THE NATIONAL CONVENTION
IN BURMA (MYANMAR):
An Impediment to the Restoration of Democracy
Janelle M. Diller
International Centre for Human Rights
and Democratic Development
International League for Human Rights
New York, New York
2 April 1996
International League for Human Rights
228 E 45th Street, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10017
(International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development)
1001 de Maisonneuve Blvd. East
Suite 1100, Montreal, Quebec
H2L 4P9 CANADA
Printed in the United States.
[Note by the editor of the Internet version: some changes in format have been made and the contact information of the publishers updated. An alternative version of the Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law was used for legibility, but the text follows the original throughout]
TABLE OF CONTENTS
OVERVIEW AND SUMMARY
I DEVELOPMENTS LEADING TO THE NATIONAL CONVENTION
II. THE NATIONAL CONVENTION
A. Supplanting the Will of the People expressed by Electoral Mandate
Permanent Minority Role for Elected
2. Restrictions on Freedoms of Convention Delegates
B. Obstructing Genuine Dialogue
C. Dismantling Political Structures and Suppressing Independent Activity
1. Nullification of Elected Candidates' Status
2. De-registration of Political Parties
3. Political Restrictions on Parties and Activists
D. Ensuring Permanent Military Control over Law and Politics
1. Constitutional Principles that Entrench Military Control
2. Development of a Nationwide Patronage System for Political Support
II. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Obstruction of Political and Associational
2. Violations of Economic and Social Rights
I Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law, State Law and Order Restoration Council Law No. 14/89, 31 May 1989
II Letter from Aung Shwe, Chairman of the National League for
Democracy, to Senior General Than Shwe, Chairman of the
State Law and Order Restoration Council, dated 25 March 1996 (to arrange for convening of the first Pyithu Hluttaw (legislature)) (official translation)
III Law Amending the Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law, State Law and Order Restoration Council Law No. 10/91,10 July 1991
IV Letter from Aung Shwe, Chairman of the National League for
Democracy, to Senior General Than Shwe, Chairman of the State Law and
Restoration Council, dated 28 March 1996 (protest against lawless proceedings) (official translation)
NLD National League for Democracy
NUP National Unity Party
SLORC State Law
and Order Restoration Council
SNLD Shan Nationalities League for Democracy
UNCHR United Nations Commission on Human Rights
USDA Union Solidarity Development Association
OVERVIEW AND SUMMARY
Despite repeated and urgent calls by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly and Commission on Human Rights, Burma's military rulers have been impeding the restoration of democracy in Burma (Myanmar). At the 50th session of the General Assembly last year, the world body called on the government to "take all necessary steps towards the restoration of democracy in accordance with the will of the people as expressed in the democratic elections held in 1990" and to "take all appropriate measures ... to accelerate the process of transition to democracy, in particular through the transfer of power to democratically elected representatives."
This report reviews developments relating to political freedoms in Burma, with particular focus on the National Convention, a constitution drafting exercise initiated by the military. The report also highlights restrictions on political parties and surveys the status of Members of Parliament (MPs) elected in 1990 to a legislative assembly that has not been allowed to convene.
The 1990 multi-party elections were not the first in Burma's recent history. Following independence from Britain in 1948, Burma became a multiparty parliamentary democracy under a constitution drawn up by a constituent assembly in 1947. In the years that followed, civil war erupted between the largely Burman  Army and the various ethnic groups who populate vast outlying areas of Burma. In 1947, the ethnic groups had agreed to join the independent Union of Burma on condition of equal status in a federation of states, but that agreement was never fully implemented after the assassination of Burman nationalist leader and negotiator, General Aung San. The country's experience with modem democracy was interrupted abruptly in 1962, when military General Ne Win seized power from elected Prime Minister U Nu, in part due to growing military concern over ethnic nationalist and communist insurrections.
Military rule since 1962 has left Burma a repressed and impoverished country. A constitution promulgated in 1974 under Ne Win's rule served as an instrument to keep the general in power and maintain central government authority. In 1988, after the resignation of Ne Win, together with a series of mostly nonviolent demonstrations led by pro-democracy Burman students, a group of military officers took power in a coup that left perhaps thousands of demonstrators dead and many other activists imprisoned or exiled. The junta, calling itself the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), dissolved the legislature and other organs of power under the 1974 Constitution. The SLORC proclaimed martial law and declared its government to be extra-constitutional.
In a bid to legitimize its rule, the SLORC called multi-party elections in 1990, which ended in a landslide victory for the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by the charismatic Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of General Aung San. Aung San Suu Kyi had returned to the country recently following years of life abroad with her British husband. Representatives of some ethnic nationalities, who participated in the elections through ethnically-based political parties, also won seats in the parliamentary assembly (Pyithu Hluttaw). The SLORC refused to seat the NLD-dominated legislative assembly and, as documented below, has attempted to replace the electoral process with a constitution-making exercise controlled by its own agents. Since its takeover, the SLORC has entered into cease-fire agreements with some 15 ethnic nationalities while simultaneously continuing the civil war against other ethnic groups and engaging in massive relocations and forced portering of ethnic civilian populations, The cease-fire agreements fail to
address the ethnic nationalities' demands for political autonomy under a federal rather than centralized system of government; in contrast, the NLD has agreed in principle to a federal system for a future democratic Burma.
This report concludes generally that the current National Convention and the social environment surrounding the exercise of political freedoms in Burma impedes the restoration of democracy and violates Burma's obligations and political commitments to promote human rights as a member of the United Nations. The report suggests some minimum next steps necessary to correct the situation. The report's specific findings about the SLORC's current actions are the following.
Supplanting the Electoral Mandate. The SLORC has consistently refused to convene the parliamentary assembly elected in 1990, despite repeated requests by the landslide victor, the National League for Democracy (NLD). The NLD made its most recent request on 25 March 1996, a copy of which is attached as an annex to this Report. In an attempt to sidestep the pro-democracy electoral mandate, the SLORC has initiated an unrepresentative and restrictive National Convention to draft a new constitution. As of this writing, less than three percent of Convention delegates are elected representatives and none are from the NLD. In late November 1995, the SLORC expelled all the NLD delegates from the Convention for boycotting the meeting for two days following the SLORC's refusal of an NLD request to review working methods of the Convention. The working methods of the Convention include prior censorship and criminally-enforced restrictions on free discussion and debate.
Obstructing Genuine Dialogue. The SLORC government has roundly rebuffed any calls for genuine negotiations, even from highly respected elders in the country, with the NLD and its leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic minorities' representatives. Consistently, the SLORC has offered the unrepresentative National Convention as the only forum for dialogue regarding Burma's transition to a democratic government.
Dismantling Political Structures and Suppressing Independent Activity. SLORC has used the now three-year old National Convention as a means to gain time to methodically suppress independent political activity. Since the elections in 1990, the SLORC has systematically nullified the elected status of nearly 25 percent of the winners in the 1990 elections, and has de-registered more than 80 percent of the parties that participated in the 1990 elections. The results have left gaping holes in the membership of a yet-to-be convened parliamentary assembly (Pyithu Hluttaw), and only 10 of 93 political parties that contested the elections are still functioning lawfully. In addition, a governmental policy of retaliation in the form of arrests, detention, denial of educational and economic benefits, and violent threats have chilled most independent attempts at political
expression and association.
Ensuring Permanent Military Control over Law and Politics. Over objection by elected representatives, the SLORC has required that all constitutional principles being drafted at the Convention conform with six Convention objectives, one of which is to provide a leading role for the military in the political life of Burma. The Convention's adopted principles, which are so detailed as to leave no discretion to any future drafters, reflect a legal and political system in which the military will dominate a civilian government by forced participation in executive and legislative bodies at all levels of government. A centrist system is devised that fails to address the calls of ethnic nationalities for greater political autonomy at the local level. To entrench its political presence and attempt to win support for its new constitution, the SLORC has developed the nation-wide Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA). The association serves as a patronage system to buy popular allegiance through special privileges and threatened loss of jobs or social benefits. The USDA has sponsored forced attendance at numerous mass rallies to express support for the work of the National Convention and condemn the NLD and others who are seeking a civilian-led democratic form of government with respect for human rights.
THE NATIONAL CONVENTION
IN BURMA (MYANMAR):
An Impediment to the Restoration of Democracy
DEVELOPMENTS LEADING TO THE NATIONAL CONVENTION
Nearly six years after the 1990 elections, Burma's military rulers continue to refuse to seat the People's Assembly elected in 1990. A constitution-drafting exercise, known as the National Convention ("Convention"), stands as the response of the military junta, called the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), to the 1990 landslide election victory of the National League for Democracy (NLD). The National Convention, now in its fourth year, was conceived by the SLORC as a mechanism to draft a new constitution for the country in accordance with military wishes.
Two months after the May 1990 elections for a parliamentary assembly (Pyithu Hluttaw), the SLORC unilaterally decided not to immediately convene the assembly but rather to require the writing of a new constitution as a pre-condition to a transfer of power to an elected government. In its Declaration 1/90, the SLORC stated that "the representatives elected by the people are responsible for drafting a constitution for the future democratic state."
Fifteen months later, despite earlier reported promises that the new parliament would be "independent" and "unrestricted in writing a constitution", the SLORC announced that it would call a national convention to be attended by 702 delegates, including elected representatives. Based upon the convention's consensus, the elected representatives would draft a new constitution with "all necessary assistance" and "suggestions" from the SLORC, in a process which could take five to 10 years.
In 1994, two years after the National Convention began, a SLORC minister announced that the SLORC planned to propose a new constitution that would be adopted by referendum and then hold a general election in accordance with the new charter. Nonetheless, some observers have speculated that the risk of losing a referendum may turn the SLORC to yet another strategy: submittal of the new charter for ratification by a constituent assembly elected under restrictive rules now provided by the National Convention "guidelines" which, for example, require candidates to have military experience. Under either scenario, yet another election to form a governing assembly would
ensue before the SLORC would transfer power, at least in name, and the 1990 elected body apparently would never be convened.
II. THE NATIONAL CONVENTION
As set forth below, the SLORC has muffled the very political representatives whose active contribution is essential to the process of legitimate constitution making. Political leaders are marginalized into a permanent minority within the National Convention. In addition, the SLORC has imposed severe restrictions on Convention delegates to prevent free discussion and informed decision-making. In response to pleas for a genuine political dialogue, the SLORC has proffered the Convention as the only forum for dialogue. The Convention has also served as a stalling device to continue the government's methodical attempt to dismantle independent political organization and activity. As the Convention enters its third year, a crackdown on political dissent is increasing in the aftermath of the NLD's 86-delegate expulsion from the Convention. At the same time, SLORC-controlled decisions within the Convention embed a constitutionally-entrenched permanent role for the military and its supporters in the government of the nation.
A. Supplanting the Will of the People expressed by Electoral Mandate
1. Permanent Minority Role for Elected Representatives
Through the vehicle of the Convention, the SLORC has attempted to sidestep the mandate of the 1990 elections in which the people expressed their will for a civilian democratic government. It has repeatedly rejected requests by the NLD to convene the elected People's Assembly (Pyithu Hluttaw), the most recent of which was made on 25 March 1996. Instead, the SLORC created the constitution-drafting National Convention with elected representatives permanently in the minority.
At the start of the Convention in 1993, only about 15 percent of all delegates were representatives elected in 1990, in marked contrast to the NLD's win of 80 percent of the seats in the People's Assembly. In the 1990 elections, the National League for Democracy (NLD) won 392 of 485 contested parliamentary seats. Other pro-democracy parties took many of the remaining seats, including the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) with 23 seats, while the military-backed party, the National Unity Party (NUP), won only 10 seats. At the National Convention, however, the People's Assembly elected representatives serve in two of eight groups at the Convention: the 'Members of Parliament (MPs)-elect' group and the 'political parties' group. Other delegates hand-picked by SLORC form the other six groups at the Convention: national races,
peasants, workers, intelligentsia and technocrats, public service personnel, and other invitees.
In November 1995, SLORC expelled the 86 NLD delegates who boycotted the Convention for two days following a summary denial of an NLD request to review the Convention's working procedures. The expulsion has highlighted the lack of any meaningful representation at the Convention. The MPs elected in 1990 now constitute less than three percent of the total current delegates to the Convention. The expulsion followed the NLD's written request to speak to the "views of the Working Committee of the National Convention" as an organization "in favour of the successful implementation of the National Convention." When SLORC refused, the NLD announced its intention not to continue attendance at the Convention. The SLORC's Work Committee then revoked the delegacy of the NLD delegates because they had failed to request permission for their two day absence from the Convention, as required by the Convention Rules. It is a matter of speculation whether the remaining elected delegates from the SNLD and other
ethnically-based parties are acting in coordination with the NLD, or whether they believe they can wrest some meaningful concession at the Convention.
The NLD's rationale for its bold move was signalled in an earlier press conference in which NLD General Secretary Aung San Suu Kyi expressed the party's concern that the National Convention had not realized the leading role of political parties in constitution-drafting that had been outlined in SLORC's Declaration 1/90 that followed the election. Other concerns included the permanent minority role of political parties and the imposition of SLORC's objectives and working procedures for the Convention. Following the walk-out, NLD leaders announced that the boycott of the National Convention will last "until such time as a dialogue is held on national reconciliation, the genuine multiparty democracy system, and the drafting of a constitution which is supported and trusted by the people." Aung San Suu Kyi reiterated that "at the moment the NLD has only said that they will not be attending the convention until such time as a proper dialogue has been successfully achieved ... It would be regrettable and sad, indeed, if elections had been held in 1990 to hoodwink the people of Burma and the world."
The SLORC's expulsion and harsh public response to the NLD's boycott demonstrates the military leaders' inability to accept that, as elected representatives, the party's actions are based on its authority mandated by the people. The leading government newspaper characterized the NLD's request to reply to the Convention's Work Committee as actions that "were made with intent to mar the successes achieved so far by the National Convention ... their National League for Democracy would replace [the NC] with a convention they would be able to dominate as they like, giving priority to promotion of the interests of their party." The government media promised that the armed forces would "resolutely take action against and annihilate those who mar or disturb the interest of the entire nation." Post-boycott attempts to vilify Aung San Suu Kyi in the government press included an article casting the political leader as Maung Ba Than, a reviled 19th century traitor who helped British forces conquer Burma.
2. Restrictions on Freedoms of Convention Delegates
Along with a minority role for elected representatives, the SLORC created a working atmosphere for the Convention that punishes free thought and discussion and rejects independent decision-making. Six months before the opening of the National Convention, the SLORC held preparatory meetings to establish the operating rules of the meeting. As in the Convention itself, the NLD representatives who attended the preparatory meetings were under-represented among political party delegates and delegates at large. The decisions imposed were telling: there would be no immunity from prosecution for statements made at the Convention, only those with "a positive stand" would be welcome and no instigating of unrest would be allowed.
