United Nations

A/51/660


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

8 November 1996

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


                                                        A/51/660
                                                              

General Assembly
Fifty-first session
Agenda item 110 (c)


         HUMAN RIGHTS QUESTIONS:  HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATIONS AND REPORTS
                  OF SPECIAL RAPPORTEURS AND REPRESENTATIVES

                     Situation of human rights in Myanmar

                        Report of the Secretary-General


1.   The present report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 19 of
General Assembly resolution 50/194 of 22 December 1995, entitled
"Situation of human rights in Myanmar", in which the Assembly
requested me to continue my discussions with the Government of Myanmar
in order to assist in its efforts for national reconciliation and in
the implementation of that resolution, and to report to the Assembly
at its fifty-first session and to the Commission on Human Rights at
its fifty-second session.

2.   As I have indicated in previous reports (see A/49/716 and
A/50/782) I consider the role entrusted to me by the General Assembly
to be one of good offices, as distinct from the fact-finding mandate
assigned by the Human Rights Commission to the Special Rapporteur. 

3.   Since the adoption of resolution 50/194, my representatives have
held three rounds of talks in New York and at Bangkok with the
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, U Ohn Gyaw.  Members may be
aware from my report to the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/1996/65
of 5 February 1996) that in February 1996 I approached the Permanent
Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations with the proposal that
my Representative, Mr. Alvaro de Soto, Assistant Secretary-General for
Political Affairs, visit Yangon for a new round of talks in advance of
the fifty-second session of the Commission.  The Government of Myanmar
responded that, owing to the leadership's tight schedule, it would not
be able to receive my Representative until after the month of August. 
After further consultations, it was agreed that a meeting would be
held instead at United Nations Headquarters in New York between the
Foreign Minister of Myanmar and my Representative on 4 April 1996.

4.   Following the developments at the end of May 1996 in connection
with a meeting organized by the National League for Democracy (NLD) to
commemorate the sixth anniversary of the party's victory in the 1990
elections and the subsequent detention of a large number of NLD
members invited to participate at that event, I suggested that Mr.
Francesc Vendrell, the Director of the East Asia and the Pacific
Division of the Department of Political Affairs, who was in South-East
Asia at the time, visit Myanmar in order to enable me to receive a
first-hand account of the situation.  The Government replied proposing
instead a meeting in Bangkok with the Minister for Foreign Affairs who
was on a tour of some South-East Asian countries at the time.  The
meeting took place in Bangkok on 15 June 1996.    

5.   On 6 August I wrote a letter to Senior General Than Shwe, Chairman
of the State Law and Order Restoration Council and Prime Minister of
the Union of Myanmar, in which I underscored the importance, for the
adequate discharge of my mandate, of visits to Myanmar by my
representatives in order to meet with the authorities and other
relevant political personalities in the country and proposed that
Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Alvaro de Soto visit
Myanmar in early September.  Foreign Minister U Ohn Gyaw, in New York
for the current session of the General Assembly, conveyed to the
Assistant Secretary-General an oral message from Lieutenant-General
Khin Nyunt, Secretary-1 of the State Law and Order Restoration
Council, reiterating his Government's wish to continue the dialogue
with me but expressing the view that such a dialogue need not be held
inside Myanmar but could equally well take place outside.  During his
meeting with my Representative, the Foreign Minister pointed out that
his Government was ready to receive visits by my representatives, but
that it could not agree to private meetings with all the personalities
I regarded essential for the discharge of my mandate.

6.   In the weeks following, further discussions have been held with a
view to enabling my Representative to visit Myanmar prior to the
submission of the present report.  Unfortunately it has not yet been
possible to reach agreement on modalities that would be in conformity
with the mandate entrusted to me by the General Assembly.

7.   Apart from visits by my representatives to Myanmar and the
evolution of the situation in the country, the discussions with the
Minister for Foreign Affairs have centred on the basic issues on which
the General Assembly has repeatedly expressed concern, in particular
the composition, procedures and functioning of the National
Convention; the withdrawal and subsequent expulsion from the
Convention of NLD; the opening of a dialogue between the State Law and
Order Restoration Council on the one hand and the principal political
leaders, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as representatives of
the national races and ethnic groups, on the other; restrictions on
political freedoms, including the proclamation of Law No. 5/96 of 7
June 1996; the situation of political prisoners and detainees, as well
as prison conditions, reports of forced labour and porterage; and
reports of military actions against certain ethnic groups, including
the Karens and the Karennis, resulting in further internal
displacements and refugee outflows.

