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25/1/99:COMMUNICATION ON CURRENT SI
POSTED 7-MAY-99, 6:00AM.
WISHING YOU A HAPPY
AND PREOSPEROUS NEW YEAR
Date: 25 January 1999.
Communication on Current Political Situation in Burma
#UPDATE ON UNGA RESOLUTION: The 53rd Session of the UN General Assembly
has passed its consensus resolution on Burma on 9th December 1998,
apparently without any modification made on the text. Unfortunately,
such insensitivity of UNGA preclude any political progress, particularly
the task of legitimi-sing NLD, by the democracy movement in this year.
In addition, we are compelled to helplessly watch the unlawful detention
of NLD-MPs in Burma since no mechanism is known for intervening such
situation. It is an early sign of what appears to be rather grim
situation for the year 1999.
The SPDC/SLORC since October'98 had relocated the detained NLD-MPs to
various military bases throughout the country. We received frequent
reports of inhuman treatment by military authorities to these elected
represen-tatives from inside sources. The SPDC/SLORC media also claimed
of the massive resignation of NLD members, of which opposition reported
as coerced resignations. Although intensive repression on NLD was
reported, ironically, there have not been any sign of SPDC/SLORC
disqualifying NLD party or arresting the Central Executive Committee
Despite a lack of international help, the CEC of NLD appears to be
moving things inside the country as much as they could. Of particular
values to humanitarian consideration is the NLD successfully organising
centres for rice donation and distribution to the most needy people in
Rangoon (see enclosed ALTSEAN Report). The fact these centres are so
successful that local authorities have sought to prevent NLD freely
distributing rice to the people. Instead, the local SPDC/SLORC demanded
the rice to be distributed at 20 kyats/pyi (market price is about
120-160 kyats/pyi). It would appears that SPDC/SLORC is making sure the
NLD does not make any political mileage out of such operations.
#US INITIATIVE FOR HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE: Despite the Year-1999 will
be an unproductive year in political front, the international community
has given us a glimmer of hope for practically helping the people of
Burma. Early this month, the US Congressman Tony Hall visited Rangoon
and met with both military leaders and DASSK (AAP report,17/1).
Congressman Hall is known for his strong advocacy for humanitarian
causes and was nominated for last years' Nobel Peace Prize. He is
reportedly recommending to provide humanitarian aid independent of the
regime and to be undertaken in consultation with the National League for
There is no doubt about the basic humanitarian need to the Burmese
population from the time current regime took over power in 1988. As long
as such humanitarian aid is provided independent of the regime, full
supports -- and co-operations if required -- from all pro-democracy
groups are to be expected. There has also been a possible model, of
which I have suggested in 1994 and appeared being abandoned, to provide
humanitarian assistance independent of the regime. Obstacles regarding
humanitarian assistance to Burma are not the objection from
pro-democracy groups or not having an acceptable model.
The main problem regarding humanitarian aid to Burma continues to be
the intransigence of the military regime not accepting the international
help (Asiaweek, 25/12/98). Given the record of the regime, the
international community will unlikely to have an easier passage for the
humanitarian aid, despite being made with a noble intention. It needs to
note that any plan for humanitarian assistance to Burma, just like at
any attempt to improve human rights situation, will require a
substantive political commitment from the international community. The
humanitarian initiative will unlikely to get a breakthrough in Burma,
unless intervention being made by international body such as UN Security
#OUR MARGINALISED ETHNIC GROUPS: In late 1998, there have been
appearance on electronic media of two politically marginalised minority
groups: the Rohingyas in western Burma and the Shan secessionist groups.
In an interview conducted by (***) an independent human rights advocate
based in USA, the Rohingya resistance leaders have expressed the view
that they wish to join formal political movement, such as NCGUB.
However, the Rohingya is considered by most Burmese as non-indigenous
ethnic minority group, although they have been in Burma for almost two
centuries. Therefore, we must ruled out the possibility of Rohingyas
joining in equal political status with other indigenous minority groups.
For Rohingyas, it may be more practical to consider solving their
citizenship issue and, whenever possible, improvement to their
There has also been a Shan exile group, [****], advocating a policy for
an independent Shan State. On the other hand, there have been Shan State
Army --recent merger of Shan United Revolutionary Army, Shan State
National Army and Shan State Army--which appears to be sympathetic to
secessionist cause (To note, however, I get no clear details of
connection of [****] with SSA. Further, it is not uncommon for any
Burmese exiled groups to make the false claims of connection with ethnic
guerrillas on the ground).