The National Convention delegates live and work in an environment that suppresses debate and prevents delegates from taking papers from the meeting room to their lodging areas. At the opening of the Convention, the SLORC distributed Convention regulations to all delegates requiring that all speeches for debate be pre-cleared by the chairmen of groups concerned. The rules forbid walkouts, individually or in groups, and any other shows of protest, and also prohibit delegates from distributing leaflets, wearing badges, bringing in papers which are not approved by the SLORC oversight committee, and lobbying or influencing other representatives. Prior review of all speeches made was required.
The SLORC has not hesitated to use the criminal arm of state justice to enforce the Convention's strict rules. In 1994, one NLD delegate, Aung Khin Sint, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for allegedly publishing leaflets critical of the junta's role in the National Convention.
No signs of relaxation of the restrictions are in sight. As if to excuse its actions, the SLORC stated in late November 1995 that, with "ten political parties and many indigenous groups returning to the legal fold ... it has become necessary ... to develop principles and procedures to avoid extremes in flexibility in order to ensure the development of the genuine multiparty system we aspire to. No one disputes or dislikes our goal -- the emergence of a democratic nation. We may have a common goal, but we must avoid the mistake of being too earnest about reaching our goal."
B. Obstructing Genuine Dialogue
The government has roundly rebuffed any calls for negotiations among the SLORC, the NLD and its leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and representatives of ethnic nationalities, even from highly respected elders in the country. Aung San Suu Kyi repeatedly expressed a desire for dialogue in the period between her release from house arrest in July 1995 and NLD's expulsion in November 1995. In late November 1995, 23 senior Burmese independence leaders and politicians signed a letter urging the SLORC and the NLD, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, to hold a dialogue "for the sake of the people and the country." In a meeting with SLORC and its criminal investigators to which the authors of the letter were summoned, the SLORC threatened the elders and called them "stooges"Also in late November 1995, the SNLD made an appeal to Than Shwe and Suu Kyi to strive together for national reconciliation.
Pressure on the SLORC to enter into dialogue with pro-democracy activists has come from various foreign states and the UN as well. Both the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Commission have called on the government to do so. Several months ago, the General Assembly urged the government "to engage, at the earliest possible date, in a substantive political dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and other political leaders, including representatives of ethnic groups, as the best means of promoting national reconciliation and the full and early restoration of democracy.
To all the pleas, the SLORC's answer has been constant: the National Convention is the only forum for dialogue. The answer leaves unaddressed the fact that Aung San Suu Kyi - and now her party as well - play no role in the National Convention. Yet Aung San Suu Kyi remains convinced that a dialogue is inevitable, and even the SLORC leaves open the possibility. Following the NLD's expulsion and satire against SLORC at a private New Year's party held at the NLD leader's home, the official media stated:
"If she [Aung San Suu Kyi]
had remained ... patient... the
dialogue she desires so much would
have already been in progress ... even now she fails to anticipate that the miliary leadership, well
aware of their responsibilities, may yet be contemplating such a dialogue . . . and foolishly goes
on to antagonize them with her strident demands and invectives.
In an interview before the expulsion, Aung San Suu Kyi reportedly stated that "[dialogue is a way of finding a solution that will benefit all sides, that will be acceptable to all sides, and we think that they will see in time that this is what dialogue is about, but we would like them to see it sooner rather than later." As long as the National Convention continues in its current form, it appears that "sooner" will become "later".
C. Dismantling Political Structures and Suppressing Independent Activity
Now entering its fourth year of an unspecified time table, the National Convention has helped the SLORC gain time in its efforts to suppress independent political structures and activities. The SLORC's Election Commission officially recognized the results of the election shortly after the vote count but has yet to issue a final report on the 1990 elections. As detailed below, in the nearly six years since the election, the Election Commission has stripped almost 25 percent of elected representatives of their elected status, banned half of those from participating in future elections, and de-registered more than 80 percent of the parties that participated in the 1990 elections. In addition, the government has implemented a policy of retaliation against individual activists, particularly those in the NLD party, taking the form of arrests, detention, denial of educational and economic necessities, and violent threats.
1. Nullification of Elected Candidates' Status
Since the election in 1990, the SLORC has systematically cancelled the elected status of winning candidates and, in more than half the cases, forbidden the candidate from running in future elections, either for 10 years or permanently. More than three-fourths of the nullifications were based on the fact that SLORC had charged or convicted the winners of criminal offenses. However, in most of those cases, reliable information reveals that the conduct complained of amounted to nothing more than a peaceful exercise of freedom of expression, association and assembly and the criminal charges do not meet internationally recognizable standards.
SLORC's nullification campaign has left vacant at least 94 of a total of 485 seats in the membership of the yet-to-be convened parliamentary assembly and disabled at least 49 MPs from running for another election, half for ten years time and another half permanently. The nullifications were based on a variety of reasons. In the vast majority of cases (74 out of 94 identifiable cases), the Election Commission nullified the elected status of winners after they were charged or convicted of criminal offenses. The NLD party has suffered the overwhelming majority of arrested and convicted MPs. Indeed, top NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi was disqualified as a candidate prior to the election, first on the ground of alleged allegiance with a foreign country and, on appeal, because of alleged links to outlawed organizations in armed revolt against the state.
Many of the nullifications imposed after the election were based on charges under two key laws: section 122-1 of the Penal Code and the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act. Twenty-seven Mps were charged with violations under section 122-1 of the Penal Code, which reads: "Whoever commits High Treason within the Union of Burma shall be punished with death." The SLORC reportedly commuted death sentences passed by civilian courts. Eighteen other MPs were charged under the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act, of which two commonly-used sections read:
anything is done intentionally to spread false news knowing it to be
false or having reason
to believe that it is false, or if any act which is likely to cause the same is done;... he shall
be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 7 years, or with fine or with both, [and]
He who ... causes or intends to
disrupt the morality or the behavior of a group of
people or the general public, or to disrupt the security or the reconstruction of
stability of the Union: ... such a person shall be sentenced to seven years in prison,
fine or both.
Along with exercising its
authority to nullify elected status, the Election Commission also
exercised retroactively its authority under Election Law amendments
to ban qualification to run in future elections.
The Commission imposed a permanent ban on 24 MPs from running in
and a 10-year ban on standing for election in 25 other cases.
The SLORC granted the Commission authority to ban the running in
future elections more than one year after the 1990 elections
but applied retroactively to the candidates who won the 1990
Of the other 20 cases of nullification, at least eight occurred due
to death of the candidates.
One of the Mps, NLD leader U Tin Maung Win, died while held in
custody on 18 January 1991.
2. De-registration of Political Parties
Since the 1990 election, SLORC has engaged in a similar dismantling of the multi-party structure that developed in the context of the 1990 election. As of this writing, only 10 of the 93 political parties who contested the 1990 elections remain as lawfully functioning parties. In order after order, the Election Commission abolished political parties, in many cases for reasons apparently not provided by law. In some cases, the reasons for de-registration appeared to come from SLORC's own ad hoc philosophies and no prior notice or opportunity to be heard was given to the organizations. For example, in striking nine political parties, including the United Nationalities League for Democracy, a multi-ethnic coalition organization that won one seat in the election, the SLORC announced:
In scrutinizing political
parties, it has been found that some have been unable to
specific party membership and party branch lists. Some have even been unable to specify
their party's political aims and objectives, while some of its responsible personnel have been
found to be lacking in abiding with existing laws. Others have neglected their organizational
activities because they thought their party's standing was based on representatives' beingelected ...
The commission believes that in implementing a compact and stabledemocratic
system, such political parties should not be allowed to continue to exist.
Even organizations that won
seats in the 1990 elections were abolished summarily.
Other organizations were de-registered because they were "unable
to form at least 10 party organizations" or because they had no
one elected in the 1990 elections.
In contrast, three of the 10 remaining political parties failed to
win seats but inexplicably were not de-registered. As of this
writing, the ten legally existing political parties were: the NLD,
SNLD, NUP, United Karen League, Union Pa-O
National Organization, Shan State Kokang Democratic Party, Mro O
Khami Unity Organization, Kokang Democracy and Unity Party, Lahu
National Development Party, and the Wa National Development
All but the NLD and the NUP represent the parties of ethnic
3. Political Restrictions on Parties and Activists
Even for the remaining political parties, maintaining independent party life is nearly impossible because of government-imposed restrictions. Government surveillance of political parties is intense and reportedly has increased for NLD members since the NLD expulsion from the Convention. Leaders of some political parties are not allowed to travel except with military permission. Organizing activities like distribution of party literature to the public, printing or photocopying bulletins and statements, and assembling in groups of five or more are prohibited without government permission. Notable exceptions include the NUP's distribution of literature and holding of meetings, and the weekend gatherings of several thousand people outside the home of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to hear the NLD leader speak and respond to letters sent.
Nonetheless, recent reports indicate that barbed wire barricades are placed along both sides of the road on weekends during the NLD leader's addresses and observers report a feeling of tight military scrutiny; the placement of the wires led to a protest that left three NLD supporters jailed. In a veiled threat, the government-controlled media reported that "[t]his group that blocks the road is .. conspiring to sabotage the success so far achieved at the National Convention . . ,"
Of serious import is the interference with party structures themselves. The NLD's attempt to reinstate Aung San Suu Kyi as their General Secretary, following her forced removal during her six years of house arrest, was reportedly rejected by the SLORC Election Commission. Vacancies. in the central executive committees of the parties are reportedly not allowed to be filled; if the committee drops below a certain minimum, the party is abolished.
Along with revoking the status of winners and political parties, the government has implemented a policy of retaliation against individual activists, particularly those in the NLD party. The retaliation has taken various forms, including arrest, detention, denial of educational or economic benefits, and violent threats. Among at least 80 MPs that have suffered arrest, detention and, in some cases, criminal convictions, 15 MPs remain in detention. Although over 2,000 political detainees have been released since April 1992, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in July 1995, hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of political prisoners remain detained, serving long sentences. Along with political leaders, political prisoners include Buddhist monks, students, journalists, laborers and people from various classes and professions.
Since the NLD expulsion from the National Convention, a significant crackdown on NLD supporters has resulted in a written protest by NLD to Senior General Than Shwe. In a recent incident, an NLD activist was denied counsel in his own defense and sentenced to five years for involvement in a minor car accident while the son of a senior military officer in a car accident that resulted in a death was granted bail and allowed a lawyer to defend him. NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi reportedly criticized the activist's trial and sentence as "sheer lawlessness much worse than anarchy."
Political activists, in particular NLD supporters, and their children suffer discrimination in receiving equal economic and educational access. Reliable sources report that, in many townships, members of the NLD are debarred from taking part in meetings of Parents and Teachers Associations to plan educational projects, reflecting a built-in bias against those who desire to work toward democratization. In addition, political activists are not eligible for training or receiving contracts from UN agencies and are passed over in favor of township military leaders and persons close to village authorities.
D. Ensuring Permanent Military Control over Law and Politics
1. Constitutional Principles that Entrench Military Control
The SLORC has insisted that the National Convention adopt principles that will permanently ensure military control over civilian executive and legislative bodies at all levels of government. To do so, the SLORC has required that all constitutional principles at the Convention conform with a key objective: to provide a leading role for the military in the political life of Burma. Substantial yet unsuccessful resistance by elected representatives and political parties to the notion of a leading military role was reported early in the Convention process. Even as recently as December 1995, a Convention delegate representing the SNLD reportedly stated that principles should serve as bases for the constitution only when they stand the "test of the fundamental principle "sovereignty resides in the citizens," a position which was not adopted.
As stated in the government-controlled media, "[t]he Tatmadaw's [military's] responsibilities are not over with the writing of a firm constitution. It must take suitable responsibilities." Rather than leaving the "suitable responsibilities" for future delineation, the SLORC has ensured that the National Convention's principles are so detailed that little discretion can be left to future drafters. Among those principles are provisions authorizing the military to exercise emergency powers during "states of emergency" broadly defined as situations in which lives, shelter, or property are threatened in a region, state or self-administered area, or where adequate information exists that such threats could occur, or where attempts are made to take sovereign power of state by force, disturbances and violence, or there is a conspiracy to do so.
The guidelines adopted at the National Convention guarantee the military a leading role in government through a series of rules relating to qualifications for office and composition of government bodies. The rules are prescribed for the various units of government which themselves were set up by SLORC proposal at the Convention: the central or Union level, state and regional divisions, townships and districts, and self-administered areas created for certain ethnic groups. Despite demands by ethnic nationalities for a federal system granting ethnically diverse areas with greater local autonomy, the SLORC's Convention rules entrench a centrist system of government in which central authorities maintain all residual power and exercise detailed governance over constituent units. Under the SLORC's rules, for example, the country's president will prescribe the number of ministries to be formed at the regional and state level and the national constitution would stipulate the qualifications for region/state chief ministers, ministers, and legislative representatives. In creating the new state structures, the SLORC ruled at the Convention itself on requests by ethnic groups for self-administered areas despite acknowledging the need for updated data; in ruling on the requests of ethnic groups, the SLORC used a formula that resulted in arbitrary denials. For example, along with other denials, no self-administered areas were allowed for Rohingya Muslims in the western Arakan State of Burma, where local persecution has reportedly been responsible for mass exoduses of refugees in recent years.
The Presidency. Despite opposition by elected MPs and political party leaders at the National Convention, the SLORC insisted on a presidential rather than parliamentary system for the country. Nonetheless, even the country's president is to serve at the mercy of the military's Commander in Chief. Under principles adopted by the Convention, the President has no authority to reject the selection of, or dismiss from service, the military appointees nominated by the Commander in Chief to serve as ministers of defence, security/home affairs and border affairs.
Qualifications for the country's president have written out Aung San Suu Kyi virtually by name: 20 years continuous residency, political, administrative, military and economic experience, and the president's spouse, children and children's spouses may not be citizens of foreign powers or entitled to rights and privileges as foreign citizens. Despite concerns expressed by the Convention's then elected representatives, election for the country's president is to occur, not directly, but through an electoral college with a strong defense services composition.
Executive bodies in all constituent units across the country are to include military appointees, nominated by the Commander in Chief to undertake responsibilities of defence, security and border administration. At the district and township levels, the defense services role is to be even broader; the Commander in Chief is to assign military personnel to "participate together with District Administrators in affairs not only for "security" but also for "enforcement of law, regional peace and tranquility." Like the country's president, the chief ministers of constituent units will be powerless to reject nominations or dismiss military ministers. Restrictive qualifications for minister appointments exclude persons who have criminal convictions for any offence, thus barring the many MPs-elect who have been convicted on politically-based charges.
