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UN: Ambassador Albright Critical o
- Subject: UN: Ambassador Albright Critical o
- From: freeburma@xxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 20 Dec 1996 13:49:00
Subject: UN: Ambassador Albright Critical of Burma Regime on Dec.12
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT CRITICAL OF BURMA REGIME
(Text: Remarks to the United Nations General Assembly)
United Nations -- Calling on Burma to stop abusing human rights, release political prisoners and start talks
with democratic leaders, U.S. Ambassador Madeleine Albright said December 12 that unless Burma stops
repressing its people the international community will continue to speak out against the government.
Addressing the General Assembly during a human rights debate Albright said that "it is increasingly clear that
the failure of Burmese authorities to respect civil and human rights is causing unrest within the country."
The more time that elapses before the Burmese Government changes, "the more the pressure will build, the more
divided Burma will become, and the more difficult it will be for Burma to achieve a peaceful transitions to
democratic rule," she said.
The current Burmese government is not meeting minimum standards of respect for the rights and freedoms of its
own people, the ambassador said. "It has subjected democratic forces to a kind of rolling repression in which
small steps forward alternate with crackdowns and episodes of intimidation and violence."
The General Assembly adopted a resolution without a vote urging the Burma Government to allow citizens to
participate freely in the political process; permit unrestricted access to Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San
Suu Kyi and other National League for Democracy leaders; release detained prisoners; and end torture, abuse of
women, forced labor, forced relocations and summary executions.
The resolution, Albright said, "reflects the hard-earned wisdom of the international community that every
government of every society should be held to certain minimum standards of respect for the rights and freedoms
of its own people."
Following is the text of the ambassador's remarks:
UNITED STATES MISSION TO THE UNITED NATIONS
DECEMBER 12, 1996
Statement by Ambassador Madeleine K. Albright, United States Representative to the United Nations, in the
General Assembly, on the Human Rights situation in Burma, December 12, 1996
The United States strongly supports this resolution on the human rights situation in Burma, and I congratulate
my colleagues from Sweden for the skill and commitment with which they authored and gained agreement to it.
This resolution reflects the consensus view of the members of the United Nations, a view premised on the
ideals of the UN Charter and the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It
reflects the hard-earned wisdom of the international community that every government of every society should
be held to certain minimum standards of respect for the rights and freedoms of its own people.
Regrettably, the current government of Burma is not meeting these minimum standards. It has subjected
democratic forces to a kind of rolling repression in which small steps forward alternate with crackdowns and
episodes of intimidation and violence.
The Burmese authorities, known as the SLORC, have refused to enter into a meaningful dialogue with the leader
of the National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi, or with other democratic leaders and representatives
of the major ethnic groups. They have continued to defy to their citizens the fundamental political freedoms
of expression and assembly. And they have engaged in torture, forced labor, forced relocations and summary
It is increasingly clear that the failure of Burmese authorities to respect civil and human rights is causing
unrest within the country.
Recent student demonstrations, although non-political in nature, have been harshly repressed. The Government
has periodically curtailed the right of Aung San Suu Kyi to address her supporters in public and even to leave
her home. Last November, her motorcade was attacked by a mob that could only have acted with official
authority and blessing. As we speak, the restrictions on her movements and activities are the most severe
since her release from "house arrest" in July, 1995.
Although the SLORC professes a desire to move Burma in the direction of democracy, it has not done so. The
Constitutional Convention it established to create the illusion of a national political dialogue is~ a sham --
fully controlled and orchestrated by the government. As a result, the Convention has been a source not of
reconciliation, but of further division.
Finally, the Government of Burma has refused to cooperate with the UN Special Rapporteur and with the Special
Representative of the secretary-General.
The Burmese authorities would like the world to believe that its harsh policies are necessary in light of
Burma's turbulent history and the multi-ethnic nature of Burmese society. But as the Resolution approved today
shows, the world does not accept that excuse. The right of people to participate freely in a democratic
political process is an ally -- not an enemy -- to national unity and social peace.
Experience tells us that the kind of stability that may be achieved through repression is sterile, superficial
and temporary. It is a stability maintained by fear, in which the human resources of a society are held back
and beaten down.
Lasting stability, economic prosperity and a rich cultural life come when people are free to make use of their
full talents and abilities. A society blossoms when those who govern respect those who are governed, and when
the people have confidence in those they have chosen to make and enforce their laws.
For Burma, the path to that kind of future is outlined in this resolution.
In it, we call upon the government to cease abusing human rights, to empty their cells of those detained for
political reasons, to permit UN representatives to visit, and to begin a genuine dialogue with democratic and
The more time elapses before these steps are taken, the more the pressure will build, the more divided Burma
will become, and the more difficult it will be for Burma to achieve a peaceful transition to democratic rule.
The international community would like to see Burma develop into a stable, prosperous and democratic society.
We would like to remove Burma from the list of nations about which we annually express concern.
But as long as repression remains the government's chosen means of conducting business with its own people, we
will continue to meet our~ own responsibility to speak up; and to assert the validity in Burma of the
universal and cherished principles by which all nations have agreed to live, and without which, no nation can
fulfill its potential.