Supplementary Materials

1994 HRV



for “Human Rights in Burma (1994)”, a report presented to the UNCHR by
the National Coalition Government of the
Union of Burma in Feb 1995.

This edition of “Supplementary Materials 1994 HRV” has been prepared by the Human Rights Documentation Unit (HURIDU) of the NCGUB in Feb 1995 with funding provided by the Norwegian Law Students’ Humanitarian Action and through the generous support and dedication of countless Burma groups.




            Abbreviations and Acronyms, Terms and Measurements

            Burma at a Glance: Facts and Figures

            Ethnic Peoples of Burma

            Headlines in Review: Events of 1994

            Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Burma

            Conditions within Tatmadaw (Burmese Army)

            Facts on Human Rights Violations in Burma Today

                   Extra-judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions

                   Arbitrary Detention and Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances

                   Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

                   Freedom of Belief

                   Freedom of Opinion and Expression

                   Freedom of Assembly and Association

                   Freedom of Movement

                   Abuse of Women

                   Rights of the Child

                   Forced Labour and Slavery

                   Deprivation of Livelihood

                   Protection of Minorities

                   Situation of Refugees

                   Forced Repatriation

                   Internally Displaced Persons

                   Forced Relocation


            Eye-witness Accounts

            Selected SLORC Orders

            List of Resources, Contributors and Recent Publications


...I don’t think we have any human rights problems.

                               Ohn Gyaw,

foreign minister for SLORC,

at the ASEAN meeting one day after

the Tatmadaw attack

on Halockhani refugee camp     




Abbreviations and Acronyms,

Terms and Measurements






acre                       1 acre                   =            4,840 sq. yards                   =            0.407 hectare

                              2.471 acres          =            11,960 sq. yards =            1 hectare

                              640 acres             =            1 sq. mile                            =            2.590 sq. kilometres

baht                      1 baht                   =            100 satang                          =            US$ 0.04

                              25 Baht                 =                                                         =            US$ 1

FEC                        1 FEC                     =            US$ 1 (official)

                              1 FEC                     =            US$ 110-120 (unofficial)

furlong                 1 furlong              =            220 yards (1/8) mile        =            201 metres

Kyat (Ks)              1 Kyat                   =            US$ 0.15 (official)

                              1 Kyat                   =            US$ 0.008 (unofficial)

                              6 Ks                       =            US$ 1 (official)

                              110-120 Ks          =            US$ 1 (unofficial)

lakh                      1 lakh                   =            100,000

tical                      1 tical                   =            0.576 ounces                      =            16.33 g

                              622.22 viss           =            1 long ton (2,240 lbs)        =            1.016 metric tons

tin (rice/milk)    1 tin                      =            approx 250 ml

viss                        1 viss                     =            3.6 lbs                                  =            1.633 kg



A Note about Spelling



Since there are no standardised transcriptions for Burmese, Mon, etc., in the Roman alphabet, words are spelt variously, according to different spelling conventions or usually by how they “sound” (Halockhani refugee camps is a classic example of this, by Westerners as well as Thais and locals). In addition, spellings have further been confused by the ruling junta's official Burmanisation of well-known, historical English spellings (cf. Myanmar). Despite this, and to avoid confusion and politicisation, this report will restrict its usage to the established and more widely-accepted anglicised spellings, since this report has been written in English. A list of various alternative spellings from sources has been provided below.


Ayeyarwady         Irrawaddy

Bagan                   Pagan

Bago                      Pegu

Bamar                   Burman


 Dawngwin          Dawn Gwin

Dawei                   Tavoy

Hinthada              Henzada

Hlockhanee          Halockhani

Hpa-an                 Pa-an

Kayah                   Karenni

Kayin                    Karen

Kyaing Don          Kengtung

Magway               Magwe

Marnaplaw          Manerplaw

Mawlamyine       Moulmein

Muang Tai           Mong Tai

Myeit                    Mergui

Myanmar             Burma

Pathein                 Bassein

Pyay                      Prome

Sittoung                Sittang

Sittwe, Sittway    Akyab

Tanintharyi          Tenasserim

Thandwai             Sandoway

Thanlwin             Salween River

Thaungyin           Moei River

Toungoo               Taungoo

Yangon                 Rangoon





ABSDF    All Burma Students' Democratic Front

ABSL      All Burma Students League

AIG         Kyi Shwe, Anti-Insurgent Group of the SLORC Army (not under any battalion)

aka         also known as

approx   approximately

BAD       Border Area Development programme

Brig        Brigadier

BI            Burma Issues

BIA         Burma Independence Army

BIG         Burma Information Group

BLC        Burma Lawyers' Council

Bn           Bn

BPP         Border Patrol Police (Thailand)