The dynamic of rebellion in Shan State, including that of claims for
secession from the Union, are quite complex historically. Nevertheless,
any secessionist movement in Burma will receive no support from the main
stream pro-democracy groups and will also be faced with resistance by
the Burmese regime. The secessionist causes, on the one hand, are to be
regarded as the main distraction to our ethnic federal movement. The
Federal Solution to Burma, in fact, is politically acceptable middle-way
between the Unitary groups, such as Burmese Army, and those of
secessionist groups. Therefore, the pro-democracy groups, including the
NLD, strengthening their stance towards a genuine Federal Union can help
reduce the potential for those secessionist groups.
#ABOUT THE CHILTON PARK INITIATIVE: International media in October
reported of a meeting of 40 diplomats around the world, including five
Ambassadors to Burma, that was held in Chilton Park, Kent, in Britain.
These diplomats reportedly elaborated the "new approach" to the
situation in Burma, with the involvement of United Nations and World
Bank including an offer for large scale aid package to Burma. Those
media reports apparently carried some truth, since US Congressman Tony
Hall has visited Burma. However, our pro-democracy groups should be
aware about the manipulation by certain media establishments, exploiting
this Chilton Park initiatives. Following is my obeservation.
The report of UN/World Bank 1 billion dollar deal to Burma was first
broke on 26 Nov 98 by International Herald Tribune(that article was
included in my communication last December). In that article, reporter
Thomas Crampton wrote,"In exchange, the NLD would agree to rescind its
calls to convene Parliament, and international funding would be opened
to Burma for the first time", including few other measures (see also
Professor Josef Silverstein's discussion on 5/1/99). Surely, no one at
the Chilton Park meeting, especially the UN officials, are in a position
to make such suggestion. (Although it is not unusual, to our knowledge,
for some reporters to write a pro-military line just to get permission
to visit Burma. In addition, any media report is to be taken with a
pinch of salt.)
Then again, the suggestion on rescinding NLD calls to convene
parliament is repeated in this month Asiaweek Editorial (report
enclosed). It appears that some media establishments have been pushing
along a certain pro-military line.
To the international community, especially to those Chilton Park
delegates, the NLD calls to convene a parliament is not an unreasonable
one. Any attempt to soften such NLD's demand will amount to unduly
thwarting Burma's pro-democracy movement. At this point in time, what is
needed to solve the crisis in Burma is not necessarily of a "new plan",
but a greater commitment from the international community. The
humanitarian approach has worth its try, but will have no success unless
it being backed-up by substantive political power, such as UN Security
#ON EVALUATING LAST YEARS' PROGRESS: There are significant achievements
by the movement last year, although the non-progress in UNGA resolution
remains to be a disappontment. One positive result would be our refugees
in Thailand receiving some measure of UN protection (for this, we -- the
Burmese -- are very grateful to the Amnesty International for their
worldwide campaign for refugees in 1997). The tightening of sanction
from EU, including visa ban on Burmese government officials, can also be
considered as a good outcome.
Our call to cancel the Japanese Government's debt relief grant to Burma
bring no results. The initiative made in early 1998 to divert the flow
of revenue from the Yadana project by PTT-EP/Unocal/Total groups has not
materialised. Media (again!) reported the SPDC/SLORC had already used up
the projected revenue until 2000-01. Nevertheless, it may be about time
to mobilise a campaign to bring the concerned parties to the
International Court of Justice.
The ILO report of Inquiry on Forced Labour in Burma this year may also
be considered as a great achievement, especially for those who had
participated in the inquiry. Further efforts to remedy the situation of
forced labour in Burma, including the SPDC/SLORC delegate to be expelled
from ILO, should be considered in this year.
Most important task this year would be the UN Human Rights Special
Rapporteur to get access to Burma. Our efforts in this regards in
mid-1998 still need to continue in the coming months.
#NEW CHANNAL OF COMMUNICATION TO YOU--the NetIPR: As a commemoration of
50th Anniversary of UDHR, I have organised a South Australian based
grassroots network to protect the rights of refugees in Asia-Pacific
region (brochure enclosed). In future, you may be communicated through
NetIPR for the Burmese refugee matters. The NetIPR will also seek to
address other refugee situations within Asia-Pacific region. Those who
particularly wish to receive various communications from NetIPR, please
inform me (For Burmese refugee matters, you will be communicated by the
The NetIPR, in many ways, will help streamlined my scarce resources to
communicate to our pro-democracy friends. Also I am concerned about
things much closer to home, of which I will be able make some
contribution through NetIPR. On the other hand, the situation of
refugees in Thailand, though now being under the supervision of UNHCR,
will require continued vigilance from our part. As records show, when
the host governments get tough on refugees, the UNHCR become buckled.
For this, our friends continuing attention will be most valuable.
With best regards, U Ne Oo.
EMAILS: drunoo@xxxxxxxxxxxx, uneoo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
POSTMAIL: Dr U Ne Oo, 18 Shannon Place, Adelaide SA 5000, AUSTRALIA
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