TITLE:  BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                       


DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994






Burma is ruled by a highly authoritarian, military regime that

has been condemned for its serious human rights abuses. 

Heading the latest version of a military dictatorship that has

presided over the country with an unyielding grip for more than

three decades is the State Law and Order Restoration Council

(SLORC), which took power in September 1988 after harshly

suppressing massive prodemocracy demonstrations.  Longtime

dictator General Ne Win, whose policies had pushed Burma to the

margins of the international community and driven the country

into a deep economic decline, resigned shortly before SLORC's

emergence.  Nevertheless, he continued to wield the power

behind the scenes. 


The SLORC, headed by the armed forces commander and composed of

senior military officers, permitted a relatively free election

in 1990.  However, it failed to honor the results--which were

an overwhelming rejection of military rule--or to cede power to

the victorious party headed by prodemocracy movement leaders. 

Instead, the SLORC attacked the coalition of winning political

parties through detentions, house arrests, and intimidation.


Since General Than Shwe became Chief of State in April 1992,

the SLORC has taken some modest steps to lessen its harsh rule,

including reopening the universities and releasing over 2,000

political prisoners.  In January 1993, the SLORC inaugurated a

national convention to begin work on a new constitution. 

However, SLORC officials stage-managed the proceedings and

overrode even limited opposition, interrogating and harassing

delegates who attempted to deviate from the regime's position,

and even sentenced one prodemocracy delegate to 20 years in

prison for distributing information critical of the convention

proceedings.  It seems clear that the SLORC's domination of the

convention, which has no mandate from the people, is to ensure

adoption of a constitutional blueprint effectively guaranteeing

the military's continued hold on power.


The Government reinforces its rule via a pervasive security

apparatus led by the Directorate of Defense Services

Intelligence (DDSI) and the National Intelligence Bureau

(NIB).  Control is buttressed by restrictions on contact with

foreigners; surveillance of government employees and private

citizens; and arrests, detentions, harassment, intimidation,

and mistreatment of political activists.  The Government

justifies its security measures as necessary to maintain order

and national unity, although several longstanding insurgent

groups have reached accommodations with the SLORC in recent

years and the others pose little threat to major population



Burma is primarily an agricultural country, although it also

has substantial mineral, fishing, and timber resources.  After

Ne Win's 26-year rule reduced southeast Asia's richest land to

a U.N.-designated "least developed country," the SLORC

abandoned the "Burmese Way to Socialism" in 1988, opening up

the economy to permit private sector expansion and attract

investment and badly needed foreign exchange, which has

resulted in a limited improvement in the economy.  The

Government has hindered development of the private sector,

however, by failing to address fundamental problems: 

restrictions on private commerce; constantly changing rules and

regulations; overcentralized decision making; a bloated

bureaucracy; a greatly overvalued currency; poor civilian

infrastructure; and grossly disproportionate military spending.


There was no marked increase in the level of human rights

abuses in 1993, in large measure because the SLORC had already

been so successful in intimidating the Burmese people.  At the

same time, Burmese authorities took only limited steps to

correct longstanding, serious human rights violations.  The

Government's use of forced labor--especially as porters for the

army--as well as forced resettlement of civilians continued,

causing hundreds of deaths due to disease, harsh treatment, and

overwork.  Five hundred or more Burmese remained in prison for

political reasons, including more than 40 parliamentarians

elected in 1990; approximately 200,000 Rohingyas (Burmese

Muslims from Arakan State) remained in refugee camps in

Bangladesh; a few thousand students and dissidents continued as

exiles in Thailand; and roughly 71,000 Burmese live in ethnic

minority camps in Thailand near the Burma border.


Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi remained under house arrest,

her fifth year of detention by the SLORC, without being charged

or having access to legal proceedings.  The SLORC persisted in

denying basic freedom of speech and assembly, and arbitrary

intrusions into private life remained pervasive.  In a closed

trial, in October, the regime sentenced 12 dissidents,

including one of the delegates to the National Convention, to

20 years in prison for distributing anti-SLORC information.


The SLORC ignored a comprehensive resolution on Burma adopted

by consensus in 1993 at the U.N. Human Rights Commission

(UNHRC) calling for an end to human rights violations in Burma,

the unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all other

political prisoners, and the implementation of the 1990



On the positive side, the SLORC commuted all death sentences

handed down since it took power; released over 700 persons

believed to be political prisoners; permitted the first-ever

meetings between political prisoners and foreign visitors; and

allowed additional family visits to Aung San Suu Kyi.  Over

50,000 Rohingyas returned to Arakan State in 1993, and the

Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding in November

with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) providing

for a presence in Arakan State to monitor the repatriation and

reintegration of Rohingyas from Bangladesh.


Nonetheless, on balance, in view of the persistent abuses by

the SLORC, including its use of forced labor, its wholesale

denial of basic political rights, and blatant manipulation of

the national convention, Burma must continue to be judged a

serious violator of international human rights norms.  The

expressions of deep concern by the international community

about the human rights situation in Burma in successive

resolutions adopted since 1991 by the UNHCR and the U.N.

General Assembly have failed thus far to have an appreciable

impact on the SLORC's behavior.




Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including

           Freedom from:


     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing


Although secret, extrajudicial killings reportedly were carried

out in recent years, there were no such reports in 1993.  As in

the past, credible sources reported many deaths among those

impressed for forced labor projects and porterage.