BSPP       Burma Socialist Programme Party

BURMA Burma Rights Movement for Action

CNF        Chin National Front

CNLD     Democratic Organisation for Kayin National Unity

Comdr   Commander

Col         Colonel

Coy         Company

Cpl         Corporal

CPPSM   Campaign for the Publicity of the People's Struggle in Monland

CRDB     Committee for the Restoration of Democracy in Burma

DAB       Democratic Alliance of Burma

DDSI      Directorate of Defence Services Intelligence

DKBA     Democratic Kayin (Karen) Buddhist Association

DPNS     Democratic Party for a New Society

DVB       Democratic Voice of Burma (Oslo & Dawn Gwin studios)

FEC         Foreign Exchange Certificate (officially valued at US$ 1 = 1 FEC; unofficial/black market US$1 = 110-120 FEC)

FTUB      Federation of Trade Unions, Burma

HRV       human rights violations

Ind         Independent

Gen        General

GOSDA  Graduates and Old Students Democratic Association

IB            Infantry Bn

IDC        Immigration Detention Centre (Thailand)

ILO         International Labour Organisation

Lt            Lieutenant

KHRG     Karen Human Rights Group

KIO        Kachin Independence Organisation

KNLA     Karen National Liberation Army (military wing of KNU)

KNPP      Karenni National Progressive Party

KNU       Karen National Union

Ks           Kyats (approx. value: official US$1 = 6 Ks; unofficial US$1 = 110-120 Ks)

KSNCD  The Kachin State National Congress for Democracy

KWO      Karen Women’s Organisation

KYO       Karen Youth Organisation

LIB          Light Infantry Bn

LID         Light Infantry Division

LORC     Law and Order Restoration Council (on the local, regional, etc., levels)

Maj        Major

MIS        Military Intelligence Services (aka DDSI)

MNDF    Mon National Democratic Front

MNLA    Mon National Liberation Army (military wing of NMSP)

MNRC    Mon National Relief Committee

MOA      Mirror of Arakan

MOI       Ministry of Interior (Thailand)

MOU     Memorandum of Understanding

MSC       Military Strategic Command

MSF        Medincins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders)

MTA       Mong Tai Army (led by Khun Sa)

NBC       Norwegian Burma Council

NCGUB  National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma

NCUB    National Council of the Union of Burma

NDPHR  National Democratic Party for Human Rights

NGO      Non-governmental organisation

NLD       National League for Democracy

NLM      The New Light of Myanmar

NMSP    New Mon State Party

NUP       National Unity Party

PND       Party National Democracy

SAIN      Southeast Asia Information Network

Sd.          Signed with signature

Sgt          Sergeant

SLORC   State Law and Order Restoration Council

SNLD     Shan Nationalities League for Democracy

TOC       Tactical Operations Command

USDA     Union Solidarity and Development Association

VDS        Volunteers for Displaced Shans






Baht                      monetary currency of Thailand (see under “Measurements”)

Bar Zi Than          The Song of the Gong (KYO publication)

Black Areas          areas fully under the control of       anti-government forces

Bo                          military commander

Brown Areas        areas partially under the control    of anti-government forces

Daw*                    form of address to an adult              female

furlong                 (see under “Measurements”)

Jaggery                 a hard brown crystallised

(also jackary)      substance boiled down from sugar care juice and used as brown sugar or, mixed with water, as glue.

