampled to death when attendees ran from rally 
monitors attempting to seize those in the crowd who had called 
out dissenting views.

For others, the Government prohibition on unauthorized outdoor 
assemblies of more than five people remained in effect, albeit 
unevenly enforced.  Political demonstrations were strictly 
banned, but even religious groups sometimes encountered 
problems holding outdoor gatherings.  Legal political parties 
were required to request permission from the authorities even 
to hold internal meetings of their own membership.

The right of association existed only for organizations, 
including trade associations and professional bodies, permitted 
by law and duly registered with the Government.  Only a handful 
continued to exist, and even those were subject to direct 
government intervention or took special care to act in line 
with government policy.  This included such benign groups as 
the Myanmar Red Cross and the Myanmar Medical Association.  
Only 10 political parties, out of an original 75 in 1992, 
remained legal at the end of 1994, but even the few which 
remained legal were virtually immobilized.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Adherents of all religions duly registered with the authorities 
generally enjoyed freedom to worship as they chose, although 
Buddhists continued to enjoy a privileged position.  In recent 
years, the Government has made special efforts to link itself 
with Buddhism as a means of asserting its own popular 
legitimacy.  For example, during the year the military 
contributed an elaborate prayer hall, which was dedicated at 
the foot of the revered Shwedagon pagoda in Rangoon.  This 
campaign has led to increased government support for Buddhism 
in keeping with the Government's strong nationalistic views.

The Government monitors the activities of members of all 
religions in part because they have in the past become 
politically active.  Security services demanded that religious 
groups seek prior authorization to conduct services out of 
doors.  These regulations were also in effect in and around 
Buddhist monasteries and pagodas.  The SLORC has been largely 
successful in halting political activism among the Buddhist 
clergy, and by year's end, many, though not all, monks arrested 
earlier had been released and most quietly resumed their 
religious duties.

Religious publications, like secular ones, remained subject to 
control and censorship.  Christian Bibles translated into 
indigenous languages could not be imported.

Religious groups were able to establish links with 
coreligionists in other countries, although these activities 
were reportedly monitored by the Government.  Foreign religious 
representatives were usually only allowed visas for short 
stays, but in some cases were permitted to preach to Burmese 
congregations.  Permanent foreign missionary establishments 
have not been permitted since the 1960's, but a few foreign 
Catholic nuns, and at least one priest resident in Burma since 
independence, continued to reside upcountry.

It has proven extremely difficult for Christian and Muslim 
groups to obtain permission to build new churches and mosques.  
For example, although there are more than 5,000 mosques in 
Burma, the newest reportedly dates to 1975.  There were 
isolated incidents in which the Government destroyed places of 
worship as a result of infrastructure projects.  Also, the 
Government continued to remove cemeteries from urban areas, 
even though many non-Buddhist religions consider these to be 
sacred ground.  In March four trustees of a Muslim cemetery in 
Mandalay were taken into custody in the course of protests by 
Muslims over destruction of an historic graveyard and religious 
buildings.

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

Although citizens have the legal right to live anywhere in the 
country, both urban and rural residents were subject to 
arbitrary relocation (see Section 1.f.).  Except for 
limitations in areas of insurgent activity, citizens could 
travel freely within the country but must notify local 
authorities of their whereabouts.  Those residents unable to 
meet the restrictive provisions of the citizenship law, (e.g. 
Chinese, Arakanese Muslims, etc.) had to obtain prior 
permission to travel.

Though travel strictures continued to ease, the Government 
maintained tight controls over travel abroad.  The Government 
board that reviewed passport applications denied passports in 
some cases apparently on political grounds.  Emigrants were 
required to reimburse the Government for "educational expenses" 
before receiving exit permits 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 usually had little difficulty 
obtaining permission to do so.  Some who had lived abroad 
illegally and acquired foreign citizenship found it easier to 
return.  In most instances it was impossible for Christian 
groups to obtain permission for their would-be clergy to travel 
abroad to pursue religious studies.

The Government continued to ease restrictions on foreign 
travelers.  However, select categories 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.  Although large areas of the country 
remained off-limits to foreigners for sercurity reasons, the 
authorities did open up a number of new domestic destinations.  
Except during clashes with the Shan United Army, foreigners 
continued to be able to travel from northern Thailand into 
Tachilek and Kentung in easternmost Shan state.

The pace of the repatriation of Muslims from Bangladesh 
accelerated.  By year's end more than 130,000 of those who fled 
the country had returned.  The UNHCR indicated cooperation with 
the authorities had been good and that it had not detected any 
signs of renewed action against the Rohingyas.