There were no confirmed incidents of summary executions of

civilians in 1993.  In late February, U Win Ko, a deputy-elect

of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and finance minister

in the opposition National Coalition Government of the Union of

Burma (NCGUB), was murdered in Kunming, China.  Burmese

authorities have denied any involvement, and independent

sources suggest other parties were responsible.  U Hla Pe, who

served as the NCGUB's Minister of Education and Health and

Minister of Information, was murdered in Bangkok in mid-June. 

There is, however, no evidence as to the perpetrators.



     b.  Disappearance


The number of disappearances in 1993 was probably little

changed from the previous year, but accurate estimates are

impossible since the Government will not provide information on

these cases.  Family and friends assume that those who have

disappeared are under detention or have died in jail.  Family

members can generally determine that relatives have been

arrested, but the process of obtaining information can take a

long time.  Some who disappeared were later reported as

arrested.  Others may have dropped out of sight or quietly

attempted to leave the country for fear of arrest.


Authorities rarely responded to inquiries from families

concerning the whereabouts and welfare of disappeared or jailed

relatives.  The few replies routinely consisted of only general

statements that such people were arrested for violations of

existing laws.


     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading

         Treatment or Punishment


Fragmentary evidence documents that mistreatment of political

detainees continued to take place in Burmese prisons and

detention centers operated by the security services.  There has

been a decline in the number of detentions, during which the

worst abuse reportedly occurs.  Political detainees are held

incommunicado, with family or lawyers unable to visit during

what can be a protracted pretrial period.  The most common

forms of maltreatment during this period were sleep and food

deprivation coupled with round-the-clock interrogation.


In recent years, severe beatings and forcing prisoners to squat

or assume unnatural positions for lengthy periods have also

been reported, and techniques designed to intimidate and

disorient prisoners prior to interrogation have been routine. 

Such practices as electrical shocks to the genitals,

suffocation, and cigarette burns have also been reported in the

past, but there were no confirmed reports of these practices in



During 1993 there were no reports alleging torture of convicted

political prisoners or deaths linked to the conditions of their

imprisonment.  Khin Maung Myint of the leftist People's

Progressive Party (PPP) died in prison in 1993, apparently of

natural causes after repeated stays in a prison medical

facility despite his family's request for his transfer to a

civilian hospital.  Interviews by U.S. citizens and

Congressional visitors on private travel with SLORC-selected

prisoners at Insein prison near Rangoon indicate an overly

harsh prison regimen, i.e., little exercise, no reading or

writing materials for many if not most prisoners, poor

nutrition, years of solitary confinement for some, and illness

induced by sleeping on concrete cell floors.  Student leader

Min Ko Naing, who met with two visiting American Congressmen at

Insein Prison in August, displayed the effects of serious

physical and psychological abuse.  A few prominent prisoners,

such as former NLD Chairmen Tin Oo and Kyi Maung, were provided

limited reading material and bungalow accommodations.  Those

interviewed acknowledged receiving medicine as well as

supplemental food brought by their families during 15-minute

visits permitted every 2 weeks.


The Government continued to bar the International Committee of

the Red Cross (ICRC) from visiting detainees or convicted

prisoners of any kind.


     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile


Arbitrary arrest and detention are practiced routinely by the

SLORC.  Throughout the year at least scores of political

activists were detained for low-level political protests, such

as handing out opposition flyers, painting political graffiti,

or shouting opposition slogans.  Some detentions coincided with

the startup of sessions of the national convention or with

various political anniversaries.  Shortly after the January 9

launching of the national convention, for example, the

authorities announced the arrest of 23 activists including Nay

Lin, a youth organizer for the Federation of Trade Unions of

Burma, who allegedly painted graffiti on a Rangoon wharf.  Some

students were picked up for staging a brief demonstration on

June 7 at a suburban campus of Rangoon University.  Several NLD

members, including at least one successful candidate in the

1990 election, were detained after taking part in a

wreath-laying ceremony at Aung San's tomb.  Between June and

August, the authorities also arrested 12 persons, including the

writer Ma Thida and the successful NLD candidate and delegate

to the national convention, Dr. Aung Khin Sint, for

distributing opposition literature.  In what was widely

recognized as a warning to others, all were convicted in

mid-October and given harsh 20-year prison sentences.


While most detainees were members of political parties or

engaged in overtly political activities, businessmen and other

private citizens were also subject to arbitrary detention,

particularly as the increase in private economic activity in

1993 led to additional scrutiny of businesses by security



The military again extended the house arrest of former NLD

General Secretary and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. 

The decision was taken under the provisions of the Law to

Safeguard the State from the Dangers of Subversive

Elements--also the basis for her initial year of house arrest

which began in 1989.  As amended in August 1991, the law

authorizes 1-year extensions of arbitrary detention without

charge or trial for up to 5 years.  Aung San Suu Kyi has never

been formally charged.  The authorities have offered her an

opportunity to substitute foreign exile for her current house

arrest, but she declined to leave the country.  The military

Government again allowed her husband and two sons to visit her

in 1993.  The authorities refused a proposed visit by a group

of fellow Nobel Laureates seeking her release.


