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/* Written 3 Oct 6:00am 1995 by DRUNOO@xxxxxxxxxxxx in igc:reg.burma */
/* ---------------" Comprehensive Response (reposted) "-------------- */
Part 1 of 2.

         A Comprehensive Response To
         Burmese Refugee and Displaced People Problem
                5 October 1994

        Dr U Ne Oo, Adelaide Australia

1.  Burma in the Year 1993-94.
Reflecting  Burma's political situation, some analysts describe the
year 1993-94  as the watershed year in Burmese  politics  [1].  The
ruling  military junta, the State Law and Order Restoration Council
(SLORC), seems to be adopting a more conciliatory approach  towards
the  detained   opposition  leader  Daw  Aung  San  Suu Kyi [2]. In
September 1993, Burmese  military claims to have adopted a republic
style constitution, which  is interpreted as the military making  a
concession   to ease tension with the ethnic oppositions [3]. There
is no increase in the level of human rights abuses  in  this  year,
partly  because  SLORC   had  managed  to  silence  the oppositions
effectively [4], and reports of serious  violations  are   rare  in
comparison   to  the  periods  of  August-September  1988  and  the
aftermath of May 1990 election. These indications  are  that  Burma
may  be  at  the  beginning  of  a "post-conflict era" in which all
parties in the conflict could resolve their problems in a  peaceful
environment.  However,  the   climate  of  fear  continues  for the
general populace  as  the  system  of  repression  is  still  being
enforced; therefore it must continue to judge the military junta as
a serious violator of human rights.

The military continues to show its willingness to hold on to power:
making  efforts  to hold its dominant position in government in the
event  of a transfer of power to  any  future  administrations.  To
secure  the leading   role for the army in the future, the military
imposed guidelines in drafting  the constitution [5] and  has  also
been    desperately   seeking   ways  to  establish  its  political

The Military Government of Myanmar(SLORC)   appears  to  be  making
efforts  to improve its  political stature. The military government
declared the year 1994-95 as ``All-round Development Year''  and is
carrying  out various infrastructure and development  projects.  It
claims to have made measures  to bring Burma's civil war to an end;
it is successful in negotiation with some armed ethnic rebel groups
to enter the military cease-fire. A highly publicised anti-narcotics
operation was launched in order to appease the western governments,
particularly  the  Government  of  the United States [6]. This is a
move  that appears to exploit the drug issue as a legitimate avenue
to enter the international stage. Attempts have been made so as  to
attract   the  businesses  and investments, in particular, from the
United States [7]. In order to improve its international image, the
military junta reportedly hired public relation  personnel  from  a
private  firm to lobby the western governments.

With regards to the human rights situation in the minority areas, as
expected, the general condition  seems to be ameliorated as a result
of the military's  renewed initiatives for a cease-fire. However, a
resurgence  of human rights abuses that are not necessarily related
to the  government's counter-insurgency measures have occurred. The
local  military  administration  has  become  more  systematic   in
oppressing  the  villagers: organizing forced labour and porterage;
taking bribe and extorting  money;  and  confiscating   properties.
Although  these  type  of  abuses,  normally,  are considered  less
serious in comparison to those which occur in generalized  violence,
the cumulative effect upon the life and livelihoods of villagers is
found to be severe enough to cause the displacements.

The sincerity of military's initiatives for a   cease-fire  becomes
questionable   as  the  military  authorities  refuse  to  make   a
political settlements with the ethnic rebels who are struggling for
the establishment of the Federal Union of  Burma.  The  failure  to
make  political  settlement, in fact, is rather dubious because the
military itself claims to be promoting a republic style constitution.

As the military is preoccupied with keeping a stranglehold on state
power, the government's neglect on the welfare of normal citizens is
beginning to show its effects. The humanitarian situation within the
country  continues  to  deteriorate  and   the   hardships   become
unbearable  to  normal  citizens.  The  economic desperation, which
combined with political repression, has  become  another  cause  of
displacement for the Burmese population. Forced relocations, forced
labour,   extortions  and  confiscation  of  properties  in  ethnic
minority areas have resulted  in  the  outflows  of  refugees  into
neighbouring countries.