Legislative Power. Under the SLORC's Convention 'principles', legislatures at union, region and state levels will have military representatives nominated by the Commander in Chief in ratios preset by the SLORC. In both houses at the union level, military personnel will comprise 33 percent of the total; at the region and state levels, military nominees will comprise 25 percent of the total. The SLORC rationale for requiring an unelected legislative power in the country is "[i]n order that the Tatmadaw [military] may be able to participate in the national political leadership role of the future state . . ." The reserved military seats in the legislature were adopted over the objections of five political parties.
The Convention's principles further bar any independent legislative authority over the miliary and prescribe instead that military matters will be taken up by military legislative representatives in military committees. Restrictive qualifications for union-level representatives are similar to those in the current Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law but require, in notable addition, birth to parents who are both citizens and a clean criminal record. As with the ministerial and presidential posts, Mps-elect who have been the subject of political prosecution will be barred from participation, even if no separate retroactive bar on standing for election has been imposed as discussed supra. Significantly, defense personnel are not excluded from qualifying for election, unlike the current Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law.
Judicial Power. In designing the judicial power, the National Convention principles provide that "[t]he Tatmadaw has the right to independently administer all affairs concerning the forces .. .", which presumably excludes ordinary judicial jurisdiction even over common crimes committed by military personnel. The SLORC's plan for judicial power requires that judges not be members of political parties.
Individual Rights and Responsibilities. Under the SLORC's prescription, individual rights are seriously limited by being available only "according to law." SLORC-sponsored principles emphasize those limitations in such statements as "necessary laws shall be enacted to ensure the freedom, rights, benefits, responsibilities of and restrictions on citizens," and "all citizens shall have equal rights [to] freedom of opinion and worship -- if they are not against law and order, public morals, public health and other [constitutional] provisions . . ," Even those rights that will be recognized appear to be granted only to citizens, not all persons within Burma. A limitation based on citizenship is particularly onerous to many ethnic and linguistic minorities living in Burma who have been denied citizenship, either as a matter of law or due to the arbitrary denials of government officials. Notably, one of the duties of "every citizen" will be to "learn military science".
2. Development of a Nation-wide Patronage System for Political Support
In the same year that the National Convention started, the SLORC created a country-wide political association, the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), to serve as a patronage system to buy or force popular allegiance to the SLORC. As of December 1995, the membership of the USDA was reported at two million people, mainly students and other young people. According to corroborated reports, government employees and students are forced to enroll in the USDA on threat of losing their jobs or opportunities to sit for examination. In other cases, special privileges are given exclusively to USDA members, such as obtaining a passport or buying air tickets easily, and getting preferential consideration for jobs in the public sector.
Although the SLORC called the USDA a "private association" in its public report to the UN, that image is negated by the praise which SLORC has given the association as "a national force who will serve the national interests hand in hand with the Defense Services." Indeed, the SLORC has bluntly stated that the USDA was formed to prevent similar events to those of 1988, when pro-democracy demonstrators were gunned down en masse.
In recent months and especially
after expulsion of the NLD from the Convention, the USDA has
sponsored forced attendance at mass rallies to support the work of
the National Convention and SLORC has pointedly cited to the rallies
in support of the proposition that "the National Convention is
meant for the country."
Traders allegedly reported that people are woken early in the morning
and put on private vehicles whose owners are press ganged into
transporting others to rallies, and many must spend the whole day
without food in a distant location attesting allegiance to the
Other reports indicate that those who refuse to show for the rallies
are subject to 50 to 500 Kyats fine.
The SLORC has reported that, in recent rallies, motions have passed
"to express support for the success of the National Convention"
and "to crush those who
are sabotaging the National Convention," and "oppose and ostracize" them.
III. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Rather than moving Burma toward democracy, the National Convention is impeding the democratization process by failing to create structures of accountability and transparency and by obstructing processes for growth of independent political life. According to the UN Secretary-General, a durable democratization process requires, among other elements, the "establishment of armed forces respectful of the rule of law, the training of police forces that safeguard public freedoms and the setting up of human rights institutions." If democracy is to function effectively, it requires dialogue - in the Secretary-General's words, "a political culture of participation and consultation."
As a participating member of the international community at the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993, Burma committed itself to "support the strengthening and promoting of democracy, development and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the entire world," including within its own borders. Indeed, as a treaty party to the UN Charter, Burma is bound to promote "universal respect for, and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion." The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides an authoritative statement on the rights recognized by the Charter, certain of which have reached the status of customary international law binding on all states, including Burma.
The National Convention and the
SLORC's repression of political freedoms and genuine political
dialogue violate Burma's UN Charter obligations, illuminated by the
Universal Declaration, and its recent affirmations made at the World
Conference on Human Rights. The facts detailed above reveal gross
violations of political, civil, economic, social and cultural
Several are discussed below.
1. Obstruction of Political and Associational Rights
Among many breaches, the pattern of systematic repression documented above demonstrates the SLORC's deliberate obstruction of the realization of fundamental political and associational rights. The foundation of fundamental political rights is recognized in article 21(3) of the Universal Declaration, which declares that "the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government [and] shall be expressed in ... genuine elections ..." The will of the people for civilian controlled, democratic government was expressed in the landslide win of the NLD and other pro-democracy parties in the 1990 Pyithu Hluttaw elections which the SLORC is actively obstructing, as detailed above. The SLORC's compulsory association, the USD A, and its forced mass rallies grossly violate the related associational right that stipulates that "[n]o one may be compelled to belong to
The SLORC's practices further
breach established norms of non-discrimination with regard to the
exercise of political rights. The Convention on the Political Rights
of Women, which Burma has signed but not yet ratified,
provides that women shall be eligible for election to all publicly
elected bodies [and entitled to hold public office and exercise all
public functions], established by national law, on equal terms with
men, without any discrimination".
The General Assembly recently stressed its conviction that equal
opportunity for all citizens to become candidates was required in an
electoral process to determine the will of the people.
The extent to which women are prejudiced, in practice if not by
from equal access to government
service in elected and appointed posts is in doubt given the
requirements of various experience, including military service, for
the Presidency, other elected posts, and all reserved military posts
in the legislatures and executive bodies at all government
2. Violations of Economic and Social Rights
The facts presented also demonstrate violations of the most basic human rights to non-discrimination and equality in economic and social life. The customary norm of non-discrimination is recognized in, among other documents, the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty to which Burma is a party. In the economic sphere, the threat of loss of one's job on the basis of political opinion, and required participation in the USDA and its rallies upon threat of losing one's job, breaches those non-discrimination provisions as well as the right to equal work opportunities recognized in article 23 of the Universal Declaration. The barring of NLD parents from Parent and Teacher Association meetings and compulsory participation in the USDA on threat of refusing opportunities to sit for examinations grossly violates the right of equal access to education, both for children themselves and for parents in choosing the kind of education to be given their children.
Based on the above, the current National Convention and the social environment surrounding political life in Burma impedes the restoration of democracy and violates Burma's obligations as a member of the international community to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms. Some minimum next steps to be taken to correct this situation include:
• the rescission of the SLORC-led National Convention;
• the release and unconditional pardon of all political prisoners and expungement of all criminal records based on political convictions;
• the reinstatement of de-registered political parties and re-recognition of the elected status of MPs-elect whose status was stripped;
• commencement of a substantial political dialogue among the NLD, ethnic representatives and the SLORC to include, among other elements, discussion of the seating of the 1990 Pyithu Hluttaw;
• acceptance of international cooperation and joint action in solving problems respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, including full cooperation with the UN Secretary-General, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, and International Committee of the Red Cross.
PYITHU HLUTTAW ELECTION LAW, 31 MAY 1989
The State Law and Order Restoration Council Law No. 14/89, 13th Waning Day of Kason, 1351 B.E., 31st May, 1989
In order to hold a free and fair Multi-Party Democracy General Election and to elect the representatives of the Pyithu Hluttaw, the State Law and Order Restoration Council hereby enacts the following Law: -
Title and Definition
1. This Law shall be called the Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law.
2. The following expressions contained in this Law shall have the meanings given hereunder: -
(a) Hluttaw means the Pyithu Hluttaw;
(b) Commission means the Multi-Party Democracy General Election
(c) Sub-commission means the State, Division or Zone or Township or Ward or Village-tract Sub-commissions formed by the Commission. The expression also includes Sub-commission formed by the Commission with members of the State or Division Sub-commission to act as Zone Sub-commission;
(d) Election means the Multi-Party Democracy General Election;
(e) Constituency means the Hluttaw Constituency;
(f) Hluttaw representative means a person who has been elected to the Hluttaw;
(g) Member of religious order means the following individuals: -
(i) in the case of Buddhists, monks, novices, religious laymen, nuns, hermits and hermitesses serving the Buddhist religious order;
Explanation: The expression member of religious order applies to a religious monk or a member of the religious order while he is serving temporarily as such;
(ii) in the case of Christians, persons who have been recognised and ordained or assigned duties by the relevant Churches as an individual who has dedicated himself mainly to serving the Christian religious order, persons included in the group of individuals or organization which of their own volition have submitted to the control of the respective head according to the religion professed as organized by religious discipline or vow;
(iii) in the case of Hindus, Sanvazi, Mahant or Hindu priests;
(h) Electoral Roll means the roll of persons entitled to vote within the constitutions prescribed for the Hluttaw Election;
(i) Convicts means persons serving terms of imprisonment under sentence passed by any court. The expression also includes persons who are serving prison terms by the order of the court and pending appeal against the sentence of imprisonment of the Court concerned;
(j) Polling Booth Team means a team which is assigned by the Township Sub-commission concerned the duty of taking collective responsibilities in connection with voting at a polling booth within a constituency;
(k) Polling Booth Officer means the person who is in charge of the Polling Booth Team;
(l) Electoral Right means the right of a person to stand or not to stand as a Hluttaw candidate or to withdraw from being a Hluttaw candidate or to vote or refrain from voting at the election;
(m) Corrupt Practice means any practice mentioned in CHAPTER XIII of this Law.
Formation of the Hluttaw
3. The Hluttaw shall be formed with the Hluttaw representatives who have been elected in accordance with this Law from the Hluttaw constituencies.
Specification of Constituencies
4. The constituencies from which Hluttaw representatives are to be elected are as specified in the Appended Schedule. Provided that, prior to the declaration of the date for holding the election, if the Government prescribes certain new areas within a township or an amalgamation of areas within contagious townships as a Township, the Commission may prescribe as appropriate, in order to form at least one constituency in the original township or in the newly-formed township, although the number of constituencies contained in the Appended Schedule has been exceeded.
5. One representative each shall be elected from one constituency.
Persons Entitled to Vote
6. Persons with the following qualifications are entitled to vote at the election irrespective of sex and religion:
(a) citizen, associate citizen and naturalized citizen who have completed the age of eighteen years in the day of commencement of election and who do not contravene the provisions of this Law;
(b) persons whose names have been included on the electoral roll of the respective constituency.
7. The following persons shall not be entitled to vote at the election:-
(a) members of religious orders;
(b) persons who have been adjudged to be of unsound mind as provided for in the relevant law;
(c) persons serving prison terms, having been convicted under sentence of a court for any offence;
Persons Entitled to Stand for Election
8. Citizens possessing the following qualifications shall be eligible to stand for election irrespective of sex or religion: -
(a) At the time of filing the nomination paper for the purpose of election:
(i) persons who have completed the age of twenty-one and who are not contrary to the provisions of this Law;
(ii) persons both of whom parents are already citizens or even if both parents have died they would have the right to acquire automatic citizenship under the Union Citizenship Act, 1948 if they were alive or at the time of death of the said both parents they were already citizens or if one of the parents was a national and the other parent who died before the promulgation of the Burma Citizenship Law, had at the time of death been eligible to apply for naturalization;
(b) persons residing in the Union of Burma;
(c) persons included in the electoral roll;
9. A person having the right to stand for election is eligible to contest the election individually or as a member of a political party.
10. The following persons shall not be entitled to stand for election:-
(a) members of religious orders;
(b) persons adjudged to be of unsound mind as provided for in the relevant law;
(c) persons serving prison terms, having been convicted under sentence of a court for any offence;
(d) citizens who are not born of parents mentioned in Section 8 Sub-section (a) clause (2);
(e) persons who are under any acknowledgement of allegiance or adherence to a foreign Power, or are subjects or citizens or entitled to the rights and privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign Power;
(f) associate citizens, naturalized citizens and foreigners;
(g) members of organization declared as unlawful association according to any existing law;
(h) members of organization in armed revolt against the State; persons against whom there is sufficient grounds of having links with the said organizations or with its members to revolt;
(i) individuals or members of organization who obtain and make use of State fund, building, vehicle, property directly or indirectly:
(1) The expression State fund does not include pension or the official monetary support given by the State for the services rendered for the benefit of the State;
(2) The expression building, vehicle, property belonging to the State does not include buildings and apartments belonging to the Housing Department, other buildings and apartments belonging to the State which have been used under any existing law or rented from the State; aircraft, train, steamers and motor-cars belonging to the State which have been hired on charges from the State;
(j) individuals or members of organization who obtain and make use of money, property, other assistance from the Government or religious organization or any other organization of a foreign country directly or indirectly;
(k) individuals or members of an organization who, for political purposes, use religion as an excuse, and utter, deliver speeches and make declarations to vote or not to vote and who encourage and incite such acts;
members of defence forces such as Armed Forces, People's Police
Force, public servants from various public service bodies and various
State-owned economic organizations and other public servants enjoying
salary from the State fund.
Note. Retired persons are not included among such public servants.
11. After being elected a Hluttaw representative shall have no right to continue to be a Hluttaw representative on infringement of any of the following:-
(a) permanently becoming a member of a religious order;
(b) being adjudged to be of unsound mind as provided for in the relevant law;
(c) being declared to cease to be a citizen in accordance with the respective law;
(d) being declared by the Election Tribunal to be under any allegiance to foreign Power or is a subject or citizen or entitled to the rights and privileges of a subject or citizen of foreign Power;
(e) being permitted by the Commission or by the authority concerned to resign as a Hluttaw representative;
(f) being declared by the authorities concerned as a citizen not born of parents provided in Section 8 Sub-section (a) clause (2).
(g) being decided by a court as a person or a member of an organization provided for in Section 10 Sub-section (g) or (h);
(h) being decided by the Election Tribunal to be a person or a member of an organization as provided for in Section 10, Sub-section (i), (j) or (k);
(i) being informed by the respective head of public services body to be a public servant as provided for in Section 10 Sub-section (1)
Preparation of Electoral Roll
12. (a) The Commission shall prepare the electoral roll for those who are entitled to vote in the election of Hluttaw representatives in various constituencies;
(b) In connection with the preparation of the electoral roll the Commission may assign duty to Sub-commission.
