By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 13th March 1990:
Eight Malaysian MPs join international Parliamentarians to urge Burmese leaders to release Opposition leaders and respect human rights
Today eight Malaysian parliamentarians joined with their counterparts from Australia, Japan, India, the Philippines, South Korea and the United States calling on the Burmese government to lift all restrictions on Aung San Suu Kyi and other opposition leaders and to release the thousands detained for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of speech.
The eight Malaysian MPs are:
Lim Kit Siang – Parliamentary Opposition Leader and MP for Tanjung
Dr. Chen Man Hin – MP for Seremban and DAP National Chairman
Karpal Singh – MP for Jelutong
Lee Lam Thye – MP for Bukit Bintang
P. Patto – MP for Ipoh
Sim Kwang Yang – MP for Kuching
Liew Ah Kim – MP for Kuching
Lim Guan Eng – MP for Kota Melaka
The eight Malaysian MPs all signed a telex sent to General Saw Maung, Chairman of the State Law and Order Restoration Council. The parliamentarians stated that ongoing human rights abuses in Burma seriously undermined the prospect for free and fair elections, now scheduled for May 27.
“We are disturbed by the continuing arrests and imprisonment of thousands of members of the NLO (National League foe Democracy) and of other opposition groups and student organizations, and we are shocked by reports of the systematic torture of many of these political detainees,,” the telex read.
The parliamentarians expressed concern about the denial of a fair trial by military tribunals established to try the detainees. “In most cases, detainees have been tried and imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of their fundamental rights of free speech and association”, they said.
The parliamentarians said they were also deeply disturbed by credible reports of Burmese citizens and political prisoners being forced into porterage for the armed forces in areas of conflict, where they have been seriously maltreated and in some cases killed by the Burmese security forces. This action “cast doubt on your government’s commitment to protect human rights’, the telex read.
The telex was sent on March 13, the day designated by opposition leaders as Burma Human Rights Day. It commemorates the death of Maung Phone Maw, a student killed by the police on March 13, 1988, in an incident which is now seen as the beginning of Burma’s pro-democracy movement. During the 1989 anniversary scores of students were arrested after taking part in a demonstration which called on the government to guarantee the rights of freedom of speech and assembly, the lifting of martial law orders, the release of political prisoners and the reinstatement of civil servants dismissed for taking part in demonstrations. Most of these arrested remain in prison.
The cable that has been sent by the Members of Parliament from seven nations to General Saw Maung reads as follows:
“March 13, 1990.
General Saw Maung,
Chairman, State Law and Order Restoration Council,
Dear General Saw Maung:
As parliamentarians committed to the protection of internationally recognized human rights throughout the world, we write to express our condemnation of your government’s recent decision to disqualify Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains under house arrest, from funning as a candidate in the national elections scheduled for May 27 of this year. We are also troubled by reports that former Prime Minister U Nu has been placed under house arrest, and that NLD leader U Tin Oo has been sentenced to three years imprisonment on charges of “Subversion” following a summary trial by a military tribunal. We are disturbed by the continuing arrests and imprisonment of thousands of members of the NLD and of other opposition groups and student organizations, and we are shocked by reports of the systematic torture of many of these political detainees. Military tribunals that have been established by SLORC to try these detainees have denied them the fundamental right of fair trial; in most cases, detainees have been tried and imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of their fundamental rights of free speech and association. We believe that these abuses seriously undermine the prospect for free and fair elections in Burma.
We are also deeply disturbed by reports that Burmese citizens and political prisoners have been forced into porterage for the armed forces in areas of conflict, where they have been seriously maltreated and in some cases killed by the Burmese security forces. These reports have been corroborated by diplomats, journalists, and other independent observers, and cast doubt on your government’s commitment to protect human rights.
We respectfully request that you lift the restrictions against Aung San Suu Kyi, and allow her and all other opposition figures to fully exercise their rights to freedom of speech and association. We further ask you to release all persons detained for the peaceful exercise of those rights, including U Tin Oo, and to conduct fair and prompt trials against whom there is evidence of acts of violence. Finally, we urge you establish independent and impartial commissions of inquiry into reports of torture, forced porterage, and extrajudicial executions of civilians.
Member of Congress
Senator Claiborne Pell – Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Rep. John Porter – Co-Chair of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus
Rep. Gus Yatron – Chairman, Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Organisations of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
Rep. Stephen Solarz – Chairman, Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan – Chairman, Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Rep. Tom Lantos – Co-chair of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus and a member of the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs of the house Foreign Affairs Committee
Members of Parliament
Lim Kit Siang – Leader of Opposition
Sim Kwang Yang
Liew Ah Kim
Lim Guan Eng
Chen Man Hin
Lee Lam Thye
Member of Parliament
Member of Parliament
Rep. Philip Ruddock
Senator Chris Schacht
Senator Peter Baume
Rep. Robert Tickner
Senator Jean Jenkins
Member of Parliament
Kim Dae Jung – Chairman, Party for Peace and Democracy
Members of Congress
Rep. Edcel Lagman
Senator Wigberto Tanada
Members of Parliament
Bhadhani Shankar Hota