Kawthoolei           Karen name for the Karen nation

Kaw Thoo Lei       derogatory SLORC reference to       Karen soldiers

Khai                      form of address to a male

Khun                     male of royal descent; form of         address to adult Thai male

Ko                          form of address to a young male

Kyat                      monetary unit of Burma

longyi                   sarong in Burmese language

Ma                        form of address to a female

Mahn                    form of address to a male

Maung                  form of address to a young male

Mehm/Min         form of address to a young male

Mi                         form of address to a female

Movement Paper   the SLORC appoints a village "headman" (not the same as the real headman), usually against his will, and this man is them authorised to issue movement papers to his villagers verifying who they are

Na Ka Sa               paramilitry border patrol on

                              Bumra’s Bangladeshi border

Nai                        form of address to an adult male

Naw                      form of address to a female

Plah                       Karen measurement of distance, from elbow to fingertip (1 plah is under 2 feet)

Pya                        100 Pya = 1 Kyat

Ringworm            derogatory SLORC reference to Karen soldiers

Sai                         form of address to a young male

Sangha                 Buddhist order of monks

Sao                        male of royal descent

Saw                       form of address to a male

Sayadaw               Buddhist abbot

Tatmadaw            Burmese army

Thakin                  master (used to address the

                              British    colonial rulers,

                              politicised by the independence

                              movement in ‘30s)

tical                      (see under “Measurements”)

tin                         (see under “Measurements”)

tract (village)      area including 4-6 villages

U                           form of address to adult male

viss                        (see under “Measurements”)

White Areas         area fully under the control of the Tatmadaw



* Some forms of address are used by only one ethnic group; others belong to many groups; still other have been borrowed from one group by another. To avoid argument, which ethnic groups use these terms have been omitted.


Burma at a Glance:

Facts and Figures



Country name:                    Union of Burma (1948)

                                             Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma (1974)

                                             Union of Myanmar (1989)


Area:                                    261,000 sq. miles

Coastline:                            1,600 miles

Population:                          43.7 million

Urban population:             24%

Population density:            160 people/sq. mile

Refugees:                             300,000 in Thailand; 20,000 in China and India; 270,000 in Bangladesh

Internally displaced:          2 million people


Birth rate:                            2.1%

Life expectancy:                 62 years

Adult literacy:                    19.4%

School attendance:             26.7%


Languages:                          Burmese, Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Mon, Shan, Wa, English,

                                             plus over 100 minority dialects

Religions:                            Buddhist (85%), Animist (5%), Christian (4.5%), Muslim (4%), Hindu (1.5%)


Per capital GDP:                 US$ 408; (Industry 10%, Agriculture 46%)

Per-capita ppp:                  US$ 595 (“ppp” means purchasing power parity, an adjusted GDP figure;

                                             Burma ranks among the world’s lowest)

GDP spending:                    3.1% on military (non-SLORC figures; over 50%), 2.2% education, 0.8% health

Wage earners:                    6 million (estimated)

LDC status:                          1987


Natural resources:             Tin, Plutonium, Zinc, Copper, Cobalt, Gold, Rubies, Jade, Teak (80% of world’s

                                             reserves), Fish (704 metrictons/year), Gas, Oil, Rice, Sesasum, Groundnuts

Agriculture:                        68% of workforce employed in agriculture; 15% of land arable;

                                             under 50% of potentially productive land under cultivation

Rice exports:                       3.5 million tons (1930s); 2 million tons (1962); 20,000 tons (1988)

Opium production:            1,300 tons (1988), 2,400 tons (1994) (70% of US market)


Administrative areas:        7 States (Arakan, Chin, Mon, Kachin, Karen, Kayan, Shan)

                                             7 Divisions (Irrawaddy, Magwe, Mandalay, Pegu, Rangoon, Sagaing,


Last election:                       May 1990

Next election:                     Unknown


Form of government:         Military dictatorship (State Law and Order Restoration Council, 1988-;

                                             membership expanded 1992)


Address: State Law and Order Restoration Council

                              Lt Gen Khin Nyunt, Ministry of Defence, Signal Pagoda Rd, Yangon, Myanmar

                              [mail addressed to “BURMA” will most likely not be delivered]









Ethnic Peoples

of Burma



The 43 million inhabitants of Burma, like China and India, are made up of a diverse mixture of culture, languages and peoples due to successive waves of migratory tribes descending from the north in ancient times, which appears to be continuing today. Colonisation by the British has also left its political mark on the country, arbitrarily drawing political boundaries and often dissecting a single indigenous nationas occurred in the case of the Chins, whose nation is divided between Bangladesh, Burma and India. Reliable figures are not available since the last attempt at any real census was by the British in 1931. There is especially lacking any real statistics from the ethnic groups themselves. Here is a brief look at the peoples of Burma, with maps and a chart from Martin Smith’s 1994 “Ethnic Groups in Burma”.



Mon-Khmer includes Mon, Wa and Palaung


Ancestors of the Mon-Khmer ethno-linguistic group were the first recorded civilisation in Indo-China. By the 16th century, the Mon ruled much of Burma, Siam and even parts of Laos and the Shan States. In the late 18th century the Mon capital, Pegu, was finally taken by the Burmans. Mons introduced Buddhism to the Burmans, and the Burmese script is based largely on the Mon. Yet in recent history the Mons have seen their language and culture being eroded by sucessive Burmese governments, and no less so by the SLORC.


Tai includes Shan minorities


The Shans came to the hills and plains of northeast Burma in the 9th or 10th century, at about the same time as the Burmans, as part of the major Tai immigration from China to souteast Asia. They controlled much of central Burma during the 14th and 15th centuries and even under Buritish rule they maintained a great deal of autonomy under the rule of Sawbwas.


Tibeto-Burman includes Akha, Arakanese (Rakhine), Burman, Kachin, Lisu, Naga and Zo (Chin)


The Burmans make up te majority ethnic group in Burma. The Arakanese are also Buddhist and like the Mon and Shan, once had an independent kingdom which was involved in frequent wars with the Burmans as well as Indian and Mongol invaders. Arakan was only conquered by the Burmans in the late 18th century. The Kachin and Zo (Chin) live mainly in the hills near and over the Chinese and Indian borders.


Karen includes Karen, Kayah (Karenni and Padaung), Kayaw and Pa-O


The Karen probably moved down to Burma in the 6th or 7th century. They occupied the mountainous region covering (and crossing) most of the modern long Burmese-Thai border. Today there are also large populations of Karen in the Irrawaddy Delta area and in all urban centres.


Others include Anglo-Burmese, Chinese, Indian and Rohingya


As well as indigenous minority groups, Burma also has large populations of naturalised immigrants. Many of these first came to Burma during the British occupation when Indian administrators were brought in to run the country, and Chinese and Indian traders dominated the economy. Bengali-speaking Muslims, known as Rohingyas, were also brought into Burma by the British colonial rulers, who themselves often inter-married or had children with all indigenous peoples and then educated their children abroad.


Headlines in Review:

Events of 1994





8             NSC plans stringent measures to control Burmese refugees – Thai NSC deputy-general Kachapai Burntpat says Thai security will work out stringent measures to strictly control Burmese ethnic groups in refugee camps to prevent them from engaging in anti-Rangoon activities


17           Thais SEIZE medical supplies for Burmese – Medical supplies destined for Burmese groups in the jungle, sent by Norway and worth 830,000 baht, were stopped and confiscated by Thai authorities on the Thai side of the border near Mae Sariang in Mae Hong Song Province


21           China helps Burma modernise its forces – With Chinese support, SLORC is rapidly expanding and updating its armed forced; informed estimates are that weapon purchases range from US$ 400 million in the last three years to US$ 1.2 billion, helping the junta to stay in power


28           BACTERIOLOGICAL warfare ?A strange yellow power was sprayed from SLORC aircraft over the headquarters area of the NMSP


29           KNPP attacked by slorc forces – LIB 421, 250 and 261 and IB 102 launched a lightening attack against the KNPP around midnight near Danai Khong San Village, 10 miles north of Loikaw, in an attempt to force the rebels into signing a ceasefire agreement


30           NGOs may face crackdown over aid to refugees – Thai authorities planned to clamp down on NGOs aiding Burmese in border camps, requiring registration of aid, etc.




*              thais relocate loh Loe – Thousands of Mon refugees begin to be forcibly repatriated to the Burmese side of the border at Halockhani, within walking reach of Tatmadaw outposts at Three Pagodas Pass


14           Burmese allows US officials to visit Suu Kyi – US Congressman Bill Richardson, UNDP representative Rahim and NY Times reporter Philip Sheron meets DASSK at her house in Rangoon as a goodwill gesture


19           Burma press-gangs thousands to build new railway routeSLORC rounds up and forces thousands of villagers to build a railway line in the southeast of the country between Ye and Tavoy, to be ultimately used as a military supply line to the insurgent area where the proposed gas pipeline will cross into Thailand


24           Mons want treatment of kinsmen in Burma probed – Thai Mons urged the UNHCR to look into the plight of their ethnic brothers in Burma who face brutality and human rights abuses at the hands of SLORC


24           UN Special Rapporteur delivers report – Yozo Yokota accused SLORC of committing atrocities on a wide-scale in a 27-page report to the 53-nation UNHCR, stating, “...the violations of human rights in Myanmar [Burma] [...] remain extremely serious [...] and the imposition of oppressive measures directed, particularly, at minority groups.”




3             Amoco decides to call it quits in Burma – The American oil and gas multinational Amoco announced that it would halt its exploration activities in Burma and would leave the country by the middle of 1994, admitting the corporation paid millions of US dollars directly to the Burmese junta only as a “contract-signing fee”


5             Burmese battalions poised to hit rebels – The SLORC military continues to attack ethnic groups, with the latest threatened drive against the Mon freedom fighters of the NMSP, located on the Thai border opposite Sanghklaburi, Thailand


9             More Burma Muslim refugees arrive in Bangladesh – More than 100 Burmese Muslims crossed into Bangladesh, jeopardising efforts of repatriating 200,000 Burmese refugees


11           Burma protests US plan for Radio free Asia – SLORC has protested against US plans to set up a new short-wave radio station called Radio Free Asia to broadcast into East and Southeast Asia


29           Three Thai companies submit bids for building dams on Salween – The Thai ambassador to Rangoon said three firms from his country have submitted proposals to construct dams on the Salween River as part of a massive seven dam and water diversion project along the Burmese border




5             Burmese forced to work to death – Burmese opposition leaders in exile say that at least 21 Burmese workers press-ganged to build a SLORC railways have been worked to death since September of last year; CPPSM and KHRG release separate reports on slave labour for Ye-Tavoy Railway in support of the natural gas pipeline to Thailand


22           Rights committee chief seeks to meet Suu Kyi – The chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Justice sought permission to meet with the Burmese leader under house arrest Aung San Suu Kyi; but was later denied




*              SLORC IN SHAN STATE – Offensives against Khun Sa’s Mong Tai Army intensified, sending a wave of refugees and escaped porters across the Thai border with allegations of human shields and minesweepers


1             NATIONAL CONVENTION DELEGATE ESCAPES TO LIBERATED AREA – Daniel Aung, MP-elect from the Lahu National Development Party and presidium member of SLORC’s national convention, fled Burma because he lost faith in SLORC’s political process due to the regime’s restrictions on speeches, debates, and suggestions by delegates


24           Thailand: BPP push back Burmese villagers fleeing fighting – Thai Border Patrol Police and Army Region 3 troops pushed back about 300 Burmese who tried to flee the SLORC army, who regularly conscript villagers as porters, near the border pass at Mae Sai


25           Burmese troops seize porters for Khun Sa battleBurmese government troops have seized hundreds of people from this border town to serve as porters in nearby hills where they are battling Golden Triangle opium warlord Khun Sa


28    Seven Burmese said arrested for backing Rangoon protest – At least seven Burmese citizens were detained and disappeared after showing support for a European who staged a protest in Rangoon demanding the release of DASSK on the fifth anniversary of the general elections which her party won




*              ARAKANESE VILLAGERS KILLED – According to the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation, SLORC has killed 150 villagers in Arakan State in June along in response to attacks mounted by the RSO in the Maungdaw area which began in April of this year


12           UNHCR VISITS THAI-BURMESE BORDER – For the first time, a UNHCR fact-finding tour of Burma’s eastern border was made for six days; Chief Ruprecht von Arnim concluded that any repatriation of Burmese refugees should be voluntary and monitored by the UN


21           Burmese Labour Calls for SLORC Expulsion from ILO – Maung Maung, Secretary of the FTUB, attended an ILO Conference in Geneva said that SLORC, which does not allow trade unions, should lose their seat as their labour representatives are appointed by the military regime and not the workers, in addition to the gross violations against the ILO Convention




1             Mon refugees under pressure from Rangoon – The National Democratic Front of Burma has accused Thai authorities of trying to pressure the NMSP to agree to ceasefire talks with SLORC by threatening to repatriate Mon refugees living in Thailand