There is no provision in Burmese law for judicial determination

of the legality of detention.  Bail may be granted by civilian

courts in some circumstances.  The number of political

detainees not sentenced by year's end was impossible to

determine accurately.


     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial


Throughout 1993 the Government continued to rule by decree and

was not bound by any constitutional provisions guaranteeing

fair public trials or any other rights.  Until abolished in

September 1992, military tribunals exercised jurisdiction over

all cases involving defiance of orders issued by the SLORC or

local commanders.  These tribunals could mete out only three

sentences--the death penalty, life imprisonment, 3 years or

more imprisonment with labor--regardless of existing laws.  On

January 1, however, a government decree codified an existing

moratorium on capital punishment by commuting all previous

SLORC-imposed death sentences to life imprisonment.  It also

capped all other prison terms at 10 years for anyone convicted

during the SLORC era.


After denying for years that it held any political prisoners,

in April 1992, the Government announced its intention to free

those persons "detained politically" who did not represent a

threat to state security.  Between that time and the end of

1993, the SLORC announced the release of more than 2,000

persons, although fewer than 200 were publicly identified.  The

failure to identify most released persons invites suspicions

about whether they were actually political prisoners, but

opposition activists believe this was generally the case. 

Reliable sources indicate that some of those released in 1993

were monks imprisoned for participating in 1988 prodemocracy

rallies and a 1990 boycott action, including prominent Rangoon

Abbot Thu Mingala; prodemocracy businessman Ye Htoon; and

numerous Karens and others suspected of supporting the 1991

Irrawaddy Delta insurgency.


The 1992 decree also implicitly acknowledged that political

prisoners had been held not only in Rangoon's Insein Prison but

also in over 20 upcountry locations--many of which were still

believed to hold some political prisoners at the end of 1993. 

The remaining political prisoners included former military

officers Tin Oo and Kyi Maung, both of whom had served as

chairmen of the NLD, comedian Zargana, student leader Min Ko

Naing, and lawyer U Nay Min. 


Since September 1992, civil courts have handled civil and

criminal cases, as well as political trials.  Civilian courts

have reportedly become fairer in handling nonpolitical cases

since 1988, but remain plagued by corruption, inordinate delays

in processing cases and appeals, and poor training and

unprofessional behavior on the part of some court officers.


Some basic due process rights, including the right to a public

trial and to be represented by a defense attorney, are

generally respected by civilian judges.  Judges are appointed

by the Supreme Court with the approval of the SLORC (which also

names justices to the Supreme Court).  At present, judges must

be at least law officers with legal training.  Defense

attorneys are permitted to call and cross-examine witnesses,

but their primary purpose is to bargain with the judge to

obtain the shorest possible sentence for their clients.  Cases,

almost all political, which are tried in courtooms in prison

compounds are not open to the public.  In such cases, while

defendants may have access to a defense attorney, counsel

appears to serve no purpose other than to provide moral

support.  Reliable reports indicate that in political cases due

process is largely ignored and verdicts manipulated.



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



The State continued to intrude extensively into the lives of

private citizens during 1993.  Forced entry and warrantless,

unannounced searches of private homes were often conducted. 

Through its extensive intelligence network, the Government

closely monitored the travel, whereabouts, and activities of

many Burmese, particularly those known to be politically

active.  Security personnel selectively monitored private

correspondence and telephone calls.  Contacts or communications

involving foreigners were subject to especially intense

scrutiny, and government employees were required to obtain

advance permission before meeting with foreigners.  Despite

some efforts by the Government to improve its image by meeting

in October with the head of the British Broadcasting

Corporation Far Eastern Service, official propaganda continued

in 1993 to take aim at various foreign news services, and

private citizens were generally unable to subscribe directly to

foreign publications.  Two international newsmagazines were

distributed through official channels and were available to the

public at large, but censors occasionally banned issues or

deleted articles criticizing local conditions or reporting

opposition activities.  Foreign radio broadcasts remained a

prime source of information for the people and even for the

military, despite the Government's hostility to this news

source.  The authorities sought to register the growing number

of television satellite receivers but appeared ready to

tolerate their use.  Some foreign journalists, including

television crews, continued to be granted access to the

country, but their movements and contacts were closely



In its most intensive and egregious infringement of privacy

rights, the Government continued its program of forced

resettlement, involving an estimated half-million urban

residents throughout Burma since 1989.  While most of those

forced to move were described as "squatters," some people had

been living in and paying rent on their former home sites for

many years and had constructed permanent houses.  The

Government has made people move, almost totally at their own

expense, to "new towns" which are far from their previous

residences.  "New  town" occupants often live on former rice

paddy land, subject to flooding in the rainy season, without

adequate transportation, medical facilities, shelter, or

sanitation.  In 1993 conditions at some resettlement sites

improved, but, according to international observers, such

improvements were often unable to keep pace with the rate of

new arrivals.  Some outside experts accept the Government's

explanation that the resettlement program serves legitimate

long-term urban planning objectives, but they do not endorse

the forceful methods used to move people.