13. (a) The Ward and Village-tract Sub-commission shall include in the electoral roll every citizen, associate citizen, naturalized citizen not being contrary to the provisions of this Law, and residing in the constituency and having completed the age of eighteen years on the day, commencement of election;
(b) The Ward or Village-tract Sub-commission shall include in the respective electoral roll as prescribed, the Armed Forces personnel; diplomats of the Union of Burma and members of their household, embassy staff and members of their household, State scholars and members of their household, delegates and members of their household who are outside the country; and those who are outside the country with the permission of the Government and members of their household.
14. (a) Every citizen, associate citizen, naturalized citizen whose name is included in the electoral roll of a constituency shall have the right to vote only in that constituency;
(b) A person who has the right to vote and wishes to transfer from the electoral roll of one constituency to the electoral roll of another constituency showing sufficient grounds may apply to the respective Sub-commission as prescribed;
(c) Whoever has the right to vote in any Hluttaw constituency shall not be on the electoral roll of any constituency other than that of the constituency concerned at the same time.
15. A list of the names of those persons who have the right to vote shall be declared in advance as prescribed before the election is held in the respective constituency.
16. (a) A person who has the right to vote under this Law, but is not included in the respective electoral roll may apply to the respective Ward or Village-tract Sub-commission in the manner prescribed to be included in the electoral roll;
(b) If the Ward or Village-tract Sub-commission concerned does not insert the name there is a right of appeal to the Township Sub-commission as prescribed. The decision of that Sub-commission, subject to the provisions of Section 45, shall be final and conclusive.
17.(a) If any person whose name is in the electoral roll objects to the inclusion of any person who is not entitled to vote in the electoral roll of the constituency, objection may be submitted to the Ward or Village-tract Sub-commission in the manner prescribed;
(b) If that name is not cancelled from the electoral roll by the respective Ward or Village-tract Sub-commission, there is a right of appeal to the Township Sub-commission in the manner prescribed. The decision of such Sub-commission shall be final and conclusive, subject to the provisions of Section 45;
(c) A person whose name is already included in the electoral roll shall not be debarred from voting during the pendency of the appeal with the Township Sub-commission. A vote cast under such a right shall be valid.
18. The Commission and the Sub-commissions at different levels shall add, in the supplementary electoral roll, the names which are not included, although eligible, or shall cancel the names not eligible from the electoral roll.
Nomination of Hluttaw Candidates and Appointment of Election Agent
19. A person desirous of contesting the election shall file nomination of candidate with the respective Zone Sub-commission in the manner prescribed.
20. A candidate shall not have the right to file a nomination for the candidature at the same time in more than one constituency.
21. The Zone Sub-commission concerned shall scrutinize in the manner prescribed nomination of a person or the Hluttaw candidature as to whether it is in conformity with the stipulations or not, and whether it should be accepted or not.
22. A person who has filed nomination for Hluttaw candidature has the right to withdraw the nomination as prescribed.
23. At the time of scrutinization by the Zone Sub-commission concerned under Section 21:-
(a) the person concerned having filed nomination for candidature shall have the right to produce the evidence as desired by him;
(b) any eligible voter producing sufficient evidence may object in prescribed manner that the person concerned who has filed his nomination for Hluttaw candidature is not eligible or qualified for the election.
24. The Zone Election Sub-commission concerned may, after scrutinization as prescribed, order one of the following:
(a) declaring the respective person having filed his nomination for Hluttaw candidature as eligible;
(b) declaring the person who has filed the nomination for Hluttaw candidature as not eligible.
25. A person dissatisfied with the order made under Section 24 has the right to appeal to the respective State or Division Election Sub-commission in the prescribed manner. The decision of that State or Division Election Sub-commission is final and conclusive subject to the provisions of Section 45.
26. A person having filed nomination for the election shall appoint himself or another person as his election agent in the prescribed manner.
27. (a) Only a person who is qualified to be a candidate under this Law shall be appointed as an election agent. Such appointment shall be made only with the consent of that person;
(b In the event of resignation or death or revocation of election agency of the election agent appointed under Sub-section (a), the candidate may again appoint another person as his election agent.
28. The Commission shall:
(a) hold the elections simultaneously on the same day as far as possible;
(b) hold the elections on public holiday as far as possible;
(c) determine and declare the date of election in advance.
29. Hluttaw representatives shall be elected by the eligible voters residing in the respective constituencies directly by secret ballot.
30. The Commission may allocate the number of the polling booths for the Wards and Village-tracts on the basis of the number of eligible voters and the conditions of the locality or may delegate such powers to the State or Division Sub-commissions. The Township Sub-commissions may be assigned the duty of locating the venue for the polling booths.
31. Arrangements shall be made for the polling booths to be secure and not detrimental to the secret ballot at the place easily accessible to the public. The venue of the polling booths shall be notified to the public in advance.
32. In order to supervise the polling booths at various Hluttaw constituencies, the Township Sub-commission concerned shall:-
(a) appoint suitable persons from amongst the public servants as polling booth officers;
(b) form polling booth teams consisting of public servants, citizens, associate citizens and naturalized citizens who are trusted and respected by the local public, and assign duties as prescribed;
(c) prescribe by Rules the duties and powers of the polling booth teams and polling booth officers.
33. On the day of election, each Hluttaw candidate may appoint a polling booth agent and an assistant who are to act on his behalf at the respective polling booth in the constituency where he is contesting. Such agent and assistant shall be eligible voters.
34. (a) If there is only a single candidate in a constituency, election for such constituency shall not be held, and the Commission shall declare such candidate to be the Hluttaw representative;
(b) If there are more than one candidate in a constituency, voting shall be arranged with the ballot boxes and ballot papers as prescribed by Rules.
35. On the day of the election, polling booths shall be kept open from 6 am to 4 pm. However, polling booths may be closed earlier than 4 pm if all eligible voters have cast their votes.
Eligible voters shall personally draw the ballot papers from the
respective polling booths. Such ballot papers shall be cast
personally into the respective ballot boxes and not by proxy.
37. Any eligible voter in an election shall:-
have the right only to a single vote;
(b) not have the right to vote more than once.
38. (a) The respective Township Sub-commission shall arrange for the Armed Forces personnel, students, trainers, public servants, detainees and inpatients at the hospitals who are away from their constituencies, to vote with advance ballot paper in the respective constituency;
(b) The Ward or Village tract Sub-commission concerned shall arrange for an eligible voter who is on the electoral roll and who will be away from his constituency on the day of election, to vote with advance ballot paper;
(c) If persons residing in the constituency who are unable to come to the polling booth to vote in person due to any of the following reasons wish to vote, the Ward or Village-tract Sub-commission concerned shall arrange for them to vote with advance ballot papers as prescribed: -
(i) having contracted leprosy;
(ii) being seriously ill;
(iii) being of old age;
(iv) giving birth at home;
(v) being detained in a police custody or in prison;
(vi) taking medical treatment as an in-patient in hospital;
(vii) public servants, Armed Forces personnel and members of the Public Force who are on duty, away from the area in which they have their electoral roll;
(d) Rules shall be prescribed as regards the manner of voting by persons having difficulties in making entries on the advance ballot paper or ballot paper on their own.
39. (a) The Commission shall make arrangements to enable the diplomats and members of their household of the Union of Burma, embassy staff and members of their household, State scholars and members of their household, delegates and members of their household who are outside the country at the time of holding election and those who are outside the country with the permission of the Government and members of their household at the time of holding election to vote in advance for their respective constituency;
(b) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of the Union of Burma shall take the responsibility of communicating with those who are outside the country and who have the right to vote so as to enable them to vote in advance.
Counting of Votes and Declaring Confirmation
40. (a) The Ward or Village-tract Sub-commission shall hand over the advance ballot papers already cast under Section 38, Sub-section (b) and (c) and the list of those who have voted with advance ballot papers in connection with the various polling booths to the respective polling booth officer before the opening of the polling booths on election day;
(b) Immediately after the ballot papers are cast in each constituency, the polling booth officer or a member of the polling booth team assigned by him shall count the votes in the polling booth in the presence of the members of the polling booth team, the public, and the polling booth agents. In counting, valid votes and invalid votes are to be differentiated in accordance with the Rules. List of number of votes counted shall be made as prescribed and the Schedule List of votes shall be sent to the Township Sub-commission. A copy shall be sent to the Ward or Village-tract Sub-commission;
(c) The Ward or Village-tract Election Sub-commission shall supervise the dispatch of the voting list schedules compiled by polling booths officers in its area in prescribed manner to the Township Election Sub-commission as fast as possible to reach it in time;
(d) The Township Election Sub-commission shall, before 4 p.m. on election day, count all advance ballot papers already cast under Section 38 Subsection (a) and Section 39 Sub-section (a) in the presence of Hluttaw candidates or election agents and the public and shall combine the voting list schedules for each Hluttaw constituency in the manner prescribed.
41. (a) Should there be more than one candidate in a constituency, the Township Sub-commission shall announce the number of votes each candidate has received. To enable the Commission to declare the candidate with the highest number of votes to be the elected candidate and to enable the election to be held again in case of a tie of votes, the Township Sub-commission shall submit it to the Zone Sub-commission as soon as possible;
(b) On receiving the report of the Township Sub-commission under Sub-section (a), the Zone Sub-commission shall submit it to the Commission together with remarks and opinion. A copy shall be forwarded to the State or Division Sub-commission
(c) The Commission shall declare the elected candidate as per the lists submitted by the Zone Sub-commission under Sub-section (b). On submission under Sub-section (a) that there is a tie of votes the Zone Sub-commission shall proceed in accordance with the Rules as instructed by the Commission in connection with holding a new election. If an election is to be held afresh on account of the tie of highest votes, only the candidates whose votes are so equal are eligible to stand for election.
Powers of Commission
42. The Commission
(a) may postpone the election in certain constituencies in which elections could not be held due to natural disasters till such a time as the disaster is over;
(b) may postpone the election in a constituency where preparation of list of voters or balloting is not possible due to lack of security;
(c) may decide to hold election in some areas within the constituency where the situation permits and may decide not to hold election in some areas within the constituency where the situation does not permit. It may also decide to transfer the polling booth to secure places. However, if 51 per cent of voters have cast votes, a valid election shall be deemed to have been held. Should it be the opinion of the Commission that free and fair election cannot be held, it may postpone the decision in the entire constituency.
43. The Commission may delegate to Sub-commissions the powers to postpone election and to transfer the venue of polling booths to secure places.
44. In a constituency where there is only a single candidate if, before the election is held, that candidate dies or is found that he is not entitled to stand for election, the election for that constituency shall start afresh from the stage of the nomination of the candidate.
45. In election matters the Commission has the power to call for the proceedings and documents suo moto of each sub-commission as it deems fit and study and decide accordingly. This decision shall be final and conclusive.
46. The Commission may take measures as necessary for the successful holding of free and fair election.
Election Agents and Expenses
47. The election agent shall keep accounts of the expenses of the elections concerned systematically as prescribed. He shall submit the accounts of the expenses as prescribed to the Zone Sub-commission concerned.
48. The maximum scale of expenses and the number of persons employed for payment for the Hluttaw candidate shall be as prescribed by Rule.
Election Offences and Penalties
49. (a) A person's right to stand for election and to vote shall not be violated by force, threat, undue influence, cheating, taking or giving of bribes to any person;
(b) Whoever sits in contravention of Sub-section (a) shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to two thousand kyats or with both.
50. No person shall contravene any of the following prohibitions. Whoever contravenes shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to two thousand kyats or with both:-
(a) obtaining the electoral right by unlawful means or after obtaining such right committing, giving and taking bribes by way of money, goods, foodstuff, position or service transfer;
(b) threatening a Hluttaw candidate or a voter to prevent him from freely exercising his electoral right;
(c) making speeches, making declarations and instigating to vote or not to vote on grounds of race and religion or by abetment of such;
(d) instigating, making speeches at meetings, writing, distributing, using posters to disrupt the voting.
51. No person shall contravene or cause another to contravene any of the following prohibitions. Whoever contravenes or abet such contravention, if convicted, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to one thousand kyats or with both:
(a) dishonestly making illegible or destroying list, notices and documents published by the Commissions and Sub-commissions;
(b) dishonestly destroying list of votes or ballot papers or making the envelope or pouch sent by post containing such illegible;
(c) giving the ballot paper to some other person in an improper manner;
(d) inserting into the ballot box an article other than a ballot paper;
(e) opening or destroying without authorization the ballot box or ballot paper which is in use;
(f) voting in an election at more than one constituency;
(g) voting more than once in an election of one constituency;
(h) impersonating another person to obtain and cast a ballot paper;
(i) entering the polling booth without permission while the election is in progress;
(j) putting one counterfeit ballot paper or more into the ballot box.
52. Whoever is found guilty of disturbing any eligible voter so as to prevent him from casting the vote on the election day or whoever is found guilty of abetting such act shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to one thousand kyats or with both.
53. (a) No person shall commit any of the following acts inside the polling booth or within the radius of one hundred yards from the polling booth on the election day:
(ii) soliciting a voter to vote for a certain candidate for the Hluttaw;
(iii) persuading a voter not to vote for a certain Pyithu Hluttaw candidate or persuading a voter to vote or not to vote at an election;
Explanation: This section does not apply to sticking or fixing campaign posters etc. regarding the election in any places other than the polling booth.
(b) Whoever is found guilty of contravening any provisions of Sub-section (a) shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to one thousand kyats or with both.
54. Any person discharging duties in connection with the election including different levels of Sub-commission shall abide by the following provisions. Whoever is guilty of contravening any provision shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to one thousand kyats or with both:-
(a) to accurately prepare and maintain the lists, schedules and records regarding elections;
(b) to help and safeguard secret voting;
(c) all matters, with the exception of those permitted to be published by the Commission, shall be kept confidential;
(d) acting rightfully, not canvassing votes and not showing partiality in favour of any Hluttaw candidate, during the election.
55. (a) No person shall convene a public meeting within a constituency on the election day other than for a religious purpose and no person shall attend such a meeting;
(b) Any person found guilty of contravening the prohibitions mentioned in Subsection (a) shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to one thousand kyats or with both.
56. (a) No person shall cause disturbance to the voters or the polling booth officer and members of the polling booth team on duty by using loud speakers or by such equipment which amplify the human voice or by other undisciplined acts, inside the polling booth or within five hundred yards radius from the polling booth;
(b) Any person found guilty of contravening the prohibitions mentioned in Subsection (a) shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to one thousand kyats or with both.