A humanitarian oriented approach to Burma's multitude of problems is
therefore necessary. The national reconciliations -  minorities and
majority  Burman  as well as the military and civilian population -
should be given the priority. A unified approach  from  all  fronts
(i.e.  the  political,  human rights and humanitarian) that derives
from all legitimate concerns becomes necessary  to  tackle  Burma's
problems.  Therefore   a  comprehensive  response  to  the  Burma's
refugee  problem  should  be  made  by  the  United   Nations   and
international community.

All parties in the conflict should be encouraged to enter negotiation
in order to create an environment conducive for refugee's voluntary
return. Measures to improve the human rights situation must be made
in  order  to  eliminate   the root causes that put the refugees to
their  flights.  A  voluntary  return  of  refugees,  assisted  and
monitored by the UNHCR and international community, must be arranged
as  a  comprehensive  response  to  the refugee problem. The entire
response to  Burma's refugees problem must be formulated within the
framework of peace-making and aimed at a longer-term peace-building
in Burma. Outlined in this paper is the strategy to approach it from
all fronts.

2. Human Rights and Refugees [8]
Since the leadership changes in  April  1992,  the  SLORC  is  seen
changing  its  behaviour  in  relation  to the serious human rights
abuses. Certain incremental measures have been   taken  to  improve
its  human  rights records [9].  These measures include the signing
of a Memorandum of Understanding with the UN High Commissioner  for
Refugees  for  the safe repatriation of Burmese-muslim refugee from
Bangladesh, also known as Rohingyas, and release of some  political
prisoners  [10].  SLORC also claims to have made initiatives to end
the civil war with ethnic minorities who are  demanding  a  greater
autonomy.  There  appears  to  be  some  reduction in the number of
serious violations  of  human  rights,  especially  those  directly
related   to   government  counter-insurgency  operations,  in  the
minority areas due to these initiatives for the cease-fire. However,
the climate of fear continues for the  Burmese  populace   and  the
minorities in particular, because the system of repression is still
being  enforced  by the Myanmar military government. It is observed
that a resurgence of widespread abuses, which  do  not  necessarily
relate to the military's counter-insurgency measures, have occurred
in  minority areas and are causing the displacement of the civilian

The nature of these abuses stem from the  lack  of  an  independent
judiciary,   the   weaknesses   in   the  structure  of  government
departments and the authorities' inability to control   corruption.
In  particular, the Military government's implementation of various
infrastructure projects has led to forced labour and enslavement of
villagers.  the loosening grip of central control upon the regional
military  councils  has  resulted  in  a  widespread   pattern   of
corruption  and  mismanagement  [11]. The  systematic repression by
authorities that led to  the  insecurity  in  the  normal  life  of
villagers  is  producing  the outflow of refugees into neighbouring

2.1  Refugees in Thailand
As  a  symbol  of  the  Myanmar   military   government's   renewed
initiatives  for  the  cease-fire, the Burmese army has suspended a
large scale military offensive on  insurgents  in  minority  areas.
There   appears  to  be  some  amelioration  of  the  human  rights
conditions,   particularly   the   abuses   directly   related   to
counter-insurgency  measures. However, the forced relocation scheme
continues to play a key role in the military government's  counter-
insurgency  strategy,  particularly  in  Karen State [12]. Although
large-scale battles with insurgents have not  occurred,  there  are
reports  of isolated skirmishes happening throughout the year [13].
Forced relocations, forced labour and  porterage,  confiscation  of
properties  and  extortion  of  money  from  villagers are commonly
reported. The following is a  summary  of  reported  abuses  within
Karen  and  Mon  States;  and  Tennasserim Division - all bordering
Thailand. These abuses are found to be the major root causes of the
flights of refugees into Thailand.

2.1.1  Forced relocations:
The Burmese Army has  used   the  strategy  of  forced  relocation,
commonly  known  as the ` four-cuts strategy' [14], in its counter-
insurgency  operations  since  mid-1970s.   Villages   within   the
strategic  area  are  ordered  to  relocate to places near military
outposts. The area is then declared as  free-fire  zones  in  which
anyone seen is considered rebel and subjected to being shot on sight.