     g.  Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian

         Law in Internal Conflicts


The Burmese Army has battled diverse insurgencies for more than

four decades in conflicts that have resulted in widespread

human rights violations, including mistreatment and killing of

prisoners, rape, neglect of the sick and wounded, impressment

of civilians for porter duty, and indiscriminate attacks on

civilians.  While the Government was responsible for the bulk

of these abuses (the Burmese armed forces nearly doubled the

number of combat units since 1988), insurgent groups have also

violated humanitarian principles.  Insurgent groups, such as

the Karen, Mon, and Karenni, continued to engage in small-scale

fighting, mostly in remote areas, to try to gain greater

autonomy from the dominant ethnic Burman majority.  Some

receive limited outside support from private international

humanitarian and religious organizations.  The Shan United Army

(SUA) also claims to be fighting for greater autonomy but

engages primarily in drug trafficking.  Several former

insurgent groups with which the Government now has cease-fire

accommodations likewise are important narcotics trafficking

organizations.  The continued suspension of large-scale

military offensives against insurgents in Karen state and

elsewhere, together with ongoing government efforts to reach a

peace accord with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), sharply

reduced the level of fighting during 1993.


In 1993 the use of forced porterage continued, with attendant

casualties.  Most of these deaths, roughly estimated to be in

the hundreds, were from disease and overwork, though reports of

mistreatment and rape were also common.  The Burmese military

also continued to use corvee labor and prison labor in combat

areas.  There were unconfirmed reports, for example, that on at

least two occasions a combined total of as many as 700 inmates

from a prison near Rangoon were taken to work as porters in

eastern Burma.  Credible reports from multiple sources

indicated that porters have carried ammunition, supplies, and

the wounded under the harshest conditions.  Other well-placed

sources also note that they are subject to hostile fire as well

as maltreatment at the hands of Burmese soldiers.  When porters

are wounded, ill, or unable to continue their work, some have

been reportedly left unattended to die.  At the end of their

service, survivors often have had to find their own means to

return home.  It was also credibly reported that some members

of the military used sham threats of impressment to extort

money from villagers.


Forced rural resettlement displaced ethnic minority villagers

in Karen and Kayah states and contributed to an increase of

about 6,000 Burmese in camps on the Thai side of the border. 

Local sources reported some amelioration of conditions

following the completion of the railroad to Loikaw for Catholic

villagers in Kayah State who had been resettled in March 1992,

and that many returned to their original homes.  Reports from

Karen State suggest rural relocation schemes continued to play

a key role in the Government's counterinsurgency strategy.


Despite this evidence that the Burmese authorities were not

prepared fully to implement their obligations under the Geneva

Conventions, in April and November the Government for the first

time permitted the International Committee of the Red Cross

(ICRC) to conduct two short seminars on humanitarian law for

groups of military officers.


Antigovernment groups were responsible for violence causing

civilian and military deaths, including reported killings of

civilians during attacks on villages and ambushes or mining of

transportation routes.  In two separate incidents in February

and March, over 100 confirmed civilian deaths resulted from

military conflicts involving the narcotics-trafficking Shan

United Army.  Credible reports indicate Karenni insurgents

executed at least eight captured Burmese soldiers, and civilian

deaths in a transport train blown up by a land mine were

attributed to Mon activists.  Additionally, reliable multiple

sources indicated that Karen insurgents resorted to forced

labor for porterage and impressed youths into military service.


Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:


     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press


Severe restrictions on freedom of speech and the press

persisted throughout 1993.  Although the degree of enforcement

varied, the Government generally continued to demonstrate

little tolerance for opposing views or criticism.  Private

citizens remained reluctant to express opinions for fear of

government informers.  The U.N. Human Rights Commission (UNHRC)

Special Rapporteur deplored the "pervasive atmosphere of fear

and repression" in Burma in his report adopted by the UNHRC in

March.  The Government exercised strict censorship of all news

and publications produced in the country.


Nevertheless, private magazines found it possible to publish

articles on once taboo economic subjects, and some former

political prisoners were allowed to publish on nonsensitive

topics.  The government-controlled press and broadcast services

continued to publish some limited criticism and satire in

1993.  The Government adopted a tolerant approach toward the

increasing activities of the United States Information Service

in Rangoon, permitting it to distribute publications and

organize discussions which treated themes involving human

rights and fundamental freedoms.  The authorities' actions in

attempting to register private satellites dishes and impose

fines on the many Burmese who had set up unauthorized satellite

television receivers slowed the spread of access to uncensored

television news and other programming from abroad.  No seizures

of satellite receivers, however, were reported in 1993.


The Government made heavy use of its monopoly of television and

radio to pursue its political policies and, with the exception

of coverage of some aspects of the national convention, did not

accord air time to opposing views.  The same was true of all

newspapers--two national dailies in Burmese and one in English,

as well as daily papers published by the Rangoon city

government and the Central (Mandalay area) Military Command.  A

revamping and renaming of the country's main daily in April

resulted in increased publication of locally edited

international wire service news, but that paper, as well as

other newspapers, remained staunchly official organs, with

military officials appointing editors and vetting editorials. 

Especially for domestic news, journalists had to hew to strict

publishing and broadcast guidelines.  All forms of

media--domestic and imported books and periodicals, stage

plays, motion pictures, and musical recordings--were officially

controlled and censored.  Persons working in these fields

admitted to exercising self-censorship lest they run afoul of

the authorities.