4             SLORC ARRESTS DISSIDENT – Dr Khin Zaw Win, a former UNICEF employee, was arrested at the airport leaving Rangoon to return to Singapore, where he was completing his master’s degree, and accused of carrying anti-SLORC documents in his luggage; his wife was allowed to “see” him, but she had to wear a blindfold during the meeting in prison


11           Repatriation of Rohingya refugees accelerated – Following a two-month lapse after protests by the UNHCR and the expiration of the MOU, the repatriation of Burma’s Rohingya Muslim minority was increased as only 55,700 of the 272,000 had been already sent back


13           Burmese forced into slave labour – For the first time, city people are being mass-conscripted for forced labour as thousands of men, women and children are forced to provide free labour at least three days a month in order to “spruce up” Mandalay for 1996 tourism


21           Mon refugees attacked In an apparent retaliatory move by IB 62, refugee villages in the Halockhani area along the Thai-Burmese border are attacked, ransacked and burnt; several villagers were taken for portering and 6,000 refugees fled back across the Thai border, where they had been repatriated from in February


22           Burma Foreign Minister denies human rights problem – SLORC foreign minister Ohn Gyaw admits at the ASEAN meeting in Bangkok that he “didn’t think Burma had any human rights problems”


26           Mon refugees ordered out ‘DESPITE risks’ – Thai officials have ordered the return of 6,000 Mon refugees taking shelter in Kanchanaburi Province after Halockhani area refugee villages came under attack from Rangoon forces on 21 July




4             Fresh wave of Mons flee clash with govt forces at Halockhani – More than 500 Mon civilians fled into Thailand after a fierce battle between Mon rebel soldiers and SLORC at Halockhani camp – fighting which Thai authorities claim was finished and demanded the return of refugees by 10 August


4             SLORC ARRESTS MORE DISSIDENTS – U Khin Maung Swe, U Sein Hla Oo, Daw San San Nwe and her daughter Ma Myat Mun Mun Tun were arrested as a “support group” working in collusion with Khin Zaw Win, that “received, collected and redistributed publications from exiled organisations” and “fabricated and sent anti-government reports to some diplomats [...] foreign radio stations and visiting journalists”

10           UNHCR seeks halt to planned expulsion of Mon refugees – UNHCR has made an urgent appeal to the Thai government to halt the planned expulsion of 6,000 refugees from its territory, as Thailand continues to “repatriate” 500 Burmese economic refugees from Thailand each week to Halockhani without supplies since all aid was blocked by Thai authorities




9             MON Refugees rePATRIATED – After all NGO aid was stopped the month before, after food stores were seized by the Thai BPP, after 500 deportees were released there every week, after Thai pledges to relocate two more Mon refugee camps in Thailand; the last of the Halockhani refugees returned to the remains of their villages on the Burmese side of the border, “I would not call this a voluntary repatriation,” said a UNHCR official


9             Thailand agrees to buy natural gas from Burma – After two years of negotiations with the Burmese junta, Thailand signed an agreement to buy natural gas from the Yadana offshore fields in Burma’s Gulf of Martaban at an estimated US$ 400 million per year


20           The Lady Emerges – Senior members of SLORC met opposition leader, Nobel Peace Prize winner and prisoner of conscious Aung San Suu Kyi at a government guesthouse before the UNGA was set to meet; no details of discussions were released despite the visual publicity


29           India expels Chin refugees – 1,000 refugees from Chin State that have lived in Mizoram for years were rounded up by Indian authorities and forcibly repatriated to SLORC directly as relations warm between the two countries and Chinese influence in Burma grows




6             7-15 years for dissidents – Khin Zaw Win was charged with violating the Official Secrets Act and foreign-exchange regulations; four others were also sentenced to harsh sentences for allegedly helping to distribute “information injurious to the state”


10           Burmese dissidents begin seminar in Manerplaw – A host of resistance organisations began intense meetings to discuss the DAB draft constitution of the Federal Union of Burma at Manerplaw


29           the generals meet the lady ii – Once again Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi met with SLORC for three hours of “frank and cordial” talks on Burma’s current political situation, but no other information about the meeting were released




3             Peace and Democratic Front Formed – Eight ethnic groups that have signed ceasefire agreements with SLORC formed an alliance to back their demands for swifter progress towards democracy by freeing DASSK and recognising the 1990 election results, and also the PDF members agreed on military cooperation in case one of its members is attacked


17           ‘Strong evidence’ over Burma’s germ warfare – An international NGO visited Karen land to investigate the mysterious balloons being dropped from SLORC planes, and the disease epidemics which followed




10    MANERPLAW ATTACKED BY SLORC – The military junta in Rangoon broke its own unilateral ceasefire and launched a simultaneous attack on the headquarters of the KNU and Burmese democratic forces at Manerplaw, as well as on the headquarters of ABSDF at Dawn Gwin




Conditions within Tatmadaw (Burmese Army)



“An atmosphere of fear also corrupts the oppressor.”