In 1992, the Burmese military declared a unilateral cease-fire and
suspended  the  large  scale  offensive  with  Karen ethnic rebels.
However, as a government counter-insurgency measure,  an  intensive
forced relocation campaign in Karen State was carried out instead.
As a result, a large number of villages had to move to places near
military outposts [15]. The villagers are ordered to move at short
notice with little possessions. The houses and food left behind are
destroyed  by  military and  the compensations have never been paid
to the villagers. The restriction on the movement of villagers  has
also  caused  disruption  to  their  normal farming activities. The
humanitarian situation for these villagers in relocated camps were
reported to be egregious.

As of 1994, it appear that the incidences  of  forced   relocations
and  the  restrictions  on  the  movement of villagers had somewhat
eased in minority areas due  to   government's  renewed  cease-fire
initiatives.  However,  the  military   continues  to   relocate of
villages without compensation and exercises the right to  shoot  on
the  free-fire zones. Deteriorating humanitarian situation in these
relocated camps, i.e. malnutrition and the lack of medical care, is
causing sickness and death to the villagers. The Karen Human Rights
Group(KHRG)  [16]  has   reported  an  incident   of   the   forced
relocation,   testimony   given  by  a  refugee  who  fled  to  the
Thai-Burmese border, as [17]:

      "They  ({\em  SLORC})  also  force  villages  to  move.  They
      forced  Tha  Yet  Pin  and  Shan Ywa  villages to move  to Mi
      Kyaun Win, and Tha Yet Pin Seit had to  move  to  Kyaik   Maw
      Win. At the new places,the villagers had to clear the bush to
      build houses for themselves, and there were landmines close all
      around.  They have to go very far just to get water, at least
      500 meters down the hill. Now they just have to  survive  day
      by  day,  doing  day labour for money cutting bamboo, cutting
      sugarcane or  cutting wood. About 400 families from  my  area
      have  already fled.  Everyone from small villages has to flee
      to big villages, the forest, or the refugee camps. My village
      has 50 houses, but when I left there were already 200  houses
      there  from  all the smaller villages around. Over the last 3
      months very  many  villagers have  been  sick.  At  least   5
      or  6  adults have died of the sickness in my village, and at
      least 10 children."}

The military enforced the free-fire zones by threatening  to  shoot
and  to  kill  anyone  seen  on  sight. Consequently, the displaced
villagers are having no means to support themselves in new  sights.
The nature as well as extent of hardships  and  anxieties  for  the
relocated  populace  inside  Burma  are  very  similar  to  that of
external refugees: threat  of  persecution  upon  return  to  their
normal inhabitant, difficulty to survive in a  new environment, the
humiliations   and  indignity.  One  displaced  villager  told  her
experience to KHRG as [18]:

      "Major Kyaw Shwe ordered us to move. He is a  commander  from
      38  Infantry  Battalion. He said we had to move because there
      had been fighting in our village, but I'm sure there  was  no
      fighting  there,  only  very far away. They gave us 3 days to
      move out of the village and said that  after  that,  if  they
      see anyone in the village they'll shoot them on sight. ...\ABR
      Another  villager  went  back and tried to sleep one night in
      the old village, and the soldier captured him,  tied  him  up
      and  tortured  him  all  night.   Now  we face the problem of
      starvation because we can't work on our farms.  We  can't  do
      any   thing.  We don't have enough clothes. We don't know how
      to  make a living in the new place, but we can't dare go back
      to our old place either.

      No one can resist them because everyone is afraid to die. Our
      lives now are just work in the morning to eat in the evening,
      surviving hand to mouth. Now I need to buy a new  sarong  but
      I  can't.  We all feel deeply humiliated and small in the new
      place, because we see the people from the  village  with  new
      clothes   while  we  don't even have a change of clothes. The
      village  head there feel sorry for us, so whenever the  SLORC
      orders forced labour he gets his villagers to go instead of us."

2.1.2  Forced Labour:
For decades, the  Burmese  army  have  been  forcibly  conscripting
civilians  for  porter  duty  in counter-insurgency operations. The
extensive use of  forced  labour  in   large  scale  infrastructure
projects  have  been  reported  only  in recent years [19]. Various
ambitious  development projects are announced and  carried  out  as
public  movements  [20].  As  sources  reports,  government  use of
forced-unpaid labour has been widespread throughout the country  in
building airports, constructions of roads and railways [21].

Reports  in  early April 1994 confirm the large scale use of forced
labour in construction of 110 miles rail route,  know  as  Ye-Tavoy
railway,  in  Tennasserim Division in southern Burma. The villagers
living in the vicinity of this railway are ordered  to   clear  the
route, build military encampments and  make earthen embankments for
construction.  Each  household in the villages  has to work 15 days
a month at the construction sites and fees have never   been  paid.
The  government's  practice  of  using  forced and long-term unpaid
labour  in  its  development  projects   disrupt   the   livelihood
activities  of villagers; and the local  people are being forced to
abandon their former inhabitant  as  life  become  impossible,  one
refugee told the CPPSM [22]:

      "We  were  continuously  required  to  work  in  the  railway
      construction and we didn't even have time to do our own  jobs
      to  survive.  Again,  we  had  to  work  very tiredly for the
      railway. We couldn't afford to work on for  the  unpaid  hard
      job and so decided to flee away."

Local military authorities enforce the order to do unpaid labour by
threatening  villagers  to  punish  should  they  evade  the duty.A
refugee  told the military authorities punish his family members as
a result of him failing to turn up at work site [23]:

      "Then the soldiers came to my house and poked my wife in  the
      side  with a rifle butt. They kicked her hard in the stomach,
      and she vomited blood. Then they kicked my baby son down into
      the fire, and all the  hair  on  his  head  was  burnt.  They
      slapped  my 7-year old son in the face and he cried out. They
      beat them because I had escaped."

Villagers  are  forced  to  sleep at the road side without adequate
shelters; the  military   guarding  them  day  and  night.  Working
condition  is  inhumane  and  medical  attention  and  food for the
workers have never been provided  by  the  authorities:  conditions
that  one has been led  to  describe only as the enslavement of the
villagers. A refugee told his experience as [24]:

      "They guarded us carefully because  they  were  worried  that
      someone   might  escape. Sometimes people tried to escape and
      were caught, and the soldiers beat them up severely. Sometimes
      they beat them with wood, sometimes  they  kicked,  sometimes
      they  punched,  until the people were bleeding from the head,
      and some of them were bleeding seriously.  \ABR  No  one  was
      killed by beatings, but one or two men died from sickness and
      exhaustion. The soldiers never gave any medical care. \ABR At
      night  we  just  made  a  fire  and  slept  on the ground. We
      couldn't build a shelter because we didn't have time, and  we
      were  in  a  different  place  every night. We had no mats to
      sleep on, just the bare  ground.  The  soldiers  were  always
      around  the  whole  night, guarding us closely. We had to ask
      permission to go to the toilet. They didn't follow us, but we
      didn't dare try to escape because there were other groups  of
      soldiers nearby."

The local communities has also been coerced to hire equipment  from
the  railways  construction  authorities. Both technical management
and local military authorities hired bulldozers and sell  the  fuel
to villagers for use in the railway construction. The CPPSM reports

      "These  5  bulldozer  machines,  the  fuel  and the nails are
      likely to be the only  materials  supported  by  the  central
      SLORC   government  through  its  local  military authorities
      for the construction of the railway and the local encampments
      along the railway line. Whatever it has  been,  it  is  clear
      that even this inconsiderable quantity of material support of
      the  central  SLORC  has  already been misappropriated by its
      widely corrupt and unscrupulous  local  military  authorities
      and  technical  management  of  the  railway construction for
      their personal benefit."

In other settings [26], the military forcibly conscripted villagers
for  use  in  guarding  roads,  building  military  encampments and
transporting military equipments. Little information was  given  to
the villagers about their assignments and fees have never been paid
to  the  porters.  Such constant harassment by military authorities
brought anxiety  and  further  insecurity  to  the  life  of  rural
populace. A refugee told KHRG [27]:

      "There used to be over 100 houses in my  village,  but   many
      people  have  run  away and now there are only 10 house left.
      The soldiers often ask for  10 or 20 porters every month. One
      porter had to go from each house,  sometimes  including  many
      women.  The SLORC  also grabbed people to be porters whenever
      they  came  to  ask  for money and we couldn't pay. Sometimes
      I've been a porter for 1 or 2  days,  sometimes  for  over  a
      month.  We  had to carry rice, ammunition, salt, chillies and
      sugar, and we also have to carry the soldiers' clothes. I was
      very afraid to them all the time."