University teachers and professors remained subject to the same

restrictions on freedom of speech, political activities, and

publications as other government employees.  These included

warnings against criticism of the Government; instructions not

to discuss politics while at work; and strictures against

joining or supporting political parties, engaging in political

activity, and meeting foreign officials.  While all teachers

remained subject to dismissal for political disloyalty, some

left the profession voluntarily to escape the political



The universities, closed for several years after the 1988

disturbances, were open for most of 1993.  However, they were

closed from December 1992 until mid-February in what many

believe was a move to avoid student demonstrations during the

startup of the politically sensitive national convention. 

Meanwhile, on the main campus of Rangoon University, fences

built around the various faculties prior to the university's

reopening remained in place, reportedly to help control

potential student unrest.  In a move also widely believed

intended primarily to disperse and isolate students, a fifth

national university opened outside Rangoon in November.


     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association


The Government does not respect the right to freedom of

peaceful assembly.  A prohibition on outdoor assemblies of more

than five people was unevenly enforced, but political

demonstrations were strictly banned.


Political parties were required to request permission from the

authorities even to hold internal meetings of their own

membership.  The military's intimidation generally served to

discourage public expressions of antigovernment sentiments.  In

the few reported instances of unauthorized political activity,

security forces generally intervened swiftly to detain or

imprison participants in unauthorized meetings and to halt

distribution of antigovernment leaflets.  The authorities

reportedly were quick to deploy a large-scale force in Mandalay

in September when a spontaneous demonstration unexpectedly took

on political overtones.


The right of association existed only for those organizations,

including trade associations and professional bodies, permitted

by law and duly registered with the Government.  Moreover, the

Government severely restricted the activities of even these

organizations.  Ten political parties remained formally legal

at the end of 1993--down from 75 at the beginning of 1992--but

they were virtually paralyzed through arrests, intimidation,

and surveillance.  In February the authorities permitted a

large private funeral to be organized for the wife of one-time

oppositionist and former Prime Minister U Nu.  While the

Government denied visas to two sons living abroad, it permitted

a daughter active in the Burmese opposition in India to attend.



     c.  Freedom of Religion


Freedom of religion is provided for in law.  Despite the

privileged position of Buddhists in government service, this

right is widely observed in practice although there have been

human rights abuses against some believers.  Buddhist pagodas,

Muslim mosques, and Christian churches operate openly with

minimal interference, at least in those areas of central Burma

accessible to independent observers.  Christians, Muslims, and

animists are particularly numerous among minority ethnic

groups.  While generally allowing these groups to practice

freely, security services monitor the activities of religious

communities.  The Government requires all religious

organizations to register and subjects religious publications

to the same control and censorship imposed on secular ones. 

Restrictions on unauthorized religious groups remained in

force, and the military continued to monitor activities in and

around Buddhist monasteries and pagodas.  The SLORC has been

largely successful in halting political activism among the

Buddhist clergy.


Religious groups can and did establish links with

coreligionists in other countries, although such links were

reportedly monitored by the Government.  The Catholic Church,

for example, maintained ties to the Vatican.  While foreign

religious representatives were usually allowed only to obtain

visas for short stays, in some cases they were permitted to

preach to Burmese congregations.  Though permanent missionary

establishments have not been permitted since the 1960's, some

foreign Catholic nuns and at least one priest continued to

reside upcountry, most working in homes for the aged.


As part of its large-scale "urban development" program in

recent years, the Government has taken control of several

Christian and Muslim properties throughout Burma, including

cemeteries.  On the other hand, school authorities in Rangoon

eventually exempted Muslim students from bowing to their

teachers, when those students complained the action resembled a

practice used in Buddhist worship.


     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign

         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation


Although Burmese citizens have the legal right to live anywhere

in the country, both urban and rural residents have been

subject to arbitrary relocation.  Except for limitations in

areas of insurgent activity, Burmese citizens could travel

freely within the country but had to inform local authorities

of their temporary place of residence.  People staying

overnight with friends or relatives within their home cities or

villages were also required to report this to the authorities.


People who failed to report either guests or intentions to stay

overnight to the authorities were theoretically subject to a

jail term, and arrests were occasionally made.  Noncitizen

residents, including ethnic Indians and Chinese born in Burma

who hold foreigners' registration cards, had to obtain prior

permission to travel.


Though travel strictures continued to ease, the Government

maintained controls on departure from the country.  While the

authorities simplified certain requirements for obtaining a

passport, other requirements plus bureaucratic procedures and

corruption still presented formidable hurdles.  Those traveling

abroad to work, however, encountered fewer difficulties,

particularly as Burmese authorities sought to increase hard

currency earnings from the taxes they impose on such persons'

earnings.  Emigrants, by contrast, were required to reimburse

the Government for "educational expenses" before receiving exit

permission and were severely limited in what they could take

with them.


Burmese citizens who left legally were generally allowed to

return to visit relatives, and those wishing to extend their

stays found it easier to obtain permission to do so.  Even some

who had stayed abroad illegally and acquired foreign

citizenship found it easier to return to visit or do business. 

In a move widely believed to be intended to encourage wealthy

older overseas Burmese to retire in Burma, the Government

announced in May that Burmese abroad would have 2 years to

reapply for citizenship lost through naturalization in another

country.  At about the same time, the Ministry of Home Affairs

announced that Burmese abroad holding expired travel documents

could obtain new passports or an extension of their old ones.