57. (a) Whoever acts in an improper manner inside the polling booth, during polling hours or who disobeys the lawful orders of the polling booth officer shall be evicted from the polling booth by a member of the People's Police Force on duty, or by any security personnel on duty under the order by the polling booth officer or by the member of the polling booth team authorised by the polling booth officer;
(b) Any person who is evicted from the polling booth and who returns to the polling booth without the permission of the polling booth officer, and if found guilty, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to one thousand kyats or with both.
58. Any person who commits an offence punishable under Section 54 shall be prosecuted with the permission of the Commission, or with the permission of the Government when the Commission is dissolved or with the permission of the person who is appointed for this purpose by the Government.
59. Whoever dishonestly and fraudulently lodges any criminal proceedings against any person regarding offences relating to elections, if found guilty, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to one thousand kyats or with both.
60. If the polling booth officer finds any person who commits or is committing any offence under this Law, he may order a member of the People's Police Force on duty, or any security personnel on duty to arrest that person.
61. Regarding offences relating to elections, any voter of the constituency concerned, or any Hluttaw candidate, or any elected member of the Hluttaw or a member of a Sub-commission concerned or any member of the polling booth team having sufficient proof may file a complaint in the Township Court before the election or during the election or within fifteen days from the election.
62. The following practices are deemed to be corrupt practices:
(a) Hluttaw candidate either by himself or by his election agent or any person with the approval of one of them commits the following offences:
(i) giving or taking bribes;
(ii) interfering with the electoral right;
(iv) making verbal or written false declaration;
(v) signing false statement;
(b) casting of vote more than once in one constituency or in more than one constituency when elections are simultaneously held, which will be to the advantage of a candidate he favours;
(c) a Hluttaw candidate or his election agent has incurred contrary to the stipulations more than the authorized expenditure or consented to incur more than authorized amount during the election;
(d) failure to account for the election expenses on the part of the election agent;
(e) any person who takes away the ballot paper from the polling booth, with the consent of the Hluttaw candidate or his election agent;
(f) with the prompting or consent of the Hluttaw candidate or his election agent committing the following:
(i) whoever accepts bribe or agrees to accept bribe, with the intention of participating or not as a candidate in the Hluttaw election or resigning from the membership of Hluttaw, in return;
(ii) whoever accepts bribe for himself or for other person or agrees to accept such bribe, with the intention of inducing or trying to induce a voter to vote for a particular candidate or to abstain from voting;
(g) submission of false accounts of the election expenses or declaring the false accounts to be true or failure to submit the election expenses as prescribed;
(h) any person who is not a Hluttaw candidate or not an election agent of that Hluttaw candidate, without the permission of such candidate, convenes a meeting, or distributes papers and documents or incurs or consents to incur expenses in any other way, with a view to making him win election as a Hluttaw candidate or abets for such purpose;
(i) publishing and distributing announcements, posters and bills without mentioning names and addresses of printers and publishers for the benefit of the Hluttaw candidate, whom he favours;
(j) any Hluttaw candidate, or his election agent or any person with the consent of one of them, obtains help from a public servant, or abets or attempts in obtaining help from such public servant so that a Hluttaw candidate may be elected;
(k) using of religious emblem in the election campaign, or making use of nationality or religion for the purpose of inducing to vote or not to vote with a view to getting a Hluttaw candidate elected;
(l) resorting to violence, making and writing false accusation and creating public disorder to a person or a party, with a view to getting a Hluttaw candidate elected.
Decisions on Objections Concerning Elections
63. If objection is desired to be made as regards being elected, it shall be made in forms prescribed in accordance with the provision in this CHAPTER.
64.(a) Objections to being elected a Pyithu Hluttaw representative may be made as prescribed by any Hluttaw candidate or any voter for reasons of his own other than matters which have been decided by the Commission under Section 45 to such person as may be appointed by the Government for this purpose;
(b) The applicant may file objection against an elected Hluttaw member. If he intends to seek a declaration that only he has obtained the majority votes and should he be elected, he is to base his objections on one of the following:
(i) the reason that only the applicant did in fact obtain the maximum valid votes;
(ii) the reason that if votes obtained by the elected Hluttaw representative did not include votes obtained by corrupt practices, the applicant could obtain the maximum valid votes.
65. (a) The Government shall form three-member Election Tribunals each consisting of legal experts and suitable ... [illegible] for enquiry into objections regarding the election;
(b) Remuneration for members of the Election Tribunals shall be as prescribed by the Government;
(c) Expenses incurred by the Election Tribunals shall be borne by the Supreme Court;
(d) The accommodation for the Election Tribunals and staff required for performance of their function shall be provided by the Supreme Court;
(e) All matters concerning election objections shall be taken up by the Election Tribunals;
(f) In respect of the election held for one constituency, if more than one objection are raised, the person appointed by the Government shall assign the objections to only one Election Tribunal. Such tribunal may inquire into the objections separately or collectively;
(g) If an appointed member of Election Tribunal cannot carry out his duties as a member of the tribunal or is unable to carry them out during an inquiry, the Government shall appoint a substitute member. The reconstituted Election Tribunal may make fresh inquiry of the pending objections, if it so desires.
66. while the objections in connection with elections are being heard, the tribunal, if necessary, may invite the Attorney-General and seek legal advice. If the Attorney-General is unable to come to the tribunal, he may depute a suitable person not below the rank of a Law Officer Grade I from the Attorney-General's Office to act on his behalf.
67. The Election Tribunal may decide the election of the Hluttaw representative to be void if it finds that the elected Hluttaw representative has infringed any of the following:-
(a) that it is apparent the elected Hluttaw representative received the majority votes by corrupt practice; or by inducement or the success or failure of the election is due to corrupt practice;
(b) that it is apparent corrupt practice has been committed for the benefit of the elected Hluttaw representative;
(c) that it is apparent the election is not free and fair;
(d) that it is apparent the election is not free and fair because of bribery and interference with the exercise of electoral rights, or that the success in the election is due to such acts;
(e) that it is apparent he is an individual or a member of any association in Section 10, Sub-section (e), (i), (j) or (k).
68. The Election Tribunal, in reporting that the elected representative is guilty of corrupt practice due to the acts of a person other than the election agent, and is of opinion that it is due to any of the following, it may decide that the election of the said Hluttaw representative is not void:-
(a) that the act has been committed without the consent of the Hluttaw candidate and his election agent;
(b) that the Hluttaw candidate and his election agent have prevented, to the best of their ability, corrupt practices in the election;
(c) that the corrupt practices are of trivial nature and have not affected the election
(d) that the election has been free from corrupt practices of the Hluttaw candidate and his election agent.
69. After objections have been exercised, the Election Tribunal shall report to the Government where the question arises as to whether or not the person elected as the Hluttaw representative or the person who objects and states that he himself should be declared elected, should be elected.
70. All members of the Election Tribunal shall sign and submit the report of their decision to the Government as early as possible. The Government shall issue order as reported and shall publish that report in the Burma Gazette. The order of the Government shall be final and conclusive.
71. If there is any difference of opinion among members of the Election Tribunal on the report or on any other matter concerning objections in connection with the election, the opinion of the majority shall prevail.
72. The Election Tribunal shall have all the powers of the Court in which powers under the Code of Civil Procedure are vested. It may on its own motion summon and examine any person who is in a position to give important material evidence.
73. Not contrary to the provisions of this Law, the provisions of the Evidence Act shall be deemed to apply in all respects to all matters under inquiry.
74. Any document not duly stamped or not duly registered as prescribed shall not be inadmissible as evidence.
75. In an inquiry the witness shall answer the questions in respect of the relevant issues. However,
(a) the voter shall not be questioned to reveal for whom he has voted;
(b) no witness who is compelled to answer a question shall be arrested or prosecuted or his statement be used as evidence in any criminal proceedings except for perjury.
76. The person himself or his representative or a lawyer acting on his behalf may appear before the Election Tribunal. Nevertheless, should the Election Tribunal direct him to appear in person, he shall do so accordingly.
77. The Commission and Sub-commission may obtain necessary assistance from Government organizations or other organizations and individuals.
78. Whoever carries out the duties of a member of the Commission or Sub-commission, or carries out the said duties of the Election in any capacity shall be deemed to be carrying out the duties of the State.
79. No Court has jurisdiction on the acts and decisions made by the Commission and Sub-commissions at various levels and the Election Tribunals, other than by the provisions of this Law.
80. No civil or criminal action shall be taken against the Commission and members of the Commission, Sub-commissions at various levels and their members, Election Tribunals, members of the Election Tribunals, members of the polling booth teams including polling booth officers who discharge their duties according to law in good faith and to the best of their ability.
81. The Commission is empowered to make rules, procedures, orders and directives for the successful implementation of the provisions of this Law.
82. The following Laws and Rules are repealed by this Law:-
(a) Pyithu Hluttaw and People's Councils at Different Levels Elections Law (Pyithu Hluttaw Law No. 8 of 1976).
(b) Pyithu Hluttaw and People's Councils at Different Levels Elections Rules (Pyithu Hluttaw Rules No. 7 of 1976).
Sd. -Saw Maung
General, Chairman, The State Law and Order Restoration Council
Letter from Aung Shwe, Chairman of the National League for Democracy, to Senior General Than Shwe, Chairman of the State Law and Order Restoration Council, dated 25 March 1996 (to arrange for convening of the first Pyithu Hluttaw (legislature) (official translation)
National League for Democracy
97-B West Shwegondine Road
Bahan Township, Rangoon
Date: 25 March 1996
Senior General Than Shwe
State Law and Order Restoration Council
Union of Burma
arrange for the discussion and implementation of the
Hluttaw representatives-elect for fixing a date to convene the first
Pyithu Hluttaw (Legislature)
In the Declaration No 1/88
of the State Law and Order Restoration Council
(Slorc) issued on 28 September 1988, the Slorc declared to the country that it was
designed to carry out the following as its prime duties:
Restoration of law and order, peace and
(b) Smooth and secure transportation
(c) To work at its best to make the peoples' lives easy and to ensure the undertakings
of private and cooperative sectors
(d) After having completed the above mentioned tasks, to hold multi-party general elections"
In paragraph 3 of the said Declaration 1/88, it urges that:
"In order to be ready for the general elections, party organizations that are
going to adopt a genuine democratic system may start establishing themselves."
Therefore with the intentions of an emergence of a genuine
democratic state and of a democratic government that win guarantee basic human
rights in conformity with the wishes and aspirations of the people, the National
League for Democracy (NLD) has registered itself with me Multi-Party Democracy
General Elections Commission under the Political Parties Registration Law (Law No
4/88) enacted by the Slorc on 27 September 1988 and officially stands as a political party.
In order to elect members of parliament through free and fair
democratic elections, the Slorc enacted the Pyithu Hluttaw (Legislature) Elections
Law (Law No 14/89) on 31 May 1989.
Moreover in accordance with the Pyithu Hluttaw Election Rules
Party Democracy General Elections Commission's rules No 1/89) issued by the
Multi-Party Democracy General Elections Commission on 30 June 1988, the NLD
contested the Multi-Party Democracy General Elections held on 27 May 1990.
The NLD won 392 seats out of 485 constituencies prescribed for the
Hence it has won 82 per cent of the constituencies and this proves the magnitude of
the support of the people [to the NLD].
In its Notification No. 8/96 on 1 July 1990, the Multi-Party
Elections Commission officially recognised that 87.70 per cent of the NLD's
representatives had been elected out of its 447 delegates. This again proves that it
has attained the unanimous support of the people.
However the final report of the Multi-Party
Democracy General Elections
Commission has not yet been issued. It is stated in "The Notification No. 1014 of the
Multi-Party Democracy General Elections Commission" issued on 24 March 1992 as
"... This Commission supervised the holding of the Multi-Party Democracy
General Election and this election is the first election for adoption of a multi-Party
system in the Union of Burma. The election has already been held in accordance
with the Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law and Rules. The Commission, in accordance
with the Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law and Rules, is responsible for scrutinising the
issues of elected representatives as well as of those candidates unsuccessful in the
At the Coordination Meeting
between the Union of Burma Multi-Party
Democracy General Elections Commission and Chairmen of sub-commission of
State Division and Zones, the Chairman of the Commission clearly stated the
"... We have learnt that election tribunals are finalising the issues of
examining and judging the election objections. ..."
"... The first state of scrutinising election expenses of a total of 2201 delegates
including the elected ones and the unsuccessful ones has already been completed."
Today in March 1996, the tasks of election tribunals regarding
objections as well as ejection expenses have already been completed.
The Multi-Party Democracy General Elections Commission, in sending
notifications under the title of "Notifying the Names of Elected Representatives" in
accordance with section 41, sub-section (d) of the Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law,
officially confirmed and informed the elected representatives that they are "elected
representatives of the Pyithu Hluttaw." Similarly the names of these representatives
were included in Burma Gazettes as elected Hluttaw Representatives. Hence Pyithu
Hluttaw representatives elected at the 1990 Multi-Party Democracy General Elections
are officially representatives.
In accordance with section 3 of "Chapter 2:
Formation of the Hluttaw",
"The Hluttaw shall be formed with the Hluttaw representatives who have
been elected in accordance with this Law from the Hluttaw constituencies.
The Hluttaw to be formed as such is clearly defined in sub-section (a), section
(2) of the Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law as follows:
Hluttaw means Pyithu Hluttaw
The Hluttaw now to be convened must not be the constituent assembly but it
should be the people's parliament of legislature.
In paragraph 22 of the Slorc Declaration 1/90 issued on 27 July 1990
the authorities directed all officially standing political parties to sign undertakings
to abide by the declaration on that day, it is clearly stated to the country as follows
"In section 3 of the Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law, it is provided the "The
Hluttaw shall be formed with the Hluttaw representatives who have been elected in
accordance with this Law form the Hluttaw constituencies." In accordance with this
provision, the Slorc will take care of the formation of the formation and convening
of the Hluttaw. ..."
In the 90th Press Conference of the Slorc Information Committee, it
stated again as follows:
"... In answering the question of whether there is a fixed date to convene the
first Hluttaw, it will be carried out after the elections, coordinating with elected
accordance with Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law and Rules, with
12 of the Slorc Declaration No 1/90, and with promises made at various press
conferences of the Slorc Information Committee, to implement the results of the 1990
Multi-Party Democracy General Election which was held democratically and to give
due respect to the wishes and aspirations of the people, the Pyithu Hluttaw must be
In accordance with the clarification that reads: "the Slorc will
work for the
implementation of the issued laws, orders and declarations." stated at the 97th Press
Conference of the Slorc Information Committee, only when the task of founding and
convening the Pyithu Hluttaw is promptly carried out, will it ensure its
implementation of restoration of law and order.