8.   The Foreign Minister for his part conveyed information about the
progress achieved by the National Convention in the drafting of
constitutional guidelines through the adoption of the chapters dealing
with the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.  The Convention
had so far adopted 15 "chapter headings" and 104 "fundamental
principles" that would form the basis of the new Constitution.  At its
resumed session it would discuss issues of power-sharing between the
central Government and the component states and divisions.  It would
be up to the Convention to determine eventually how the Constitution
should be finally drafted and approved.

9.   The Foreign Minister discarded the possibility of effecting
changes in the composition and functioning of the National Convention
on the grounds that it was fully representative of the various strata
of the population of Myanmar and that it was the only "disciplined"
forum capable of delivering a strong Constitution.  The decision taken
by NLD at the urging of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, on 28 November 1995, to
suspend its participation in the National Convention on the grounds
that the Convention was not truly representative and the views of NLD
were not taken into account, had led to the automatic expulsion of its
members under the rules laid down in the Convention's procedures.  Had
NLD remained in the Convention it would have had the opportunity of
making its views known as it had done in the past.  A dialogue with
the NLD leadership, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, was not possible
outside the framework of the National Convention, which was the forum
for such a dialogue.

10.  The Government considered that Myanmar's priority was "national
reconsolidation" and the eradication of national insurgencies.  The
insurgencies would lay down their arms once the Constitution was
adopted and they would only do so with a disciplined Government, and
not with a civilian Government.  Military rule was thus necessary
until the Constitution was firmly established.  Thereafter, the
military did not intend to form a political party, but would continue
to take part in the political life of the nation.  

11.  The Foreign Minister stated that the Government was not supporting
the Democratic Kayin Buddhist Army against the Karen National Union
(KNU) as had been alleged.  The Government and KNU had met on three
occasions in government-controlled territory, and it was a matter of
time before KNU returned to the legal fold.  As for the Karenni
National Progressive Party (KNPP), it had come back to the legal fold
as a result of the Government's persuasion, and not under a ceasefire
agreement.  KNPP was now claiming sole control of the area concerned
and was declaring that the government side had broken a ceasefire
agreement that had never been signed.

12.  Regarding political prisoners, the Foreign Minister stated that
his Government made no distinctions between political and common
prisoners.  People whose behaviour was not in line with the law were
punished.  Though Myanmar had to adhere to its own internal laws and
regulations, it had not closed its door to a possible agreement with
the International Committee of the Red Cross.
     
13.  While I am appreciative of the expressed readiness of the
Government of Myanmar to pursue a dialogue with me on matters of
concern to the international community, I cannot hide my
disappointment that it has not been possible, since the adoption of
General Assembly resolution 50/194 a year ago, for my representatives
to visit Myanmar.  It is my considered view that, for the adequate
discharge of my mandate, it is essential for my representatives to
meet with the highest governmental authorities as well as with leaders
of other relevant political forces.  I must also express my regret
that no progress can be reported, since my last report to the General
Assembly, in the areas on which the General Assembly and the Human
Rights Commission have repeatedly expressed their concern.  I am
firmly convinced that the opening of a genuine political dialogue
between the State Law and Order Restoration Council and the leaders of
the political party that won a clear majority in the 1990 elections
and of other relevant political forces, including the national races
and ethnic groups, is essential to achieve the Government's stated
objectives of democratization and national reconciliation and to
assuage the concerns that have been repeatedly expressed in the
General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights about Myanmar.  I
wish to take this opportunity to reiterate my commitment to continue
my efforts towards the achievement of these goals.


                                     ----- 

This document has been posted online by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). Reproduction and dissemination of the document - in electronic and/or printed format - is encouraged, provided acknowledgement is made of the role of the United Nations in making it available.

Date last posted: 28 December 1999 17:35:10
Comments and suggestions: esa@un.org