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The 3 June 1999 issue of "Far Eastern Economic Review" carries the
following in its "Intelligence" section, under the title "CROSS TO BEAR":

"The International Committee of the Red Cross has regained permission to
visit political prisoners in Burma. The ICRC pulled out of Burma in early
1995, accusing the Burmese government of hindering its work. This time,
however, Rangoon authorities say they're going to allow the ICRC to freely
visit 48 prisons throughout the country. But, according to reports from
Rangoon, the Burmese government is already busy moving the most sensitive
political prisoners to other penitentiaries, which the ICRC will not be
allowed to visit. The 48 prisons also represent a mere 5% of Burma's
900-plus jails."


This report contradicts the statement by the ICRC published on 6 May 1999
that it would "have access to all places of detention and to the entire
incarcerated population.'' (see Reuters report, below).

Jean-Michel Monod of the the ICRC said today (31 May) that he had not heard
of any such  restriction in the number of prisons the ICRC would be allowed
to visit.

If anyone out there, including FEER, has more information on this matter,
please post it on the Burma conferences or send to me (David Arnott) at


6 May, 1999 

GENEVA, May 6 (Reuters) - The International Committee of the Red Cross 
(ICRC) said it began visits on Thursday to detainees held at a huge prison 
near Yangon, its first ever such visits in Myanmar. 

In a statement, the Swiss-run humanitarian agency said that under the terms 
of a verbal agreement with Myanmar's ruling military government, the State 
Peace and Development Council (SPDC), it would have access "to all places 
of detention in the country.'' 

Four ICRC delegates began visits at Insein Prison near Yangon, believed to 
be the country's largest, according to Jean-Michel Monod, ICRC 
director-general for Asia. 

Monod, asked whether ICRC would have access to political prisoners, told 
Reuters in Geneva, "We will have access to all places of detention and to 
the entire incarcerated population.'' 

The ICRC said visits would take place "in accordance with the ICRC's 
standard procedures.'' Under these, officials interview prisoners without 
witnesses and may make follow-up visits. 

The ICRC closed its Yangon office in July 1995 after failing to persuade 
the military junta to sign a memorandum of understanding which would have 
allowed Red Cross access to political prisoners. 

Human rights organisations and the opposition National League for Democracy 
(NLD) party led by Aung San Suu Kyi have accused the Myanmar government of 
detaining hundreds of NLD members without trial and of curbing political 
activity in the country. 

Monod said ICRC was returning to Myanmar with just a verbal accord and no 
formal memorandum of understanding, as was the case for years after it 
first returned to Cambodia in 1992. 
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