It has now been nearly six years since the free and fair
Democracy General Election was held. At this point, we would like to remind you
of the statement made at the 102nd Press Conference of the Slorc, that in,
"... We cannot specify a definite time to convene the Hluttaw but we have no
intention whatsoever to delay it. ..."
this statement has been carefully noted by the entire mass of people as well
as the NLD, the winning party at the election. Hence it is now necessary to convene
the Pyithu Hluttaw as soon as possible.
According to standard practices not only of Burma but also of
international community, issues of convening the legislature do not take so much
time. In accordance with the laws enacted by the Slorc, the Pyithu Hluttaw is to be
formed with the Hluttaw representatives who have been duly and unanimously
elected by the people so as to express their wishes and aspirations. There is no such
practice of neglecting the wishes and aspirations of the people even in states
exercising a single party system or an authoritarian system. Taking such a long
time to convene the Pyithu Hluttaw not only means turning a blind eye on the wishes
and aspirations of the people but also breaking the promises which the Slorc has
given to the State and its citizens.
When studying the Pyithu Hluttaw
Election Law (Law No 14/89) there is no
provision for the term of the Pyithu Hluttaw. The form is to be decided by the
Hluttaw representatives themselves after convening the Hluttaw. Therefore as long
as the Pyithu Hluttaw is not convened, the Slorc will not be able to head towards the
emergence of "a genuine democratic system" as it has promised. In respect of this
fact only the Pyithu Hluttaw, formed in accordance with the results of the previous
elections, are to enact general laws (including detailed provisions for future elections).
With reference to the facts stated above, you are hereby informed
emphasis to arrange for the discussion and implementation of the Pyithu Hluttaw
representatives-elect for fixing a date to convene the first Pyithu Hluttaw (Legislative)
as soon as possible.
By decision of the Central Committee Meeting of the NLD held on 22 March 1996
Sd/- Aung Shwe
National League for Democracy
Cyclostyled with the NLD's Temporary Cyclostyling Machine No 893
Retyped by Associates to Develop Democratic Burma. April 02, 1996
Scanned and re-formatted by Online Burma Library, 4 September 2003
Law Amending the Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law
(The State Law and Order Restoration Council Law No 10/91)
The 14th Waning Day of First Waso, 1353 M.E. (10th July, 1991)
The State Law and Order Restoration Council hereby enacts the following Law:-
1. This Law shall be called the Law Amending the Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law.
This Law shall be deemed to have
come into force with effect
from 31st May, 1989, the date on which the Pyithu Hluttaw Election
Law was enacted.
The following shall be inserted
as sub-sections (j) and (k) in section
11 of the Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law:-
(j) being convicted of an
offence relating to law and order or an
offence relating to moral turpitude as determined and declared
from time to time by the State Law and Order Restoration Council;
(k) if convicted of any offence not included in the declaration under
sub-section (j), such offence being decided by the State Law and
Order Restoration Council as an offence relating to law and
order or an offence relating to moral turpitude.
The following shall be inserted
as sections 8o-A, 8o-B, 80-C and 8o-D
in the Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law:-
80-A, A person who, having been
convicted of high treason or an offence
liable to a sentence of death or transportation for life has been
declared by the Commission as having no right to continue to be a
Hluttaw representative shall have no right to stand for election as a
Hluttaw candidate in elections to be held in future.
person who, having been convicted of any other offence with
the exception of offences under section 8o-A has been declared by the
Commission as having no right to continue to be a Hluttaw represen-
tative shall have no right to stand for election as a Hluttaw candidate
in elections to be held within 10 years from the date of being so de-
person whose election as a Hlutttaw representative has been
cided by the Election Tribunal to be void and who has been notified
by the Government, or any Hluttaw representative who, having failed to
submit election expenses as prescribed has been decided by the Elec-
tion Tribunal as disqualified and who has been declared as such by
the Commission, or an election agent shall have no right to stand for
election as a Hluttaw candidate in elections to be held within 10 years
from the date of being so declared.
Hluttaw candidate who, having failed to get elected has been
declared by the Commission as disqualified under this Law or under
Rules made hereunder, or an election agent shall have no right to
stand for election as a Hluttaw candidate in elections to be held
within 5 years from the date of being so declared.
The State Law and Order Restoration Council
from Aung Shwe, Chairman of the National League for Democracy, to
Senior General Than Shwe, Chairman of the State Law and Order
Restoration Council, dated 28 March 1996 (protest against lawless
Senior General Than Shwe
State Law and Order Restoration Council
date: 28 March 1996
Subject matter: Protect against unlawful proceedings
The primary political objectives of the State Law and Order
Council include the "prevalence of law and order" However with regard
to members of the National League for Democracy and to those associated
with the NLD, it can be seen that the actions of the authorities are not in
accordance with the law: in fact they are consistently of a lawless nature.
The following illustrate some lawless proceedings. (Details can be
in the attached appendix.)
(a) With regard to an incident
of 18-11-95. three people including U
Thein Nyunt of the NLD, were charged with obstructing an official in the
performance of his duties. Without adequate evidence each of the
defendants were meted out prison sentences of two years, the maximum
penalty allowable under the offence with which they were charged.
On 6-11-95, Ko Khin Tun who was in charge of the youth wing of
the Pegu Division NLD was arrested. From the time of his arrest until his
trial he was allowed no legal defence of any kind. Moreover he received a
heavy prison sentence of four years and three months,
On 10-1-96 four
people, including the comedian from Mandalay,
U Pa Pa Lay, were arrested. The four were subsequently charged and during
their trial on 18-3-96 no defence lawyers were allowed to be present. The
defendants were summarily sentenced to 7 years imprisonment each. The
lack of justice in the conduct of this case is made particularly obvious by
fact that obstacles were created
to prevent U Kyi Maung, U Tin U, Daw
Aung San Sun Kyi and U Win Htein from going to Mandalay to appear as
witnesses for the defence. Such conduct constitutes violation of individual
rights, it is dishonourable and moreover it is contrary to the law.
Twenty-eight men including U Win Tin. who are currently
serving long prison sentences in Insein Jail have been charged with
committing additional offences while in prison and trials have been
conducted within the jail precincts since November, To this day it has not
been permitted to provide the defendants with legal assistance.
U Saw Hlaing who was involved in a motor accident near
Taungu during the early morning of 15-396 was not only denied access to
legal assistance, he was summarily tried within the precincts of Kyungon
police station in a way contrary to existing laws and given the maximum
penalty of 5 years imprisonment. It should be noted that the section under
which he was charged does not in fact apply to his case but was deliberately
chosen for the heavy penalty it entailed.
the hundreds of long-term political prisoners twenty-eight,
including U Win Tin, Secretary of the NLD, are in the process of being retried on the
accusation that they had contravened jail regulations. During the second week of
November they were transferred to police dog cells as a form of punishment and they have
been deprived of their right to receive visitors. Some have been allowed to received food
parcels but they are not allowed to see their families.
it is known mat the trials are in process and attempts have been made
legal assistance, it has not been permitted to provide such assistance. On 26-2-96 the
families of the prisoners wrote to members of government to the Chief Justice and to the
Attorney General asking to be allowed to provide lawyers for the defence but there has
been no change in the situation.
The Motor Accident of U Saw Hlaing
At 3 a.m. on the morning of
15-3-96, the Toyota van driven by U Saw Hlaing ran
into a trishaw pedaled by Ko San Win, carrying Maung Hla Soe and Maung Thien Naing.
The Trishaw was slightly damaged and its passengers received bruises and minor injuries.
U Saw Hlaing was accompanied by
Ko Saw Ne Win, In another car were U Ba
Soe Tint and So Soe Win. All four were coming back from. Mandalay. They had gone
ahead to make necessary preparations for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's proposed trip to
Mandalay and they were on the way back (To Rangoon) because the trip had been
canceled due to the interference of the authorities,
U Saw Hlaing and his companions
carried out fully the duties required of them:
taking the injured people to (the local) hospital for medical treatment, reporting the
accident at the police station and informing the families (of the trishaw passengers) of what
had happened. While the police were in the process of preparing the case as one involving
simple injury the whole situation changed due to perceptible pressure exerted from higher
authorities. An attempt was even made to arrest both passengers travelling in the car
involved in the accident as well as the two in the accompanying car, but due to the refusal
of U Ba Soe Tint and others to submit to such illegal proceedings, and to the police
officers' decision to act in accordance with the law, only U Saw Hlaing was placed under
18-3-96 U Saw Hlaing's family and lawyers tried to get bail and to
defendant with legal assistance. However they were not permitted either to contact him or
to accompany him (to court). U Saw Hlaing was not tried in Taungu Jail. Against all legal
precedent he was taken to the Kyungon Police Station, summarily tried and sentenced to 5
years imprisonment. He was charged under section 338 (grievous injury) and the three
witnesses (the passengers of the trishaw) were forbidden to leave the hospital. One of the
witnesses had dislocated a thumb, another had cut his chin and received two stitches.
When U Saw Hlaing's family went there, those on duty (at the station) deceitfully denied
that the trial was going to take place.
would like to present a case which provides a glaring contrast with
the above. It
relates to a motor accident which took place on 6-3-94. On that day a medical student
named Maung Tut Kyaw Win* driving down the Prome Road in a Mazda 929 ran over a
university student. Tut Kyaw Win was the son of a senior officer of the armed forces and
the victim was Maung Ye Win, a final year student from the Institute of Economics.
Maung Y Win died of his injuries in hospital. As the authorities are already aware, Tut
Kyaw Win was released from prison within a few weeks. It has also been heard that
during his sojourn in jail he was provided with full facilities to enable him to take the
annual medical college examinations.
studying the cases mentioned above it can be seen that the
authorities a various
levels are perpetrating many lawless acts. The NLD regards it as its national duty to protest
against such lawless proceedings. It is only if there is equality before the law can there be
genuine progress on the political, economic and social fronts.
Therefore we urge the Chairman of the SLORC, which has assumed an
responsibilities to bring to light all lawless conduct occurring throughout the nation and to
effect rectification as soon as possible.
Chairman of the NLD
Tut Kyaw Win is
the son of Brig. Kyaw Win, at title time of the accident
Director of Defence Medical
Services, at present Ambassador to Canada
The Case of the Three including U Thein Nvunt
defendants were accused of trying to remove barbed wire
barricades placed to regulate traffic in front of Daw Aung San Sun Kyi's
house on 18-11-95, and charged under section 353, obstructing a public
servant in the performance of his duties. Although the evidence of the
witnesses for the prosecution made it clear that the said section of the law
was not applicable in this case, U Thein Nyunt, Ko Toe Aung and Ko Myo
Zaw were each given the maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment.
The Case of Ko Khin Tun (NLD Youth)
Ko Khin Tun was arrested on 6-11-95. On going to visit a friend
a sentence in Insein Jail he had
taken a photograph of the said
friend whom he saw labouring at a vegetable plot outside the jail
compound. He was charged under section 5(d) and section 42 (prison regulations act).
was not allowed any contact with his family. Although =he asked for
services of a lawyer from the time he was first tried his request was not granted
Only 70 days later, on 17-1-96. the last day of his trial, was he permitted the services
of a lawyer. On that day, the crucial evidence, the film concerned, could not be produced.
Nor was the member of the prison staff who was the principal witness for the prosecution
present for cross examination. Further, Ko Khin Tun was not given adequate opportunity
to defend himself. He was sentenced to 4 years and 3 months imprisonment.
The Case of the Four including U Pa Pa Lay
Pa Pa Lay was one of the entertainers in the "Myodaw Win
Dance Troupe" which performed at the Independence Day ceremony held
within the precincts of Daw Aung San Suu Ky's home. U Pa Pa Lay and U
Lu Zaw were accused of inciting the audience to unseemly behaviour and
harming state security by word and action and charged under section 5(e),
while U Htwe and U Aung Soe who had helped the dance troupe were
charged under section 109. On the last day when the defendants should
have been produced at court they were not taken to the court where the
trial had been taking place. They were tried within the prison and each of the defendants
were sentenced to 7 years imprisonment. No defence lawyer was allowed to be
present when sentence was passed. Moreover, the fact that obstacles were created to
prevent Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other defence witnesses who would have been
able to give evidence on the true situation (as prevailed during the Independence Day
ceremony); and that some who should have been co-defendants were used as
(prosecution) witnesses makes it very clear the proceedings were wrongfully
conducted under the law.
 Burma's military rulers announced the country's name was changed to Myanmar. That change was not decided in a process expressed by the will of the people, This report refers to Myanmar with its pre-SLORC name, Burma.
 Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar, UN Doc. A/C.3/50/L.52 (5 December 1995), paras. 8 and 10.
 This report refers to the ethnic majority people in Burma as "Burman", the diverse ethnic minority peoples as "ethnic nationalities" and the population as a whole, including the ethnic nationalities, as "Burmese."
 Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law, 31 May 1989, SLORC Law No. 14/89, attached as Annex I.
 "Full Text" of SLORC Announcement 1/90, July 27, 1990 ("Declaration 1/90"), FBIS-EAS-90-146, para. 18. The SLORC unilaterally announced in the same declaration that "the wish of the majority of political parties that contested in the multiparty democratic general elections is to draw up a new constitution." Several years later, the SLORC explained that "[t]he 1947 and 1974 constitutions emerged in accordance with the times. They cannot be applied anymore because of the changing and developing situations over the years." "Myo Nyunt Speaks at National Convention," Radio Rangoon, 2 Sept. 1994, reported in FBIS-J6AS-9JM73, 7 Sept. 1994.
 Declaration 1/90, supra note 5, para. 18. The decision to have the elected representatives draft a new constitution was inconsistent with the terms of the Election Law, supra note 4 (at Annex I), in which SLORC stated that the assembly being elected was the "Pyithu Hluttaw", a population-based parliamentary assembly that had existed as a state governing structure since independence.
 Agence France Presse, 28 May 1990 (report of statement of Kyaw San, SLORC Information Committee and quoting Colonel Ye Htut, SLORC Information Committee, saying "If we offer ideas, we'll be imposing our will on them (the elected representatives]").
 Address by Foreign Minister U Ohn Gyaw to the UN General Assembly, October 4, 1991 (copy on file with the International League for Human Rights)
 South China Morning Post, 11 Sept. 1991
 "Myanmar's junta plans referendum on constitution," 4 Dec. 1994, Kyodo News International, Inc., Asian Political News, reporting statement of National Planning and Economic Development Minister Brigadier General David Abel, 2 Dec. 1994, Yangon, to 24 Japanese businessmen.
 See Letter of 25 March 1996 to Senior General Than Shwe, SLORC Chairman, from Aung Shwe, NLD Chairman, ("NLD Request"), attached as Annex II.
 See, e.g., Report on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, prepared by Mr. Yozo Yokota, Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, in accordance with Commission resolution 1995/72, UN Doc. No. E/CN.4/1996/65 (5 February 1996)("UNCHR 1996 Report), para. 177 (one in seven National Convention delegates are elected MPs); "Suu Kyi blasts junta's constitution," United Press International, 22 Nov. 1995, reported on BurmaNet, 23 Nov. 1995.