The  military  authorities ensure the villagers comply the order to
do slave labour by intimidation, as one Burmese trader testified [28]:

      "Once when Tha Mo village refused to go for slave labour they
      sent a package to the village head with a message  that  said
      ``You figure out what it means." When the village head opened
      it  he  saw  one  red  chillie,  ane bullet, and one piece of
      charcoal. At first no one understood it  ,  but  then  people
      guessed  that the chillie is very hot, so it means we have to
      suffer a hot situation and  a  great  deal  of  trouble,  the
      bullet means they will shoot us and kill us, and the charcoal
      means  they  will  burn  down  our  village.  After that, the
      villagers were very afraid to refuse again."

2.1.3  Informal taxations and Extortions:
Since the military seized state power in 1988,  the  administrative
duties   have   been  carried  out  by  the  local  Law  and  Order
Restoration Council (LORC). As the central authorities  loosen  its
grip on power, the LORC become increasingly powerful and  the local
offices  become  autonomous  centers  for  administrative  affairs.
Reported  since  1992  are  the  incidences  of  local   commanders
collecting  informal  taxes   in  an  attempt  to  fill  government
coffers [29].

Such  frequent and unreasonable taxation has  also  contributed  to
the  hardship  of  the  local population. These informal taxes were
collected  usually  by  local  LORC  in   the   name   of   `porter
fees',`courier fees', `educational fees', `development fees', etc..
The  excessiveness  of such collections may be clear from the  fact
that  the  villagers  in  those  areas  are  normally   living   on
subsistence  incomes.  Although  the  `porter  fees'  are regularly
demanded  from the public, the porters  themselves have never been
paid for their work. Local military  authorities seize villagers who
cannot pay porter fees or evade porter   duty,  and  demand  ransom
monies. One villager told the  KHRG [30]:

      "Sometimes we had to send 4  or  5  porters  at  a  time  and
      sometimes  15  porters,  depending  on  what the soldiers are
      doing. We tried to hire people  to  go  in  our  places.  For
      long-time  porters  it  costs  us 1,000 Kyat, for medium-time
      porters 500 Kyat, and for short time porters 100 or 200 Kyat.
      The soldiers also collect `porter fees' as often as 4  or   5
      times  a  month.  I  don't know what they use that money for.
      Sometimes when they enter the village they also catch  people
      and  take  them  away,  and we have to pay a ransom of 500 or
      1,000  Kyat before they release them."

The  authorities' imposition of the informal  taxes, such as porter
fees, that are excessive in total amount has forced  the  villagers
to  resort  to selling their possessions and finally fleeing to the
refugee camps at the border. A refugee described his experience [31]:

      "In my village I fed my children by working my field, but now
      I have no farm to work. I had to pay porter fees so I had  to
      sell  my field. My father lived by working the fields, and my
      grandmother gave me that field, but I had to sell it  to  get
      the  money. I have 3 brothers, and my grandmother gave us one
      field each. We all sold our fields at  the  same  time,  last
      year. We got 30,000 Kyat altogether. Since then I had to work
      the fields for other as a laborer, but only got 10 or 20 Kyat
      a day and all that went to porter fees. I couldn't support my
      family  that way so I came here. After I sold the field I had
      nothing anymore."

The military authorities ensures the payments and demands  are  met
by  threatening  villagers  with punishment and, even, to force the
whole village to move. One villager told his experience [32]:

      "Troops from 36 Battalion arrived at our village on April 30,
      1994. They stole 8 pots and one pig, just as if it were their
      own. They steal so many things from us - they've also ordered
      1,000  shingles  of  leaf roofing and 20 cattle carts, and we
      have to send it all by May 15.  Whenever  they  come  to  the
      village  ,  all  the  girls  have  to  hide  away because the
      soldiers always  give  them  trouble.  T---  army  camp  also
      demanded  75  tons of logs from us. The log circumference has
      to be 2 feet to 4 feet, and they must be 10 feet  long.  They
      said if we don't send these on time, we will be forced to move
      within one week."

2.1.4  Civilians targeted in military operation:
The flagrant disregard of humanitarian laws by Burmese army has also
been  a major contributor in the deterioration of the human  rights
situation  in minority areas. The use of non-combatant civilians in
military operations, such as forced porterage, surveillance support
duties, clearing of mines and, sometimes, civilians being forced to
march  in   front   of   military   columns   are   violations   of
internationally  accepted  humanitarian laws. One witness describes
the incidence of  civilians  being  forced  to  walk  in  front  of
soldiers in the minefield [33]:

      "The  soldiers  force  all  the  men  to  guard the road, and
      sometimes the men have to  go  in  front  of  the  troops  on
      operations  just  to  clear the landmines. One man from every
      village or group of houses has to go, sometimes  200  or  300
      men  altogether  because  there  are so many little groups of
      houses around. They have to walk in  front  along   with  one
      cart  pulled  by  a  cow. then the soldiers follow behind. No
      landmines  exploded near my village, but it happens sometimes
      in other places. The villager steps on the landmine  and  the
      soldiers just ignore him and leave him there. ...''}

In the event of skirmishes with ethnic rebels, the Burmese army has
been  known  to  attack  a  nearby  minority  village. One villager
describe  an  incident  where  Burmese  soldiers  took  revenge  on
villagers after fighting with rebels [34]:

      "One  day the two boys were just outside the village near the
      forest. The Karen  soldiers  had  attacked  the  Burmese  and
      disappeared into the forest, so the Burmese soldiers came and
      fired  their  guns  all  around the village, and shot the two
      boys dead.  Kyaw  Bwe and Kyaw Aye didn't know anything, they
      didn't even know how to run  away.  But  the  SLORC  couldn't
      catch  any  Karen soldiers, so instead shot dead two innocent

      After they killed the boys they came into the  village,  went
      directly  to  the  village  head  and beat him brutally. They
      interrogated him,..."}

The   military  authorities  demand  compensation  from  the  local
population in the  case  of  army  properties  being  destroyed  in
operation  [35].  The army threatens to shoot the villagers if they
refuse to pay. One villager told the KHRG [36]:

      "There was  a truck that  exploded  about  the  beginning  of
      February at Tah Paw, not far from a SLORC camp. At the time I
      was  on  my way home from Thaton town. The mine destroyed the
      truck, so the SLORC  ordered Tah Paw village  to  pay  60,000
      Kyat. They didn't want to pay, because their village only has
      50  houses  and they can't afford it or get the money. So the
      villagers just kept quiet and hoped that the SLORC   wouldn't
      bother  to  come  get  the money. But instead, the SLORC came
      into their village and shot their guns beside and  above  all
      the people to frighten them. Then they started shouting,`` If
      you  don't  pay  the  money  we'll  kill  all  of you in this
      village. " All the women, men, old people and  children  were
      afraid  so  they  started  collecting money among themselves.
      Some of them didn't have any money so they took the rice they
      had for the next one or two months, sold  it  for  money  and
      then gave it. After paying, people had no food to eat and had
      to  find  some  way  to get some food. At the same time other
      villages had to pay too: Noh Aw Hla had to pay 50,000, Noh La
      Plaw 50,000, Pwa Ghaw 50,000, Kru  See  50,000,  Pan  Ta  Ray
      50,000  and  Day Law Po 50,000. For just one truck they asked
      this much money - they are only coming here to  do  business.
      How can the people not get poor when they do this ?}

2.1.5  Extrajudicial executions:
To enforce the free-fires zones, the military  exercises the  right
to  shoot and to kill anyone  seen in the defined area. One refugee
told  [37]:

      "Three of my other nephews from Htee See Baw Kee village were
      also  killed  brutally by the SLORC troops. They had run away
      into the forest when the soldiers had come to catch  porters,
      and  they  were hiding in the forest for 2 weeks. They didn't
      even know the  villagers  had  been  driven  out.  When  they
      returned to the village without knowing, the soldiers grabbed
      them  right  away,  forced them to put on Karen army uniforms
      and shot them dead. \ABR  We know for sure that they  weren't
      Karen   soldiers,  just  innocent  civilians.  They  were  my
      nephews, and their names were Pa Thu, Thaung Ngwe,  and  Htun
      Thaung. They thought it was safe to go back to their village,
      but they were killed."

Extrajudicial  executions  have taken place, without due process of
examining the case, if persons suspected of  rebels  are  captured.
A  fair  trial  for villagers has not been given to establish their
claims  [38]:

2.1.6  Generalized violence:
In December 1993, the Burmese army launched an offensive on the drug
warlord Khun Sa in southern Shan State [39].  The  case  of  forced
porterage  by  civilians,  including  prisoners from central Burma,
have been reported [40]. There are also reports of local  civilians
in  southern  Shan State had been rounded up, detained and used for
porterage [41]. Amnesty International has also reported the forcible
returns of displaced villagers who fled into Thailand from fightings
and porterage [42]. The Royal  Thai  Government  have  consistently
refused  to  allow  the international NGOs and Red Cross to assists
these displaced villagers and refugees,  particularly  at  northern
Thailand.  The  total  number  of  refugees and displaced people in
Thailand  is approximately 420,000 [43].

2.2  Refugees in India and China
Student refugees who fled to India since 1988 are  reported  to  be
living at two camps located at Mizorum and Manipur States bordering
Burma.  Some moved further to the capital New Delhi and have sought
assistance from  UNHCR.  Since  April  1993,  about  100  Arakanese
Student  activists  in  Bangladesh also moved into Mizorum State in
India. Although smaller in  their  numbers  compared  to  those  in
Thailand,  Burmese  displaced  persons  can  also be found in every
border town in India [44].

There are also approximately 12,000 refugees from Kachin  State  in
northern  Burma  who had fled to China since 1992. Despite the fact
that the Burmese army  reached  cease-fire  agreement  with  Kachin
Independence  Army  in  early  1994,  there are continuing cases of
internally displaced people in Kachin State [45].

2.3  Humanitarian Concerns
The sad state of decline in  the  humanitarian  situation  for  the
general  Burmese  populace   also  deserves international attention
[46]. The continuing economic despair for the general populace  and
deterioration  in  social  service  infrastructure  due  to lack of
government's  financial  support  are  causing  the  hardships  and
insecurity  for all Burmese to increase;  recent UNDP report warned
Burma in the state of economic  collapse  [47].  Many  charged  the
western  countries'  boycott  on  aid  and   government's increased
expenditures on military as the major contributors for such a state
of decline, but the military's desperate  push  for  its  political
legitimacy  is also found to be a contributing factor.

There  has  been  a  continuing  embarrassment  amongst  the ruling
military elite since the United Nations designated Burma the status
of Least Developed Country in 1987 [48]. The military's admission of
such failure is apparent from SLORC  announcing  1992-93  as  ``The
Year  of the Economy", 1993-94 as ``The Second Year of Economy" and
1994-95 ``All-round Development Year" [49]. As already  reported in
Sec. 2.1.2, the implementation  of  various  ambitious  development
projects   have  caused  forced  labour for population. In order to
boost the economy,  military government set the production of  rice
for domestic consumption and export as a top priority; and launched
vigorous   campaigns   to   encourage   the   peasantry   to  adopt
multiple-cropping and the cultivation  of  summer  paddy.  A  total
output  of  675milion baskets is predicted for the year 1993-94 and
is said to increase to 900million baskets in 1994-95.

For many years, Burma's rural populace enjoy  relative  freedom  of
government's economic policies [50]. The rural economy is subsistence
in  nature  and  this  suits  the  village  lifestyle. However, the
military's recent push for such an increase in productivity without
proper investment in agricultural sector  has  led  to  the  forced
procurement  of  rice  and other primary products [51]. In November
1993, the student group in  Arakan  State   reported  of  the  near
famine  situation  for  rural  populace  - which the state of rural
poverty  believed  to  be  prevalent  throughout  Burma  [52].  The
apparent  moral decline of the rural families, which threatened the
social fabric of rural poor, is a direct consequence of the junta's
economic mismanagements.

The reported cases of increase in prostitution inside Burma and the
trafficking of Burmese women  and  girls  into  Thailand  are  much
attributed  to  this  deterioration  in  rural life [53]. The girls
reportedly sold to Thailand are originated from villages in Burma's
inland  areas,  such  as   Sagaing   Division,   which   show   the
deterioration   has   been  widespread  [54].  Since  the  military
government has made little or no effort to curtail this trafficking
problem, spreading of HIV/AIDS  becomes  the  immediate  threat  to
rural  communities  in Burma. Furthermore, given the facts that  an
increase in prostitution  inside  Burma  which  combined  with  the
government's  effort  to  expand tourism for foreign dollars, there
has been a concern that Burma will become another  destination  for
the sex-tour.

The  increase  of  illegal  drug use in Shan State and Kachin State
also needs attention. According to reports, the spread of  HIV/AIDS
amongst  intravenous  drug  users has been at an alarming situation
[55]. The general situation for women and children, along with  the
internally displaced people throughout  Burma, have been in a state
of overwhelming humanitarian needs [56,57].

Although   human  rights  abuses  are   the  compelling reasons for
displacement  of  much of the population that need urgent attentions,
the deteriorating humanitarian situation within Burma  should  also
be  addressed.  The international community must therefore be urged
to adopt an approach which tackles both human rights and humanitarian
concerns in Burma.

3.  The Root Causes.
The underlying root causes   for  Burmese  refugees  and  displaced
people,  as  explained  in  Sec  2.  ,  are  complex  in nature and
therefore require a complex response. A widespread abuse  of  human
rights,  that  perpetrated by authorities and sanctioned by  system
of repression, in the counter-insurgency measures can  be  seen  as
the  primary  root causes. Deteriorating humanitarian situation and
generalized climate of fear for general populace; the dire  poverty
and  insecurity  to  the  life  of  civilians that are generated by
political system must also be taken into account.  A  comprehensive
response  from all parties in the conflict, therefore, is necessary
to solve the refugee problem.

One obvious root cause has been the  long  standing  civil  war  in
Burma. The government's counter-insurgency measures are responsible
for   the  displacements  and  deterioration  in  the  humanitarian
situation. The use of  civilians  for  porterage  and  surveillance
duties  in  the  military  operation  has  also  contributed to the
hardship of  villagers. The military's  enforcement  of  free  fire
zones  is  also given rise to the serious human rights abuses, such
as torture and extrajudicial executions.

There may be some difficulty in seeing  the  government's  activity
such  as  taxations  on populace as a legitimate root cause for the
refugees' flights. However, as it has clearly been demonstrated  in
Sec 2.1.3 , this government policy is directly responsible for much
of  the  poverty  and insecurity of the life of local populace; and
the  practice  of  enforcing  this  by   means   of   threats   and
intimidations  have  caused the displacements. These types of human
rights abuses cannot be said as particularly serious enough to give
immediate threat to the security of a person.  But  the  cumulative
effect  of  such abuses have threatened the livelihoods and  caused
hardships and anxieties. Such cases do not normally conform to  the
notion  of  persecution  found  in  1951 Convention relating to the
Status of Refugees. However, these people are clearly  in  need  of
protections [58].

The  majority  of  displaced  Burmese  in Thailand are generated by
similar circumstances. With the viewpoint of Convention, it may  be
easier to establish the well founded fear of persecution for student
activists  and  the  ethnic  refugees  who are likely to be a close
relative or in association with ethnic freedom  fighters.  However,
people  who  fled  from  the hardships and anxieties that generated
mainly by the form  of  oppressions  described  in  Sec  2.1.3,  or
possibly  Sec  2.1.2,  will  find difficult to prove their fear are
being well founded; Rather  likely  that  they  be  charged  as  so
called  `illegal  and economic migrants'. Such arbitrariness to the
definition of refugees had already been pointed out in  Asia  Watch
report in 1992 [59].

Although  the obvious root cause for the refugees' flights, such as
the internal displacements and forced portering, are  stemmed  from
the  Burmese  Army's  counter insurgency campaign, the cessation of
armed hostility will not, therefore, guarantee a  safe  return  for
refugees.  The  practice  of  using  forced  labour  and collecting
excessive amount of taxes from the villagers must also be rectified.

Various NGOs [60] as well as opposition sources [61]  have  already
expressed  that  the  implementation  of  cease-fire alone does not
provide enough safety to the return of refugees.  It  is  concluded
that  the  cease-fire must be implemented as the first priority and
the improvement of human rights  and  humanitarian  situation  must
also be made for the safe and voluntary return of refugees.

4.  Armed Conflicts in Burma

Part 1 of 6.