Obtaining these benefits, however, remained subject to

government approval on a case-by-case basis.  Moreover, some

Burmese living abroad, particularly those who had traveled or

remained abroad illegally, continued to fear subjecting

themselves to potential punitive action by Burmese authorities

if they should return to Burma.  By September, 14 persons had

been allowed to resettle in Burma, and another 14 had had their

Burmese passports extended or replaced.



In 1993 foreigners were allowed into the country in increasing

numbers on an individual, rather than only on a tour group,

basis.  The authorities also took several steps to liberalize

travel for foreigners within Burma, though large areas of the

country remained off limits on security grounds.  Tourist and

family visit visas are routinely granted for 2 to 4 weeks, and

can be extended on a case-by-case basis.  However, select

foreigners, such as human rights advocates and political

figures, continued to be denied entry visas unless traveling

under the aegis of a sponsor acceptable to the Government.  A

private voluntary organization, Medecins Sans Frontieres/

Holland, is now operating in Burma and has foreign personnel

assigned to Rangoon on a permanent basis.


In April 1992, following the flight into Bangladesh of an

estimated 265,000 Muslims from Arakan State in order to escape

military repression, the Governments of Bangladesh and Burma

signed a Memorandum of Understanding providing for the

voluntary repatriation of the refugees.  However, Burma, unlike

Bangladesh, did not accept a role for UNHCR in the repatriation

process at that time.  In the absence of an adequate

international monitoring presence in Burma, most Rohingyas were

reluctant to return to Arakan.  After a private visit by High

Commissioner Sadako Ogata to Burma in late July and subsequent

talks between the Burmese authorities and UNHCR representatives,

the Government of Burma signed a Memorandum of Understanding

with the UNHCR in November which provides that the UNHCR will

have a presence in Arakan State and will have access to all

returnees.  The agreement is intended to cover the monitoring

and administration of the return to Burma in safety and dignity

of about 200,000 Rohingyas who remain in refugee camps in

Bangladesh.  Of those who fled between late 1991 and mid-1992,

some 50,000 were repatriated to Burma in 1993.


Foreign refugees or displaced persons may not resettle or seek

safe haven in Burma.  The Government treats people claiming to

be refugees as illegal immigrants and expels or imprisons them.


Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens

           to Change Their Government


Burma is governed solely by the military, and the Burmese

people do not have the right or the ability peacefully to

change their government.  Since 1988 active duty military

officers have occupied many important positions throughout the

bureaucracy, particularly at the policymaking level.  Despite

the appointment of several civilians to the Cabinet in 1992,

military or recently retired military officers have continued

to occupy most cabinet-level positions, numerous director

general and subordinate posts, and key positions once held by

technocrats in the economic ministries.


In the 1990 election the NLD and associated parties achieved an

overwhelming victory.  The SLORC subsequently set aside the

results and disqualified, detained, arrested, or drove into

exile many successful candidates, including most of the NLD

leadership.  By the end of 1993, 174 of the 485 deputies

elected had either been disqualified, resigned under pressure,

gone into exile, been detained, or died.  At least 46

successful candidates from the election or prominent NLD

activists were serving prison sentences.  In 1992 the SLORC

held discussions with selected representatives of the few

political parties which had not been banned outright, with a

view to staging a national convention to write a new

constitution without the participation of most leading members

of the democratic opposition.  The national convention finally

opened on January 9 and continued intermittently throughout the

year until September 16, when it finally adjourned until the

following January.  Of the approximately 700 delegates

attending, only about 150 held mandates from the 1990

elections.  Members of six of the eight interest groups

represented were selected by the SLORC.  Using these groups as

a majority, the Government forced through its own rules, its

own agenda, and finally its own principles for a new

constitution, guaranteeing continued military control of the

Government.  During an intermediate stage, representatives of

the NLD and minority groups were able to put forward some

proposals clearly at odds with government preferences.  But the

authorities carefully controlled the level of visible

opposition by censoring presentations, declaring unwelcome

documents off-limits to the public, forbidding discussion from

the floor, and intimidating individual delegates behind the

scenes.  There has been no genuine public discussion of the

process that will be used to arrive at a new constitution.


One NLD victor in the 1990 election and national convention

delegate, Dr. Aung Khin Sint, was convicted and sentenced to 20

years' imprisonment for distributing opposition literature to

his fellow delegates. 


In some regions where government forces exercise limited or no

control, including in cases where the Government has reached an

accommodation with former insurgent groups, indigenous

populations have considerable autonomy in running their own

political and economic affairs.  Even in government-controlled

areas, they generally retain their social and cultural



Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and

           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations

           of Human Rights


No internal human rights organizations are allowed to exist. 

The Government continued to oppose outside scrutiny of its

human rights record but permitted somewhat greater access in

1993 for some journalists, nongovernmental organizations, and

foreign government officials wishing to examine the country's

human rights situation.  Burmese authorities allowed UNHRC

Special Rapporteur Professor Yokota to conduct another

fact-finding mission in the country in November 1993.


In 1991, 1992, and again in 1993, the U.N. General Assembly

(UNGA) adopted increasingly strong resolutions urging the

Burmese Government to end human rights abuses and undertake

genuine democratic reform.  The 1993 UNGA resolution called on

the Government to release unconditionally Aung San Suu Kyi and

other detained political leaders and to respect the expressed

will of the Burmese people by implementing the results of the

1990 elections.