 As of January 1996, the number of delegates remaining at the Convention after the NLD expulsion was 590. E.g., "National Convention Plenary Session Continues", Radio Rangoon, 29 Nov. 1995 reported in FBIS-EAS-95-229 Nov. 29, 1995; "Plenary Session Continues 9 Jan," TV Myanmar, 9 Jan. 1996, reported in FBIS-EAS-96-012, 9 Jan. 1996; "Reports on judiciary chapter of constitution presented at National Convention, Radio Rangoon, 17 Jan. 1996 reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts Jan 19, 1996. Since the expelled NLD delegates numbered 86, the total number of delegates before the expulsion was 676 (590 + 86), reflecting a 26-member attrition from the starting figure of 702. Before the expulsion, the number of elected delegates was 15.24 percent of the total or, in all, 103 (15 percent of 676). E.g., Deborah Charles, "Burma opposition pulls out of constitutional talks," Reuters News Service, 29 Nov. 1995; "Suu Kyi blasts junta's constitution," United Press International, 22 Nov. 1995 (quoting figure given by Aung San Suu Kyi). Following the expulsion, only 17 elected delegates remained at the Convention, including representatives from the NUP. the military party. The composition of the 1996 Convention thus bears a ratio of all delegates (590) to elected delegates (17) of 34.7 to 1. or 2.88% elected delegates. As of this writing, the total eligible delegates appears to have decreased to 586 and it is not clear whether the four newly dismissed delegates were elected MPs or other delegates. See "National Convention delegates hear proposals on judiciary," TV Myanmar, 30 Mar. 1996, reported by BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 1 April 1996.
 Letter from U Aung Shwe to U Aung Toe dated 27 Nov. 1995 (copy available at the International League for Human Rights).
 "Burma: Committee Expels 86 Opposition Delegates from National Convention," Radio Myanmar, Rangoon, 30 Nov. 1995, reported by BBC Summary of World Broadcasts.
 See supra note 5 and accompanying text.
 See "The Observations of the National League for Democracy on the National Convention," Aung San Suu Kyi - Press conference Statement, 22 Nov. 1995 reported in "NLD's Suu Kyi Issues Statement on Convention, BurmaNet News, 23 Nov. 95, reported in FBIS-EAS-95-227, 23 Nov. 1995.
 Marcia Phu, "More Reportage on NLD Boycott of Convention -- NLD Leaders Explain Boycott", BBC Burmese Service, reported in FBIS-EAS-95-230, 30 Nov. 1995 (words of Aung Shwe).
 Id. (words of Aung San Suu Kyi).
 New Light of Myanmar, 29 Nov. 1995, at 6.
 Deborah Charles, "Burma Generals Spurn Suu Kyi's Concerns," 6 Dec. 1995, reported by Reuters News Service, 7 Dec. 1995. For a discussion of the crackdown on NLD activists and supporters generally, see the discussion infra at sec. II(C).
 "Burma: Burmaese (sic) Military Issues Warning to Suu Kyi," ReutersNews Service, 5 Dec. 1995, reporting on government media, New Light of Myanmar and Mirror Daily articles.
 See discussion in Janelle Diller, "Constitutional Reform in a Repressive State: The Case of Burma, Asian Survey. Vol. XXXIII, No. 4, 393, 400 (April 1993).
 Id. at n. 22 and accompanying text.
 Id. at n. 21 and accompanying text.
 Report on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, prepared by the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Yozo Yokota, in accordance with Commission resolution 1994/85, U.N. Doc. No. E/CN.4/1 995/65 (12 Jan. 1995) ("UNCHR 1995 Report"), paras. 137-40.
 e.g., "SLORC Restrictions on Delegates to the National Convention," excerpts (unofficial translation on file with the International League for Human Rights) ("Convention Restrictions"). See also Janelle Diller, "The National Convention: Lessons from the Past and Steps to the Future," Burma Debate. Vol. I, No. 2 (Oct./Nov. 1994) ("Lessons"), at 6.
 Convention Restrictions, supra note 28, sec. 29(b).
 E.g., New Light of Myanmar, 5 Aug. 1993 (Aung Khin Sint charged); "U.N. Investigator Visits Leading Burmese Political Prisoner," Associated Press, 14 Nov. 1993 (Aung Khin Sint sentenced).
 "Minister Addresses National Convention Opening," TV Myanmar, 28 Nov. 95, reported in FBIS-EAS-95-229, 29 Nov 95 (emphasis supplied).
 "Senior Politicians Urge Rangoon-Suu Kyi Talks," BurmaNet News, 29 Dec. 1995, reprinted in FBIS-EAS-96-001, 2 Jan. 1996.
 "Politicians Threatened Over Dialogue Letter," BurmaNet News, 20 Jan. 1996, reprinted in FBIS-EAS-96-018, 26 Jan. 1996 (reporting on a meeting with the 23 held on 26 Nov. 1995).
 "An Appeal for National Reconciliation," signed by Khun Tun Oo, SNLD Chairman, to Senior-General Than Shwe, SLORC Chairman, and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, NLD General Secretary, dated 26 Nov. 1995 (unofficial translation) (copy on file with the International League for Human Rights).
 See, e.g., "Burmese Junta Making Progress," Tokyo Kyodo 8 Nov. 1995, reported in FBIS-EAS 95-216, 8 Nov. 1995 (Japanese Foreign Minister Yasuo Fukuda urging Dialogue and stating renewal of aid on a case by case basis).
 U.N. Doc. No. A/C.3/50/L.52 (5 December 1995), para. 6; accord Comm'n H. Rts. Res. 1995/72, UN Doc. No. E/CN.4/1995/L.11/Add.5 (9 March 1995), para. 5 (urging the government to open a substantial political dialogue with [Aung San Suu Kyi] and with other political leaders, including representatives of ethnic groups, as the best means to arrive at national reconciliation and the complete and rapid installation of democracy).
 The satire resulted in the arrest, charging, and conviction of four NLD activists -- two comedians and two NLD organizers. "Court Jails Four for Disrespect to Junta," Radio Australia, 20 Mar. 1996, reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 21 Mar. 1996. See the discussion infra at II(C).
 Eight NLD members said held for lampooning Burma junta," Agence France Presse, 10 Jan. 1996
 "Suu Kyi: Arrest of 3 Party Members 'Injustice' -- Increases Public Criticism", interview with Evan Williams, Melbourne Radio Australia, 9 Nov. 1995
 NLD Request, supra note 9, at Annex II, paras. 6-11 (citing to Election Commission Notification Nos. 896 (1 July 1990) and 1014 (24 Mar. 1992), unspecified Election Commission notifications entitled "Notifying the Names of Elected Representatives" pursuant to Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law, sec. 41(d), and publication of names of elected representatives in unspecified editions of Burma (Government) Gazette). Accord "Myanmar Election Commission to Take Action Against Parliamentary Candidates," Xinhua News Agency, 25 Mar. 1992 (report on 2201 of 2296 candidates issued by Election Commission). By law, the Election Commission is obligated to submit a final report after reviewing all expense reports of candidates and other technical matters. See e.g., Pyithu Hluttaw Election Rules, Election Commission Rules No. 1/89, Chap. XIII (procedure for reporting and reviewing of expenses of candidates declared to be elected); "Myanmar Slorc Vice-Chairman on Transfer of Power," Xinhua News Agency, 8 Mar. 1991 (Than Shwe speech); "Election Commission Explains Work on Final Report," Radio Rangoon on Announcement No. 966 of the Election Commission, 16 Sept. 1991, reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 24 Sept. 1991.
 Of the 485 total, 479 winners came from 27 parties respectively; six other winners ran on independent tickets. "Official Election Statistics," Burma Broadcasting System, 30 June 1990, reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 2 July 1990 (reporting SLORC-announced results).
 More MPs may lose their seats if irregularities are found in expense accounts of another 85 NLD MPs. See discussion supra at note 37 and accompanying text, and David Brunnstrom, "Burma Junta Jails Dissidents, Moves on Opposition," ReutersNews Service, 14 Oct. 1992
 The Commission's authority to nullify elected status is found in Section 11 of the Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law, which governed the 1990 elections (see Annex I), as amended by the Law Amending the Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law, SLORC Law No. 10/91 (10 July 1991), published in Working People's Daily, Vol. XXVIII, No. 192, 11 July 1991, at 1, attached as Annex III. For discussion of the nullification of elected status, see "Status of Five NLD MPs Revoked for Rebel Links," Radio Rangoon, 21 Apr. 1992, reported in FBIS-EAS-92-080, 24 Apr. 1992; "Four More NLD MPs' Status Revoked by Regime," Radio Rangoon, 11 April 1992, reported in FBIS-EAS-92-017, 13 April 1992; "Commission Revokes Status of Four NLD MPs," Radio Rangoon, 9 April 1992, reported in FBIS-EAS-92-070; "Status of NLD MP from Magwe revoked," Radio Rangoon, 19 Feb. 1992, reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 21 Feb. 1992; "More Removals Announced, Radio Rangoon, 9 Jan. 1992, reported in FBIS-EAS-92-007, 10 Jan. 1992; "Commission Revokes Status of More NLD Mps," Radio Rangoon, 6 Jan. 1992, reported in FBIS-EAS-92-004, 7 Jan. 1992; "Commission Revokes Status of More NLD Mps," Radio Rangoon, 2 Jan. 1992, reported in FBIS-EAS-92-003,6 Jan. 1992; "Status of 5 Elected Mps Revoked by Commission, Radio Rangoon, 27 Dec. 1991, reported in FBIS-EAS-91-251, 31 Dec. 1991; "Commission Revokes Status of More Elected MP's, Radio Rangoon, 30 Dec. 1991, reported in FBIS-EAS-92-251, 31 Dec. 1991; "Elected Opposition Members of Parliament Have Status Revoked," 23 Dec. 1991, reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 30 Dec. 1991; "National League for Democracy Mps' Status Revoked by Government Commission," Radio Rangoon, 18 Dec. 1991, reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 23 Dec. 1991; "Commission Revokes Status of Five NLD Officials, Radio Rangoon, 18 Dec. 1991, reported in FBIS-EAS-91-244, 19 Dec. 1991; "National League for Democracy MP's status annulled," Radio Rangoon, 12 Dec. 1991, reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 16 Dec. 1991; "Five NLD Assembly Representatives Suspended," Radio Rangoon, 10 Dec. 1991, reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 12 Dec. 1991; "Commission Revokes Status of Three NLD Members," Radio Rangoon, 25 Nov. 1991, reported in FBIS-EAS-91-228,26 Nov. 1991; "Two NLD Representatives Disqualified," Radio Rangoon, 14 Aug. 1991, reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 21 Aug. 1991; "'Parallel Government' Members Stripped of People's Assembly Member Status," Radio Rangoon, 30 Apr. 1991, reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 2 May, 1991; "Commission Cancels Status of Five Representatives," Radio Rangoon, 22 Feb. 1991, reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 22 Feb. 1991; "People's Assembly Status of Parallel Government Members Annulled," Radio Rangoon, 26 Dec. 1990, reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasting, 28 Dec. 1990.
 See generally id.
 "Aung San Suu Kyi barred from Burmese Election," Reuters Library Report, 17 Jan. 1990.
 The Burma Code, Vol. VIII, chap. VI, sec. 122(1).
 Amnesty International, "Myanmar: Human rights after seven years of military rule," Oct. 1995 ("Seven Years"), at 17.
 Emergency Provisions Act of 1950, sec. 5(e) as quoted in Inter-Parliamentary Union, Resolution adopted without a vote by the Inter-Parliamentary Council at its 157th session (Bucharest, 14 October 1995), and sec. 5(j), as quoted in Seven Years, supra note 47, at 12 (respectively).
 Law Amending the Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law, supra note 43, sections 80-A - 80-D (see Annex III).
 The permanent ban on running in future elections was based on section 80-A of the Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law amended in 1991 (see Annex III).
 The 10-year ban was based on section 80-B of the Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law as amended in 1991 (see Annex III).
 See supra note 49
 SLORC announced the eight deaths about 18 months after the election. "82 Parliament Representatives Declared as Disqualified in Myanmar," Xinhua News Agency, 14 Jan. 1992
 "NLD representative dies; struck off elected members list," Radio Rangoon, 31 Jan. 1991, reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 2 Feb. 1991 (announcing death of Tin Maung Win).
 See "Election Commission Notes Candidature Situation," Radio Rangoon, 23 Feb. 1990, reported in FBIS-EAS-90-038, 26 Feb. 1990 (93 parties); "Chairman addresses opening session of National Convention," TV Myanmar, 28 Nov. 1995, reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 30 Nov. 1995.
 The Political Party Registration Law issued by the SLORC in 1988 provides only five reasons for the Commission to revoke the registration of a political party. De-registration is authorized if a political party is (1) illegal under domestic laws, (2) engages in violent conflict against the state, (2) gets assistance from a foreign entity, (4) makes use of religion for political gain, or (5) has as members personnel, including from the Defense Services, who earn salaries from state funds. "Political Party Registration Law Enacted," Radio Rangoon, 27 Sept. 1988, reprinted in FBIS-EAS-88-188, paras. 6 and 3(A)-(F). The reference to illegality under domestic law appears vague and susceptible to abuse of discretion in application.
 "SLORC Abolishes Nine More Political Parties," Radio Rangoon, 11 March 1992, reported in FBIS-EAS-92-050, 13 March 1992.
 "SLORC Issues Order Abolishing 17 Minor Parties," Radio Rangoon, 2 Feb. 1992, reported in FBIS-EAS-92-025, 6 Feb. 1992 (reporting on SLORC Order 4/92 de-registering parties as unable to form at least 10 party organizations); "Government Abolishes Nine Minor Parties," Radio Rangoon, 22 Jan. 1992, reported in FBIS-EAS-92-015, 23 Jan. 1992 (reporting on SLORC Order 2/92 de-registering parties because no members elected and for "not presenting organizational standing"). See also "Patriotic Youth Organization de-registered," Radio Rangoon, 17 Mar. 1992, reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 20 Mar. 1992 (reporting on Election Commission Announcement 926 de-registering party because "student members wish to return to school").
 See, e.g., UNCHR 1995 Report, supra note 27, para. 136; "Party Leaders' Proposals for Composition of National Convention," Radio Rangoon, 30 June 1992, reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 4 July 1992. Indeed, the three parties which won no seats in the election even have representatives in the National Convention. UNCHR 1996 Report, supra note 13, para. 148.
 UNCHR 1996 report, supra note 13, paras. 128, 133.
 See. e.g., id., para. 130.
