BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994                            

Published  JANUARY 31, 1995







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.  Nevrtheless, 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 whoattemped 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 th ohers pose

little threat to major population  centers.


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 basicfredom 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 sgnd 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 UNCHR 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, extajuicial 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 jal. 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




     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 declin inthe 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 retrial period.  The most common  forms of maltreatment during this

period were sleep and food  deprivation coupled with round-the-clock



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  1993.


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

cauesafter 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

permite every 2 weeks.


The Government continued to bar the International Committee of  the Red

Cross (ICRC) from visiting detainees or convicted  prisoners of any



     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  forces.


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

boundby ny 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 SLRC 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 he LD, 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 emloyees wre 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 ther se.  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 er 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, motl 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 t us 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 urese 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 inidnts 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  source sindicated 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 Rappoteu 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 nes ad other programming from

abroad.  No seizures  of satellite receivers, however, were reported in



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--domesti ad 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  pressure.


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 amoe 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 deie 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 i and  arund 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. Onthe 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, inluding 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 staye aboad 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 passort

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 Memoradum

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 reios 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  institutions.



Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and           

Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human



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

beencoditions 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 t idicate 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 unler 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




     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

deveopent 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-documentd hman 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 o he 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 treatmet han 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


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,acording 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



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 unabe o 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 chidre 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




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. (###)