The Government does not allow refugees or displaced persons to 
resettle or seek safe haven.

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

Despite the overwhelming desire the Burmese people demonstrated 
in the 1990 elections for a return to democracy, they continued 
to be denied the right to change their government.  Since 1988 
active duty military officers have occupied an increasing 
number of important positions throughout the bureaucracy, 
particularly at the policymaking level.  Despite the 
appointment of several civilians to the Cabinet in 1992, the 
process of placing military or recently retired military 
officers in most key senior level positions once held by 
technocrats in the economic ministries has accelerated.

Following the NLD's victory in the 1990 elections, the SLORC 
set aside the election results and disqualified, detained, 
arrested, or drove into exile many successful candidates.  By 
the end of the year, 198 of the 485 deputies elected had either 
been disqualified, resigned under pressure, gone into exile, 
been detained, or died.  Approximately 40 successful candidates 
from the election remain in prison.

Rather than accept the will of the citizenry, the SLORC 
convened a National Convention in January 1993 to draw up 
principles for a new Constitution.  The SLORC handpicked 
delegates, and proceedings have been carefully stage-managed; 
even limited opposition views have been ignored.  Despite 
having no mandate from the people, the SLORC tasked the 
Convention with drafting a new constitution that will guarantee 
a dominant role for the military in the country's future 
political structure.  Although the SLORC leadership met with 
detained prodemocracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on two occasions, 
at year's end it remained unclear whether the Military 
Government is prepared to begin a genuine dialog with its 
opponents to achieve a peaceful political settlement.

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

The Government does not allow internal human rights 
organizations to exist, and it remained generally hostile to 
outside scrutiny of its human rights record (see Section 1.d. 
and 2.d.).  However, in July Burmese Foreign Minister Ohn Gyaw 
agreed in principle to hold consultations with the U.N. 
Secretary General regarding the human rights situation.  
Subsequently, Foreign Minister Ohn Gyaw met with U.N. 
Undersecretary for Political Affairs Marrack Goulding during 
the U.N. General Assembly and in Rangoon in November with 
Rafeeudin Ahmed, Deputy Head of the United Nations Development 
Program.  At year's end both sides had agreed to continue their 
discussions.

In keeping with his mandate, in November the Government allowed 
U.N. Special Rapporteur Yozo Yokota to travel to Burma.  
However, in its written response to the Rapporteur's interim 
report, the Government denied allegations of extrajudicial 
killings, torture, and rape, and indicated that instances of 
arbitrary arrest and detention and forced labor were undertaken 
in "accordance with the law."

NGO representatives previously denied visas were able to travel 
to remote areas of the country and several others began 
negotiations with the Government to establish humanitarian 
programs.  In May ICRC representatives met with top government 
officials, and the SLORC agreed to accept a draft memorandum of 
understanding regarding prison visits.

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

     Women

In general, women in Burma 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, women remained 
underrepresented in most traditional male occupations, and a 
few professions continued to be entirely barred to women.

Women did not consistently receive equal pay for equal work.  
There are no women's rights organizations in Burma or any 
government agencies specifically devoted to safeguarding 
women's interests.

There were reliable reports that many women and children in 
border areas, where the Government's control is limited, were 
forced or lured into working as prostitutes in Thailand.  It is 
unknown how many young women have been duped into working as 
prostitutes, but a common practice is to lure young women to 
Thailand with promises of employment as a waitress or domestic 
(See Thailand Report.).  Also, the Burmese military continued 
to impress women for military porterage duties, and there was a 
steady pattern of reports of rape of ethnic minority women by 
Burmese soldiers.

     Children

Despite the establishment of various child welfare programs, 
the Government allocated few resources for programs relevant to 
children, and cut the share of the national budget for 
education to 16 percent, with a mere 0.4 percent allocated to 
social welfare services (versus almost 38 percent for the 
military).

Many families allowed their young daughters to travel to 
Thailand to work as prostitutes.  The rising incidence of Human 
Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection has increased demand for 
younger prostitutes.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Burma's myriad ethnic minorities have long resented the 
dominance of the country's Burman majority.  The minorities 
have been underrepresented in the Government and largely 
excluded from the military leadership.  Over the last few years 
and continuing in 1994, the SLORC, in the name of national 
solidarity, has sought to pacify these ethnic groups by means 
of negotiated cease-fires, grants of limited autonomy, and 
promises of development assistance.  The Government included a 
large number of ethnic minority representatives in the National 
Convention and permitted extended debate on the issue of 
minority autonomy.  However, the ethnic minority populations 
complain that their concerns have not been addressed adequately 
by the Government.

Government investment in the border areas in road, hospital, 
and school construction has been modest at best and economic 
development among minorities has continued to lag, leaving many 
living at barely subsistence levels.  Since the focus of the 
hostilities against armed insurgencies has been in the border 
areas where most minorities are concentrated, those populations 
have been disproportionately victimized by the general 
brutalization associated with the military's activities.

Since only people who can prove long familial links to Burma 
are accorded full citizenship, ethnic populations, such as 
Muslims, Indians, and Chinese, continued to be denied full 
citizenship and to be excluded from government positions.  
People without full citizenship are not free to travel 
domestically and are barred from certain advanced university 
programs in medicine and technological fields (see Section 
2.d.).  Anti-Chinese sentiment continued to increase.

     People with Disabilities

Official assistance to persons with disabilities is extremely 
limited.  There is no law mandating accessibility to government 
facilities.  While there are several small-scale organizations 
to assist the disabled, most must rely on traditional family 
structures to provide for their welfare.  Since 1986 Burmese 
authorities have permitted representatives of the ICRC to 
upgrade provision of orthopedic prostheses.  Because of 
landmines and train accidents, Burma has one of the highest 
rates of amputee injuries in the world.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

There continued to be no functioning trade unions.  Workers 
were not free to form such groups, and leaders of unofficial 
labor associations remained subject to arrest.  Workers 
continued to be unable to strike, and there were no reported 
instances 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.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Workers do not have the right to organize and bargain 
collectively to set wages and benefits.  The Government's 
Central Arbitration Board, which theoretically provides a means 
for settling major labor disputes, continued to exist on paper 
but in practice was dormant.  Township-level labor supervisory 
committees remained in place to address various low-level labor 
concerns.

The Government unilaterally sets wages in the public sector.  
In the private sector, wages are set by market forces.  The 
Government pressures joint ventures not to pay salaries greater 
than those of ministers or other high-level employees.  Joint 
ventures circumvent this with 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 example of joint ventures in 
awarding supplemental wages and benefits.

No special export processing zones exist.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law does not contain provisions prohibiting forced labor.  
As the military stepped up its program of road, rail, dam, and 
other infrastructure projects, its recourse to forced labor 
also increased.  It was conservatively estimated that many 
hundreds of thousands--if not more--of ordinary citizens were 
compelled to contribute labor to these public works, 
undertakings unsanctioned by any democratically elected 
authority.  Two very large projects using forced labor drew 
international attention.  From April to July, almost the entire 
adult population of Mandalay city was forced, along with 
thousands from outlying areas, to contribute labor or money to 
rehabilitate the moat around the Mandalay palace compound in 
preparation for the "Visit Myanmar Year."  In southern Burma, 
tens of thousands of villagers were dragooned into clearing 
terrain and building embankments in harsh conditions along the 
route of the new Ye-Tavoy railway.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

Although the law sets a minimum age for the employment of 
children, in practice the law is not enforced.  Working 
children are highly visible in cities, mostly working for small 
or family enterprises.  Children are hired at lower pay rates 
than adults for the same kind of work, and economic pressure 
forces them to work not only for their survival but also to 
support their families.  Arts and crafts is the only sector 
producing for the export market which employs a significant 
number of children.  Despite a compulsory education law, almost 
40 percent of children never enroll in school, and only a 
quarter complete the basic education course.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

Surplus labor conditions and lack of protection by government 
authorities continue to dictate substandard conditions for 
workers, despite recent annual economic growth of at least 5 
percent.  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.  The law also allows for a 24-hour rest period per week 
and workers have 21 paid holidays a year.  Such provisions 
actually affect only a small portion of the country's labor 
force.

Only government employees and employees of a few traditional 
industries are covered by minimum wage provisions.  The minimum 
monthly wage for public employees (based on the market exchange 
rate) is $6.00 (600 kyat), but this sum is supplemented by 
various subsidies and allowances.  The general daily minimum 
wage is $0.20 (20 kyats).  These wage rates apply to the lowest 
level of government workers and some manual laborers; workers 
in the private sector are much better paid.  The actual average 
wage rate for casual laborers in Rangoon rose slightly in 1994 
to about three times the official minimum, still well below 
subsistence levels.  Wage increases continued to lag far behind 
inflation.

Numerous health and safety regulations exist on the books, but 
in practice the Government has not made the necessary resources 
available to those charged with their enforcement.  By 1994 an 
International Labor Organization-supported training program for 
members of factory safety committees had reached about 400 
persons, out of an estimated 2.43 million workers employed in 
registered and unregistered enterprises.
(###)

[end of document]

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