The UNHRC Special Rapporteur appointed in March 1992, Professor

Yozo Yokota, visited Burma in December 1992 and presented his

report in February 1993.  He returned to Burma in November 1993

to fulfill his mandate as Special Rapporteur.  The report

offered a harsh catalog of human rights abuses in Burma and

called for far-reaching remedial action.  In later reviewing

the report, the UNHRC took special aim at the refusal of

Burmese authorities to accord Dr. Yokota the "full and

unreserved cooperation" and access to persons of his choice

that had been conditions of his mission.  The Government, for

its part, disputed the Special Rapporteur's mandate and

rejected many of his findings.


Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion,

           Disability, Language, or Social Status




Women in Burma in general have traditionally enjoyed a high

status, exercising most of the same basic rights as men and

taking an active role in business.  Consistent with traditional

culture, they keep their own names after marriage and often

control family finances.  However, participation of women

remained low in the minuscule industrial sector and in the

bureaucracy; a few professions, such as forestry and geology,

are entirely barred to women.  Women do not consistently

receive equal pay for equal work.  There continued to be no

women's rights organizations in Burma or government agency

specifically devoted to safeguarding women's interests.


There was no nationwide pattern of violence directed

specifically against women.  However, reliable reports

continued to indicate that many Burmese women and children in

the border areas were forced or lured into serving as

prostitutes in Thailand by criminals and criminal

organizations.  Recruitment of these women generally occurred

in remote areas where Burmese officials were unable to prevent

the practice.  In 1993, impressment, including of women, for

military porterage duties continued, with attendant casualties.


Although Burmese culturally view rape with great abhorrence, in

1993 there continued to be a consistent pattern of reports

alleging rapes of ethnic minority women in border areas by

Burmese soldiers.




In mid-July the Government issued a law stipulating children's

rights and containing provisions covering their protection and

custody, education, employment, and judicial treatment. 

Burmese authorities also adopted in September a "National

Program of Action" for the survival, protection, and

development of the country's children.  By year's end it

remained unclear whether the Government intended to give the

program the political impetus needed to ensure the

interministerial cooperation and resource allocation required

to make it a success.


Government and UNICEF figures indicated the plight of children

to be worse than was earlier realized.  Infant mortality is

high (94 per 1000); 37 percent of children under 3 are severely

or moderately malnourished; 31 percent of children aged 5

through 14 suffer from iodine deficiency; only 62 percent of

children enroll in primary school; and only 25 percent of

children complete the prescribed 5-year course.



     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities


Burma's numerous ethnic minorities, which have their own

distinct cultures and languages, have been underrepresented in

the Government and largely excluded from the military

leadership.  Despite recently increased government investment

in the border areas in road, hospital, and school construction,

economic development among minorities continued to lag and many

still live at the subsistence level.


Since only people who can prove long familial links to Burma

are accorded full citizenship, some people not of ethnic

Burmese ancestry, primarily Indians and Chinese, continued to

be denied full citizenship and to be excluded from government

positions.  Individuals without full citizenship are also

barred from certain advanced university programs in medicine

and technological fields and are often the object of

prejudice.  However, Indian and Chinese minorities continued to

play an important role in the economy--a situation resented by

many Burmans.


In Arakan State, some Rohingyas, who in general do not enjoy

full citizenship, have also have been denied national identity

cards.  Though a limited number of outside observers were able

to visit Arakan State, albeit on a government-controlled basis,

credible reports continued to emerge of discrimination and

travel restrictions for Muslims in the area.  The

well-documented human rights abuses which precipitated the

original Rohingya exodus, however, appeared to have largely

subsided.  At the same time, claims that Buddhists from

elsewhere in Arakan State were being resettled nearer the

border in previously Muslim areas were reliably confirmed.


Multiple, reliable sources indicated that the military

occasionally required minority populations in the border

regions to provide without compensation vehicles, equipment,

and lodging for soldiers.


     Religious Minorities


The SLORC continued to associate itself closely with the

majority Buddhist religion, giving wide publicity to the

participation by its members in various Buddhist rites and

ceremonies.  While this reportedly was a cause of concern among

some members of other religions, the Government in fact

continued to permit members of the major non-Buddhist faiths to

practice their religion.  Religious organizations, however,

remained subject to registration and censorship controls

applicable to the entire population.  Restrictions on Muslims

in Arakan State appear to be result primarily from their lack

of full citizenship and to discrimination on ethnic grounds.


     People with Disabilities


Official assistance to persons with disabilities is extremely

limited.  There is no law mandating accessibility to government

facilities for those with disabilities.  A small number benefit

from the services of the Mary Chapman School for the Deaf in

Rangoon, which recently began receiving government patronage,

or from modest religious-associated assistance programs funded

through private donations.  Most disabled persons, however,

must rely on traditional family structures to provide for their

welfare, and many become destitute.  The principal exception is

disabled members of the military, who receive medical

attention, rehabilitation, and financial assistance, though

most veterans receive such benefits only for a few years after

discharge.  Reliable reports indicate that high-ranking

officers receive better treatment than the rank and file. 