—Aung San Suu Kyi


Although its true that the Burmese army, or Tatmadaw, has played an important role in modern Burma, the military regime oversteps history in its quest for legitimacy to that role and tramples the people’s rights in the desperate process.


The current Burmese armed forces were formed under imperialistic Japanese influence during World War II, when the historic “Thirty Comrades” were trained by Tokyo to throw off British colonialism. Although the Japanese motto that “the armed forces were the master, not servants, of the people”, influenced the Burma Independence Army, and later the Burma Army, the Tatmadaw gained immediate recognition from the people as a group of young idealists who fought and sacrificed everything for the sake of national liberation. Leading figures of that movement were also among the intellectual elite and politically active in the 1930s. Thus the army gained respect as both liberator and protector of national unity as the challenges of independence preoccupied the 1940s.


However, Gen Aung San, the national hero and commander-in-chief, pointedly resigned from the military when taking office as Burma’s political leader. Politics and the military did not mix, he open believed. His strength was found in that he worked for national unity on the political, not military, level, with the crowning achievement of his efforts the Panglong Agreement in 1947. But this image of Burma’s national hero was buried by the centralised propaganda of the Burma Socialist Programme Party, led by Gen Ne Win, the commander-in-chief under Prime Minister U Nu. This image of Aung San in a non-military role has been warped and covered over to an isolated Burma during the Ne Win Era, in an attempt to legitimatise the dictatorial military regime which started in 1962 and continues today. Indeed, it was because of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s open criticism to military leaders for perverting what her father stood for, that she was placed under house arrest in 1989.


The BSPP was an extension of army values, their heavily centralised government nurtured and exploited Burmese society to continue its mistrust of foreign influence and values in the aftermath of World War II, while being obsessed with national unity and the fear of outside interference in internal affairs. The people, still able to remember the heroic contributions of the original BIA, couldn’t help but feel anti-army sentiment went against the independence of the state despite Ne Win’s dictatorial and ineffectual “socialism”. If you were anti-government or anti-army, then you were against the unity of the country. Burma faced continual insurrections after Aung San’s murder and subsequent independence from Britain. This way of thinking proved to be out-dated in the emerging post-WWII world but very much alive in the military’s quest for power.


The feelings that the Tatmadaw were looking after the country’s best interest were no longer harboured by the majority of the people after 1988, when pro-democracy advocates and peaceful civilians alike were slaughtered in the streets of every city, township and village. The BSPP’s desperate attempt to stay in power, followed by their equally unsuccessful successor SLORC, changed the people’s minds as to the real role of the Tatmadaw in the country’s existence. Also, with the fleeing of students, politicians and democracy activists to the periphery borders of Burma, where ethnic conflict and warfare had been continuing since the country’s foundation, Burmans and non-border minorities found a true view of the military’s “national unity” they previously were not allowed to witness. The treatment of the ethnics were found to be sub-human, and much of these same conditions continue to exist as they did under Ne Win’s rule, hidden from the majority of the people inside Burma.

Increasingly the role of the military is becoming clear to all of Burma’s citizens as the claws of the Tatmadaw touches all people’s lives within the country, not just ethnics and border villagers, but city dwellers and Burmans. The army no longer fulfils its old dual values of protecting and maintaining the country, except to the reminiscent few who hold power and need a legitimate excuse for keeping that power despite the wishes of the people. Conditions inside the once professional soldiering army have deteriorated, along with the general disintegration of the country by BSPP/SLORC policies. Corruption, extortion, violence and a lack of morals extends to the highest levels of the Tatmadaw, and not only affect civilians but soldiers. Widespread evidence of maltreatment and human rights abuses within the military are increasingly coming to light as more and more soldiers are able to escape from the Tatmadaw.