 See, e.g., id., paras. 128, 131
 Id., paras. 61, 129.
 Three Jailed After Protest at Suu Kyi's House," Melbourne Radio Australia, 23 Nov. 1995, reported in FBIS-EAS-95-226, 24 Nov. 1995. See discussion infra regarding "NLD Protest" letter.
 "Opposition, Gathering at Suu Kyi Home Denounced," Radio Rangoon, 11 Dec. 1995, reported in FBIS-EAS-95-237, 11 Dec. 1995.
 See, e.g., "Aung San Suu Kyi Rejects Convention Set-Up, Hong Kong Agence France Presse, 22 Nov. 1995, reported in FBIS-EAS-95-225, 22 Nov. 1995; "Myanmar -- The Sound of Silence," Asiaweek, 27 Oct. 1995 ("election commission reportedly rejected the NLD's new line-up); "Slorc rules party leadership role for Suu Kyi is illegal," Associated Press, reported in The (Bangkok) Nation, 24 Oct. 1995.
 Statement of U Daniel Aung, Presidium Member Representing Political Parties Bloc at the National Convention, 26 May 1994 (copy on file with the International League for Human Rights).
 See discussion supra: UNCHR 1996 Report, supra note 13; Inter-Parliamentary Union, Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, Myanmar, decision adopted at its 72nd session (Geneva, 22-25 Jan. 1996).
 UNCHR 1996 Report, supra note 13, paras. 93-4 (hundreds of political prisoners); "Seven Years," supra note 47, Summary, at 1 ("thousands of political prisoners").
 See generally discussion in "Seven Years," supra note 47, at 11-16; Amnesty International, Union of Myanmar (Burma), Arrests and trials of political prisoners, January-July 1991," Dec. 1991.
 The NLD's "Protest against lawless proceedings" documents four incidents in which 37 NLD activists and supporters have been unfairly charged and/or sentenced, almost all without defence lawyers allowed and some in absentia. "Protest against lawless proceedings." letter by Aung Shwe, NLD Chairman, to Senior General Than Shwe, SLORC Chairman, dated 28 March 1996 ("NLD Protest") (attached as Annex IV). See also UNCHR 1996 Report, supra note 13, paras. 93-105; "Court Jails Four for Disrespect to Junta," Radio Australia, 20 Mar. 1996, reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 21 Mar. 1996 (arrest and sentencing of NLD entertainers for criticism of SLORC).
 NLD Protest, supra note 72, Annex IV, at 1 and Appendix; "Burmese activist jailed for 5 years for dangerous driving," Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 1 April 1996; "Suu Kyi" No justice in Burma," United Press International, 1 April 1996.
 "Burmese activist jailed for 5 years," supra note 73.
 Compare principles presented in the opening speech given by Convention Chairman U Aung Toe to Convention delegates in 1993, discussed infra this section, with principles adopted by the Convention and recorded in the report presented by Chairman Aung Toe to the Convention delegates in 1994, discussed infra this section.
 The objective of a "leading role for the military" is one of six fundamental Convention objectives, among them promotion of a genuine multi-party democratic system, and promotion of universal principles of justice, liberty and equality. E.g., Radio Rangoon, 13 Sept. 1993 reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 21 Sept. 1993 ("Aung Toe Speech") (relaying text of speech by Convention Chairman Aung Toe at plenary session of National Convention in which the Chairman summarized 33 sets of principles "prescribed by the National Convention Coordinating Work Committee as basic Ps on which fundamental Ps of state should be based), Sections II(4)-(6). A corollary principle prescribed that the [djefence services have the main responsibility to ensure the non-disintegration of the union, the non-disintegration of national unity and the perpetuation of national sovereignty as well as to defend and safeguard the state responsibility. Id., Sections X(5)-(6).
 "SNLD Report at National Convention Noted," New Light of Myanmar, 23 Dec. 1995 at 3.
 See discussion infra and "SLORC Tries to Bar Suu Kyi from Office," Bangkok Post, 30 March 1996 ("SLORC Bar") (reporting approval of appointed seats for military in parliament).
 Philip Shenon, "Army Wants Permanent Role in Burma Rule," Int'l Herald Trib., 17 July 1995 quoting "Destiny of the Nation" in New Light of Myanmar, 22 July 1995.
 Aung Toe Speech, supra note 76, Secs. XXIX(2)-(3).
 E.g., "SLORC Bar," supra note 78; "Burma's Democracy Party Seeks House Session," Reuters News Service, 29 March 1996 ("Burma's Democracy Party") (reports of adoption of Convention guidelines on executive, legislature and judiciary).
 "U Aung Toe report to National Convention, Part IV Radio Rangoon, 2-5 Sept. 1994, reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 23 Sept. 1994 ("Aung Toe Report IV"). A December 1995 SNLD proposal revisited earlier issues, requesting for example that the central legislature be vested with legislative power over common affairs, and region and state legislative bodies be vested with all remaining legislative power. SNLD Report, supra note 77.
 The formula prescribes self-administered areas for ethnic nationalities other than those which already have state status (either as a region or state) and if they have the appropriate population and have existed as a united group in two contiguous territories. See "Aung Toe Speech," supra note 73, Principle IV(5) and "U Aung Toe's report to National Convention, Part I," Radio Burma, Rangoon, 2-5 Sept. 1994, reported by BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 19 Sept. 1994 ("Aung Toe Report I") (announcing SLORC decisions on denials at opening speech of plenary session of National Convention on 2nd Sept. 1994 based on unspecified data gathered by the Immigration and Manpower Dept. dated 15th Aug. 1994). See also "Lessons," supra note 28, at 8-9.
 See "Lessons," supra note 28 at 8 (discussing, among other responses, SNLD concern over the chief executive becoming a dictator). As recently as December 1995, the Lahu National Development Party representative, U Kya Shi, voiced his party's opinion that, "[t]he President of the State, although being the Head of Sate, the highest organ of the sovereign powers in the nation is the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw [which should have the right to criticise and discuss the President's nomination of an Attorney General]." "Delegate groups submit proposal papers on "The Executive"," New Light of Myanmar, 12 Dec. 1995, at 3. According to a reliable source, even the National Unity Party, which received backing from the SLORC in the 1990 elections, opposed the presidential system.
 "U Aung Toe's Report to National Convention, Part III," Radio Burma, Rangoon, 2-5 Sept. 1994 reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 22 Sept. 1994 ("Aung Toe Report III"), at para. 7.
 "Special Supplement; Burma National Convention," TV Myanmar, 18 Jan. 1994, reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 24 Jan. 1994 at paras. 26-31. See also "SLORC Bar," supra note 78.
 The electoral college consists of three groups: MPs from the house of equal representation, MPs from the house based on population, and defense service members nominated by the Commander in Chief to the two chambers of parliament. See Aung Toe Speech, supra note 76, sec. V(2), and discussion in "Lessons," supra note 28, at 8.
 See Aung Toe Speech, supra note 76, sec. VIII(3) and Aung Toe Report III, supra note 85
 "U Aung Toe's report to the National Convention, Part V", Radio Rangoon, 2-5 Sept. 1994, reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 24 Sept. 1994 ("Aung Toe Report V"), Sec. I. Even at the Yangon City Council, the union president is to appoint military personnel nominated by the Commander in Chief to "integrate and coordinate security responsibilities." Aung Toe Report IV, supra note 83, at para. 21.
 Aung Toe Report III, supra note 85, at para. 7.
 See discussion supra.
 See "SLORC Bar," supra note 78; "Burma's Democracy Party," supra note 81.
 The SLORC Convention maintained the central legislature, known as Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, as a bicameral assembly composed of a body based on population, the Pyithu Hluttaw, and a traditionally weaker body based on equal representation, the Amyotha Hluttaw. "U Aung Toe report to National Convention, Part II," Radio Rangoon, 2-5 Sept. 1994, reported in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 21 Sept. 1994 ("Aung Toe Report II").
 Aung Toe report II, supra note 93, para. 12. See also Aung Toe Speech, supra note 79, sec. VII(4).
 "SLORC Bar," supra note 78. In an innovative but unsuccessful suggestion in December 1995, the SNLD proposed that military nominees by the Commander in Chief have the right to stand election in the constituencies of the union, region and state hluttaws. Under the SNLD proposal, if the serviceman is elected, he can participate as a Hluttaw representatives; if not, he can return to military ranks. SNLD Report, supra note 77.
 Aung Toe Report II, supra note 93, para. 12.
 Compare Aung Toe Report II, supra note 93 with Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law, supra note 4 at Annex I, chap. 5.
 See Pyithu Hluttaw Election Law, at Annex I, chap. V, sec. 9(1).
 Aung Toe Report V, supra note 89, para. 6.
 Aung Toe Speech, supra note 76, sees. XI(9) and XXIV(7).
 See, e.g., UNCHR 1996 Report, supra note 13, paras. 163.
 Id., sec. XI(6).
 "Government Supporters Hold Anti-opposition Rallies," Melbourne Radio Australia, 10 Dec. 1995.
 Bertil Lintner, "'The Generals' New Clothes': Junta sets up new civilian front organization," Far Eastern Economic Review, 25 Nov. 1993, at 30 (likening the USDA to Indonesia's ruling Golkar party).
 Statement of U Tin Kyaw Hlaing, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations, at the 50th session of the Commission on Human Rights, Geneva, 7 Mar. 1994.
 "Than Shwe links SLORC's goals with USDA objectives," Rangoon Radio, 29 Aug. 1994, reported in FBIS EAS 94-169, 29 Aug. 1994 (speech of SLORC Chairman Senior Gen Than Shwe to USDA executives management course, referring to trainees as the "hard core forces of the association").
 Myanmar TV broadcast, 7 Mar. 1994, quoted in Amnesty International, "Myanmar: Human Rights Still Denied," Nov. 1994
 "Myo Nyunt speech," Rangoon Radio, 6 Dec. 1995, reported in FBIS-EAS-95-235. The SLORC had earlier recorded that four million people participated in public rallies held in 26 major towns in January 1994. "Minister Addresses National Convention Opening," TV Myanmar, 28 Nov. 95, reported in FBIS-EAS-95-229, 29 Nov 95 (speech of Myo Nyunt at opening Convention session). After the NLD expulsion from the Convention, SLORC reported 11 rallies nation-wide supporting the exercise with attendance ranging from about 10,000 to 16,000. "Rallies Supporting National Convention Reported," reported in FBIS-EAS-95-247, 26 Dec. 1995.
 "Thousands forced to attend junta's rallies," ReutersNews Service, reported in Bangkok Post, 29 Jan. 1994. Accord Statement of U Daniel Aung, Presidium Member Representing Political parties Bloc at the SLORC National Convention, dated May 26, 1994 (copy on file with the International League for Human Rights).
 "NLD in 'Liberated Area' Denounces Rallies, FBIS-EAS-95-238, 6 Dec. 1995, reported on BurmaNet News, 12 Dec. 1995.
 E.g.,"Nationwide Rallies Support National Convention", New Light of Myanmar, 10 Dec. 1995 (rally of 120,000 on 9 Dec. 1995 and five separate rallies totalling 134,000 in Taunggyi, Bago, Katha, Pyapon and Thayet).
 "Burmese government-sponsroed rallies condemn Aung San Suu Kyi," Agence France Presse, 26 Feb. 1996, quoting New Light of Myanmar regarding mass rally in southwestern Arakan State.
 According to the UN Secretary General, a democratization process is a process by which "an authoritarian society becomes increasingly participatory through such mechanisms as periodic elections to representative bodies, the accountability of public officials, a transparent public administration, an independent judiciary and a free press." A pre-condition to such process includes the "ability ... to associate freely and form political parties or movements, thus allowing a multiparty system or coalitions of parties and movements to develop; and ... to enjoy full access to information . . ." Report of the Secretary-General, Support by the United Nations System of the Efforts of Governments to Promote and Consolidate New or Restored Democracies," UN Doc. A/50/332 (7 August 1995), paras. 6 and 12 (in pertinent part).
 Id., para. 125
 Id., para. 13.
 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, UN Doc. No. A/CONF/157/23, sec. 1(8). In the same paragraph, Burma agreed that "[democracy is based on the freely expressed will of the people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives. In the context of the above, the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels should be universal and conducted without conditions attached."
 UN Charter, 26 June 1945, 59 Stat. 1031, T.S. No. 993, art. 55(c). See also UN Charter, art. 1(3).
 Ian Brownlie, Principles of Public International Law (4th ed. 1990), at 570-71 and note 76. Customary legal norms are binding on all states that fail to persistently object to the norms during their development. Id., at 10. The customary norms reflected in the Declaration include, for example, the right to freedom from torture and a systematic pattern of other gross violations. E.g., American Law Institute, Restatement Third of Foreign Relations Law, sec. 702 (3d ed.). Far from objecting to these norms, Burma continues to deny that violations of the norms are taking place.
 Among other violations, Part II of this report documents violations of the right to enjoy human rights free from discrimination (UDHR, art. 2), the right to life and freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (UDHR, arts. 3, 4), the right to equal protection of the law (UDHR, art. 7), the right to be free from arbitrary arrest and detention (UDHR, art. 9), the right in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal (UDHR, art. 10), the right to freedom from retroactive penalties (UDHR, art. 11), the right to freedom of movement (UDHR, art. 13), the right to freedom of thought, opinion and expression (UDHR, arts. 18 and 19), the right to peaceful assembly and association (UDHR, art. 20(1)), the right to an adequate standard of living, including social security (UDHR arts. 22 and 25), the right to work for just remuneration and to free choice of employment (UDHR, art. 23), and the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community (UDHR, art. 27). Other rights violated follow in the text discussion.
 UDHR, art. 20(3)
 The Convention on the Political Rights of Women, UN Doc. A/RES/640 (VII), 20 December 1952. As a signatory, Burma has a good faith obligation to respect the terms of that treaty. Burma is not a party to the human rights treaties prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race and gender.
 Convention on the Political Rights of Women, arts. II and III [in pertinent part].
 GA Res. 43/157, 8 December 1988, discussed in United Nations action in the field of human rights, UN Doc. ST/HR/2/Rev. 4, Sales No. E.94.XIV.11 (1994), para. 1117.
 The de facto exclusion of women from political posts in Burma is apparent in the composition of the National Convention. Although there is no known bar of women from the National Convention, no source known to this author cites information revealing the presence of women delegates at the Convention.
 E.g., UN Charter, arts. 1(3) and 55; Universal Declaration, art. 2; Convention on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. A/RES/44/25, 20 November 1989, art. 2.
 See, e.g.. Children's Convention, art. 28 and Universal Declaration, articles 2 and 26. Under Article 28 of the Children's Convention, Burma "recognize[d] the right of the child to education, and ... to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity."