[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]


<I>Date of Distribution: October 18, 1995.
   Forum: reg.burma@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, WWW</I><HR>

<H1>December, 1993: Letter to UN Dept. of Humanitarian Affairs</H1>

Dr. U Ne Oo
48/2 Ayliffes Road
St Marys, Adelaide

December 31, 1993

Mr Jan Eliasson
The Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations
    for Humanitarian Affairs
Palais Des Nations
1211 Geneva 10

Dear Sir,

RE: Humanitarian Assistance for the Burma-Rohingyas

I  am a Burmese national who presently residing in Australia. Until 1992, I
was working as a demonstrator at the Department of  Physics,  Rangoon  Arts
and  Science  University. I completed Ph.D. in Physics at the University of
Adelaide in 1993. Like many other expatriate Burmese, I have been  involved
in   the  movement  for  democracy  in  Burma  through  Burma  Action(South
Australia) and Australia Burma  Council.  These  views  expressed  in  this
letter,  however,  are  of  my  own  and  may not necessarily reflect those

First and foremost, I would like to thank you for  your  intensive  efforts
that  has  been made to reach the agreement between Myanmar authorities and
the Government of Bangladesh for the repatriation of  Rohingyas.  From  the
Asia  Watch report of October 9-1993, it is apparent that the Government of
Bangladesh as well  as  Rohingyas  wish  the  repatriation  program  to  be
completed  as  soon as possible. It is therefore appropriate for the United
Nations to assist a speedy repatriation for Burma-Rohingyas.

I presumed that the reception centre at the Myanmar side of border will not
have enough capacity to carry out such  speedy  repatriation.  Furthermore,
the  Rohingyas  will  have  serious  difficulties to resettle back into the
local community with their properties and villages destroyed.  I  therefore
support  respective  UN  agencies,  the  UNHCR,  UNDP and UNICEF, to form a
task-force in assisting the repatriation program.  On  this  occasion,  the
United  Nations  should  encourage  the  authorities  in  Myanmar to form a
Reception Committee consisting of various governmental agencies - The ARmed
forces, Department of Immigration, Department  of  Health,  etc..  and  the
members  of  the  local community - The Elected members of Parliaments, the
religious leaders, villages head men, etc. The UN task-force  should  shows
its  preference  in contacting with such a Reception Committee, rather than
local Law and Order Restoration Council(LORC) to carry out repatriations.

I also wish to draw the UN agencies' attention in regards to  the  ways  of
assisting  the Rohingyas. The status of Rohingyas have been a controversial
issue since the time they migrated to Northern Arakan in 1924.  There  were
incidences of various communal tension occurred between local Arakan people
and  Rohingyas  throughout our history. Therefore, the necessary precautions
should be taken in which the way  Rohingyas  being  reintegrated  into  the
local  community.  Therefore,  please  ensure  that the UN task-force gives
attention to both local community as well as refugees and,  the  assistance
on humanitarian needs also benefits the local communities.

There  were concerns among NGOs and Human Rights Organizations with regards
to the issue on the presence and operations of the UN agencies  (i.e.  UNDP
and UNICEF) in Burma. Their main concern is that the SLORC will promote its
legitimacy  through the involvement of UN agencies. Furthermore, SLORC will
also use such UN agencies involvements as a propaganda  to  the  people  of
Burma  that  SLORC  is  accepted  as  a legitimate Government by the United
Nations. There is also concerns of the UNited Nations' fund for development
may be channelled to the use of armed forces. While  the  need  for  the  UN
agencies presence in Burma is important, I would support the UN to set up a
guideline  and  also  code  of  practice  for  the  UN  Agencies that would
consistent with the recommendations of the Commission on Human Rights.

The guideline should meet the  UN  agencies  requirements  to  improve  the
humanitarian  situation of the people of Myanmar as well as the necessity to
promote HUman Rights. The  illegitimacy  of  SLORC  would  be  highlighted,
though  indirectly,  by  taking  measures  such  as  (1) formation of above
Reception Committee and;(2) the UNited Nations' Agencies  conducting  only
with such a committee.

The  guidelines  should  also  set in order to encourage the reconciliation
between the Burma's Armed Forces and the  civilian  population.  There  are
signs  of  the  Burmese  military  been  willing to reconcile with civilian
population and also to participate in  the  reconstruction  of  Burma.  The
United  Nations  should encourage such aspect of the military and civilians
working together under the auspices of United Nations for the  improvements
of humanitarian situation in Myanmar.

At  present,  the  UNHCR would be able to monitor the Rohingya refugees who
are inhabitants of Northern Arakan State.  Depending  on  the  success  and
acceptance  by  Myanmar  authorities on the concept of Reception Committee,
the United Nations should extends its humanitarian operations to all Arakan
State.  The  low  cost  development  projects  -  such  as  promoting   new
agricultural land - for small land owners may also be carried out.

The  United  Nations  should  also  find  ways to increase its influence on
Burma's  democratization  process.  Presently,  SLORC  shows  no  signs  of
transferring  power  to the elected civilian government. However, there are
possibilities that an Interim Committee, with  members  from  both  elected
parliamentarians  and  military  personnel, that may be formed to function.
The process of framing the Constitution, which may include  the  rights  of
ethnic  nationalities,  could  be  undertaken  from both United Nations and
Interim Committee. Therefore, the United Nations  can  assist  to  built-up
democratic institutions in Burma.

Finally,  I  wish  to  support  to  make  a co-ordinated plan of action for
Myanmar from all UN agencies, including UNHCR and The Commission  on  HUman
Rights.  As  a  citizen of Burma, I will give my personal assistance to the
United Nations, in any possible way, for a  peaceful  transition  of  state
power and building a democratic Burma.

Many  thanks  for  your  kindness  in  helping  Burmese people, especially,
Burmese refugees.

Your faithfully and sincerely,
Sd. U Ne Oo.
copy to:
(1) Ms Sadako Ogata, UNHCR, CASE  POSTALE  2500,  CH-1211  GENEVA-2  DEPOT,



26 January 1994

Dear Dr. U Ne Oo,

Thank you for your letter of 31 December 1993 and for your kind words about
the  United Nations' efforts on behalf of the Rohingya people. The concerns
you expressed have been carefully noted and many are shared by the  members
of  the  UN  system  that  are  dealing  with  this problem directly. I was
particularly pleased that you share my view that  it  is  the  humanitarian
concerns of the people themselves which must be the focus of our attention.

As  you know, I was engaged for many months in a process of dialogue toward
improvement of  the  conditions  which  forced  the  refugees  to  flee  to
Bangladesh,  and to ensure that their repatriation would only be undertaken
on a voluntary basis in conditions of safety and dignity. As you may  know,
as  a  result  of  these  and  other  efforts, on 5 NOvember, the UNHCR and
Myanmar signed a memorandum of understanding which  provides  for  a  UNHCR
presence  in  Arakan  State  during the repatriation operation. I hope that
this could be the first step in a process of  ongoing  cooperation  between
the United Nations and the people of Myanmar.

Yours sincerely,
Sd. Jan Eliasson
Under - Secretary - General
for Humanitarian Affairs

<B><A HREF="active.html"><=| Go to my activity page</A></B>