"Any of our own soldiers who were seriously wounded were killed. If it isn't serious if they can walk or if it's easy to take them, then they're taken back. If not they're killed. The company commander orders this. When I saw things like that happen I feel very sad. It's a terrible fault. Our own soldiers, we must bring them back but we didn't. It's a crime. It's like frog eating frog, fish eating fish."

— Zaw Myint, Burma Army deserter, KHRG interview, 7 August 1994


After 1962’s military coup, the distinction between army and state ceased to exist; the bureaucracy became unqualified army personnel and its clientele, and thus the new privileged class of Burma. Their incompetence and vested interests are the main cause for the gross economic decline and they will be an obstacle to any successful reforms. As the system lacks regulatory bodies and feedback mechanisms after the SLORC coup, the effectiveness of government continues to decline. The Tatmadaw’s historic role has been re-interpreted beyond recognition. While the army claims responsibility for the Burmese state, it will not take responsibility for the situation in Burma, claiming the Tatmadaw is “doing its duty in accordance with its responsibilities”. The military is making every effort to maintain its power and privileges, including the political role via the SLORC “national convention”, for another four decades. Lacking the support of the people, and intent on a military solution to Burma’s problems, SLORC must rule through intimidation and oppression. Physically that involves increasing violence, destruction and terror of the people, in which human rights abuses play a prominent role for the Tatmadaw to hold onto its rule in Burmese society. The more desperate the military clique are in staying in power, the more extreme the methods to continue its grip on the tiger’s tail.


In order to do this, SLORC requires large amounts of soldiers to keep down the people. Guns and bombs are not enough against the universal display in 1988 and 1990 for peace, freedom, democracy and human rights. Therefore, SLORC has been rapidly expanding its armed forces from 190,000 in 1988 to some 350,000 in 1994, with a target goal of 500,000 men under arms. Although some soldiers do enlist themselves, economic factors in the country’s worsening conditions for the non-military clique play a prominent role in their decision. Most soldiers are dissatisfied and receive no respect from the populace at large. Boys still in school are regularly kidnapped, coerced or tricked into joining the Tatmadaw and immediately sent to training camps to be ill-equipped and shipped to frontlines within a few weeks. From reports received the conditions are known to be almost as worse as those of porters; soldiers are routinely beaten by officers and forced to cater to their officers’ personal needs. The pay is poor or non-existent and communication with the outside, even family members, is forbidden. Despite the reality of conditions within the army; once in, there is little chance of escape.


Many do soldiers do try, however, to escape the terror they unwillingly become part of. Accounts of soldiers defecting or even joining the opposition are common, as was recently reported that “...The Western Command of Arakan State issued a directive to Arakan State Law and order Restoration Council instructing them to issue an urgent order to all Township Law and Order Restoration Councils to arrest some six soldiers who have even reportedly on their way to join insurgency. In this connection, the Arakan State authorities had sent letter No. C 105.” [source: MOA]


Among the many individual soldiers who run into the jungle to escape the SLORC were 11 men and boys from IB 434 who, in June 1994, were unable to take the suppressive situation inside the Tatmadaw, so in desperation they killed three of their commanding officers before fleeing to the safety of the Liberated Areas. Many of their stories tell of the brutal conditions troops face and how they unfortunately found themselves under such conditions. Certainly, the oppression of the people is not confined to civilians, but a systematic terror involving all of Burma’s citizens.


[see under “Eye-witness Accounts”, interview 129-144]


A Note about Structure of the Tatmadaw


There are 10 commands/divisions spread throughout the country. Under these there are Tactical Operations Commands and Military Strategic Commands; normally, MSC is for “mop up” or behind the lines operations in occupied territory, while TOC are the frontline troops).


Furthermore, commands, divisions, TOCs and MSCs are split into many groups, from battalions to companies, platoons to sections, and so on (sometimes “regiment” is used instead of “battalion”).


Columns can be under any of these groups. They are temporarily formed from a combination of any troops for a specific operation. For example, 2nd Column of IB 31 could mean IB 24, 31, 61 and 62 together under the command of IB 31, which then could be under the direct command of Northern Command. When that particular operation concludes, the troops return to their usual chain of command under their own units.


Therefore, it is extremely difficult when listing HRV to state clearly which troops are involved under which column and when, etc.