Written by U Ne Oo on 1994-02-14
Action Proposal for Burma( Internal Communication)
Date: February 14, 1994.
From: Dr U Ne Oo, Adelaide, Australia.
& Grousps: CRDB(Australia), T.R.W.(WA), Australia Burma Council, H.R.W.(New York), Burma Action(SA)
Note: Due to difficulties -financial and techincal - to organize public letters, I have made an informal communicaiton to groups and individuals who are already in contact with me. This communication is in essence my appeal to the groups and individuals. The groups can redistribute this document or take actions upon making your own political judgement. I appreciate very much for the individuals taking actions regarding this.
Call for Action: To write to Professor Y.Yokota, The Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Myanmar, Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland. Fax: 41-22-917 0123.
The Special Rapporteur will present the 1994 Human Rights report for Myanmar at the 50th Session of commission on HUman Rights early March. Please write to the Special Rapporteur:
1) To raise the issue of the internally displaced people in Karen State, eastern Burma.
2) To urge the authorities in Myanmar to compensate to the villagers who were forcefully relocated.
3) To recommand the International Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC) assess the humanitarian needs of these villagers (The members of Amnesty Internal, please cousult with the recommendations in AI Index: ASA 16/03/94.)
Since 1991, the Burmese military has been relocating villages in the areas where the ethnic insurgency is active. During 1992-93, an intensive relocation campaign was carried out in the districts of Thaton, Pa'pun and Pa'an within Karen State (See List of villages in Document 3). All the villagers are ordered to leave at short notice for concentration camp near the military outposts. The houses, livestocks and food left behind at the villages are destroyed for the army's strategic reason. Anyone who refuse to leave village or simply left behind was considered rebel and shot onsight.
The humanatarian situation for the villageers in the camps is egregious. There was no adequate food and medical attention(see document 1). Last June-August, there were mass exodus of refugees to Thailand as the humanitarian situation in those camps worsen.
The forced relocation and confinement of villagers in Karen State continue this year (U.S. State Department Human Rights report, February 1994) Sice normal farming activities of the villagers in these camps were restricted, the crop production has been low and the situation for these people is more serious this year (compare it with the situation described in December 1991 Report, Tennasserim Division, Document 1.).
The situation will continue to deteriorate as the Burmese military usually do not give attention to the humanitarian needs of people in these camps. This will gnenerate another exodus of refugees into Thailand in the next rainy season(May-October).
These conditions can be improved by urging the Burmese military to compensate all the villagers. It must also call for the ICRC to assess the humanitarian needs of people in the camps and urge SLORC to arrange adequate food and medical attention.
1) Burma Issue, Special Report December 1991.
2) Asiaweek, January 20, 1993.
3) List of Villages,the New Era Journal, No. 9, May 16, 1993.
4) The Economic, 5011 February, 1994.
Forthcoming Issues: CPA for Burmese Refugees in Thailand
Although the royal Thai Government is not a signatory to the international conventions regarding to the Status of Refugees, the RTG can enact a special legislation to protect refugees. The Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian refugees, for example, have the United Nations' protection under this special legislation known as 'the Comprehensive Plan of Action(CPA) for IndoChinese refugees' and get their repatriation organized by UNHCR.
According to Thai Internal Security Operation Command, there are as many as 350,000 Burmese have registered with authorities for their illegal entry to Thailand. Up until now, there is no legislation for Burmese to have protection from the United Nations. These refugees have to negotiate with the local authorities ofr their own safety. While NGOs can look after only a limited number of refugees' welfare, the Thai local communities are bearing the burden of Burmese refugees.
The RTG seems rather reluctant to make CPA for Burmese refugees since SLORC do not want the internal conflicts in Burma exposed to the international community. Such attitude is seen as Thais making favour for SLORC in the name of non-interference on Burma's internal affairs. Ofcourse, this make little or no comfort to the Burmese refugees, who are struggling for day to day survival in Thailand. Some refugees are working for 40 Bahts a day (Thailand's National minimum wage is 125 Bahts/day; a daily news paper cost 14 Bahts).
The Thailand's non-interference policy towards Burma and its handlings of Burmese refugees shoutowards Burma and its handlings of Burmese refugees should be judged in comparison with that of Bangladesh. The Government of Bangladesh also have a strictly non-interference policy, but not tarnished by the elements of insincerity. The problem of Burmese Muslim refugees was handled by UNHCR from the outset. The result is a peaceful and early end to the refugee problem: a Memorandum of Understanding was signed last October for the safe repatriation of Burmese Muslim reufgees.
The two governments (the RTG and SLORC) are non the less realizing the Burmese rrefugee problem invite ththe international attention and criticisms. Recently, the Royal Thai Government pressures the ethnic rebels along Thai-Burma border to enter cease-fire negotiations with the SLORC. The Burmese prodemocracy groups in Thai-Burma border are also immobilized. By noting the attitude of the Thais, there is growing fear that the Burma's ethnic refugees may be pushed across the border once the cease-fire strucks between the rebels and SLORC.
It may be far easier fo tthe Thais to solve Burmese refugee problem by forcing the ethnic rebebels to make cease-fire. However, such move will not serve long term political interest of burma. The cease-fire condition offered by SLORC encourages worlord-feudalism and will not lead to lasting political solution for Burma.
For all the good reasons, the Thais should consider handing over the Burmese refugee problem to the United Nations. The Non-Governmental Organizations should call for CPA for Burmese refugees in Thailand.
Burmese Women in Thailand.
An estimated 20,000 Burmese prostitutes are in the b the brothels in thailand. These Burmese women are lured into prostitution and held against their will in brothels. There are reports of widespread abuse of women, including forced miscarriage, beating and forced to sex with clients. It constitutes to a new form of slavery, as Asia Watch have reported.
The Burmese Government may probably respond about these women as ' Drug addicts & of Bad Characters' or no such problem exists. The truth is the continuing decline of economy that forced Burmese women into these brothels.
ThesThese women are more vulnerable than other Burmese illegal entrants. Since prostitution is illegal in Thailand, those women are unable to seek help from police and NGOs if they were abused. If an abused Burmese women go to police, she will be fined for illegal entry and deported to Burma.
Desperate as the situation may, the NGOs and international community must not ignore the problem. Burmese women problem is a problem that ignored by both Governments. the corss-border trafficking of sex-slaves should be brought to the international attention. The NGOs and Expatriate groups should consider to take action on this problem. QAn international inquiry should be call for these incidences.
HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE IS BORDERLESS IN ASIA
A Burmese artist's perspective of Nobel Peace Laureate's visit to Thailand last year. The SLORC's bad behaviour is actually inviting criticism for Southeast Asian Nations (source: New Era Journal, February 1993.)