Since 1986 Burmese authorities have permitted representatives

of the ICRC to work in Burma to upgrade provision of orthopedic

prostheses.  Because of both landmines and train-related

accidents, Burma has one of the highest rates of amputees in

the world.


Section 6  Worker Rights


     a.  The Right of Association


In 1993 there continued to be no right of association among

workers in Burma.  Workers were not free to form or join trade

unions of their own choosing, and leaders of unofficial labor

associations, such as youth organizer Nay Lin of the Federation

of Trade Unions of Burma, were subject to arrest.  A new labor

law was promised in connection with the drafting of a new

constitution, but it is doubtful the document will ensure the

right of workers to organize freely.  At a minimum, any trade

unions which might form are expected to be firmly under

government control.  Workers are not permitted to strike, and

there were no reported instances in 1993 of attempts to do so.


In July 1989, the United States suspended Burma's eligibility

for trade concessions under the Generalized System of

Preferences program, pending steps to afford its labor force

internationally recognized worker rights.  In 1990 the U.S.

Government declined a formal request to reconsider the



In June 1993, the International Labor Organization (ILO)

Conference cited Burma in a "special paragraph", its strongest

form of censure, for its longstanding failure to take "the

necessary measures in legislation and practice to guarantee to

all workers and all employers without any distinction and

without prior authorization the right to organize even outside

the existing trade union structure should they so wish."


     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively


Workers continued not to have the right to organize and bargain

collectively.  Government arbitration boards, which once

theoretically provided a means for airing labor disputes, were

abolished in 1988.  The Government unilaterally sets wages in

the public sector.  In the private sector, wages are set by

market forces.  In a job-scarce economy, this means employers

determine wage levels.  The Government pressures joint ventures

not to pay salaries greater than those of ministers or other

high-level employees.  Joint ventures circumvent this via

supplemental pay, including remuneration paid in foreign

exchange certificates, as well as through incentive and

overtime pay and other fringe benefits.  Foreign firms

generally set wages near those of the domestic private sector

but follow the practice of joint ventures in awarding

supplemental wages and benefits. 


No special export processing zones exist.


     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor


Burma's legal code does not prohibit forced labor.  The

military routinely employed corvee labor on its myriad building

projects and, according to credible reports, officials accepted

bribes to excuse some people from work.  Forced labor was used

in constructing the railroad line opened in 1993 to Loikaw,

capital of Burma's Kayah State.


The Burmese Army has for decades impressed civilian males to

serve as porters.  According to reliable reports, in 1993 the

army continued to abduct youths off the streets, chiefly in

minority areas but also in some urban areas of central Burma. 

Women were also occasionally impressed as porters, cooks, and

laundresses for soldiers in frontline areas, according to

credible reports.  Military authorities commonly permitted

conscripts and their families to pay them money in lieu of

porter duty.


In June a Burmese diplomat in Singapore organized the

confinement and forced return to Burma of a group of 11 Burmese

seamen transiting Singapore en route from Australia to Thailand

after the men prevailed in a wage dispute with the help of the

International Transport Federation.  All remained free in 1993

but are unable to regain employment abroad.


     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children


Children aged 13 to 15 may work 4 hours a day.  The "Child Law"

of July 14, 1993, governs most matters concerning children

under the age of 16.  It gives each such child the right to

"engage in work in accordance with law and its own volition." 

To date, the "law" referred to includes both the Factories Act

of 1951 and the Children Pledging of Labor Act, this latter

being an Indian law from 1933 still on the books.  In theory,

the penalty for employers disregarding this regulation was 2

years in prison, but there were no reports of any prosecutions

in 1993 for illegally employing children, despite the fact

that, in cities, working children were highly visible.  They

were hired at lower pay rates than adults for the same kind of

work, and economic pressure forced them to work not only for

their survival but also to support their families.  Burmese law

requires children to attend school through the fourth standard,

usually reached between the ages of 12 and 15.  The Department

of Basic Education estimated, however, that 38 percent of

children aged 5 to 9 never enroll in school.  Of those who do,

less than 30 percent complete the fourth grade.  Two-thirds of

Burma's primary schoolchildren, principally in rural areas,

leave school for economic reasons.  In the higher grades, the

drop-out rate for girls is double that for boys.


     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work


Depressed economic conditions and lack of attention by

government authorities continued to dictate substandard

conditions for workers.  The Law on Fundamental Workers Rights

of 1964 and the Factories Act of 1951 regulate working

conditions.  There is a legally prescribed 5-day, 35-hour

workweek for employees in the public sector and a 6-day,

44-hour workweek for private and parastatal sector employees,

with overtime paid for additional work.  Workers have 21 paid

holidays a year. 



Only government employees are protected by minimum wage

provisions.  The minimum wage was raised in March to $3 per day

(20 kyats) at the official exchange rate, but less than $0.20

at the unofficial, free market rate.  The Government raised

wages for public employees by 25 percent in March, but pay in

the state sector remained far below the amount needed to

provide a decent standard of living or counter the practice of

taking bribes.  The actual average wage rate for casual

laborers in Rangoon was about twice the official minimum. 

Wages continued to lag far behind inflation. 


To protect health and safety at workplaces, there are numerous

regulations pertaining to room size, ventilation, fire hazards,

and the availability of latrines and drinking water.  In

practice, these were seldom enforced, particularly in the

private sector. (###)