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UA 229/92 - Myanmar: death in custody / fear of torture: Mohamed Ilyas, Fazal Ahmed

, Index number: ASA 16/008/1992

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 16/08/92
Distr: UA/SC
UA 229/92 Death in Custody/Fear of Torture 9 July 1992
MYANMAR (BURMA): Mohamed Ilyas
Fazal Ahmed
Mohamed Ilyas, a man approximately 60 years old from Myothugyi village near Maungdaw
town, is reported to have been beaten to death by soldiers on 19 June 1992. He was
taken into detention on 16 June. His dead body was returned to his relatives by
soldiers on 23 June, and was quickly buried.
A member of parliament-elect, Fazal Ahmed, and possibly two more
parliamentarians-elect whose names are not known to Amnesty International, are
reported to have been detained by the military at about the same time as Mohamed
Ilyas. They are apparently still in detention and there are fears for their safety.
Fazal Ahmed is a member of the National Democratic Party for Human Rights and was
elected to represent Maungdaw-2 constituency. Mohamed Ilyas was reportedly a local
secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD).
Reports on the background to these detentions vary. According to a Reuters report
of 5 July 1992, the four men were detained after they refused to go to Bangladesh
to try to persuade Muslim refugees who had fled from the Rakhine (Arakan) State to
return home. Other reports, however, suggest that they were detained as part of
a more general campaign by the Myanmar military to drive Muslims out of the Rakhine
State.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Over 300,000 Burmese Muslims have escaped from the Rakhine State and taken refuge
in neighbouring Bangladesh. They have fled from persistent gross human rights
violations committed by the Myanmar military, including torture, ill-treatment,
arrests on political and religious grounds and extrajudicial executions.
Reports of human rights abuses against Muslims in the Rakhine State by Myanmar security
forces rose sharply in early 1991, and they began to leave Myanmar in the thousands
to seek asylum in neighbouring Bangladesh. Those numbers increased dramatically
in late 1991 and early 1992.
On 28 April 1992 the Bangladesh Government and the State Law and Order Restoration
Council (SLORC), Myanmar's ruling military authority, signed a bilateral agreement
to repatriate all the refugees over a six month period beginning three weeks from
the date of the agreement. Apparently at the insistence of the SLORC, the agreement
did not provide for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to
be involved in the resettlement process. It did stipulate that no refugee would
be forced to return to Myanmar, however. Amnesty International has appealed for
no refugee to be returned to Myanmar until effective mechanisms were in place,
including the full participation of the UNHCR, to guarantee their safety. (See EXTRA
49/92, ASA 13/05/92 of 14 May 1992 and follow-up ASA 13/66/92 of 15 May 1992.)
The two governments signed another bilateral agreement on 7 May which sets out the
means by which the refugees would actually be repatriated. The repatriation was
postponed after Bangladeshi police fired on refugees who were protesting at the lack
of UNHCR involvement in the repatriation process. Since then, talks
between the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar have reached no conclusion, and
refugees have continued to arrive in Bangladesh from Myanmar.
Page 2 of UA 229/92
Parliamentary elections were held in Myanmar in May 1990 and won by the main opposition
party, the National League for Democracy. The SLORC, however, refused to recognise
the outcome of the elections and has retained power itself. The parliament has never
been convened.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/airmail letters:
- expressing concern about the reported death in military custody of
Mohamed Ilyas and fear for the safety of Fazal Ahmed, who is reported to be in military
custody in Rakhine (Arakan) State;
- urging that an immediate full and impartial investigation be held into the death
in custody of Mohamed Ilyas, that the results be made public and that, if indeed
he died from torture, those responsible be brought to justice and compensation be
granted to his relatives;
- requesting assurances that Fazal Ahmed will not be ill-treated in detention, and
that any medical assistance he may need has been made available to him;
- urging that if there are no recognisable criminal charges against Fazal Ahmed,
he be immediately and unconditionally released.
APPEALS TO
1) General Than Shwe Salutation: Dear General
Chairman
State Law and Order Restoration Council
c/o Ministry of Defence
Signal Pagoda Road
Yangon, Union of Myanmar
Telegrams: General Than Shwe, Yangon, Myanmar
Telexes: 21313 MOFARN BM
2) Major General Khin Nyunt Salutation: Dear Major General
Secretary 1
State Law and Order Restoration Council
c/o Ministry of Defence
Signal Pagoda Road
Yangon, Union of Myanmar
Telegrams: Major General Khin Nyunt, Yangon, Myanmar
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
Major General Mya Thin
Chairman of Rakhine State Law and Order Restoration Council
c/o Ministry of Defence
Signal Pagoda Road
Yangon
Union of Myanmar
and to diplomatic representatives of Myanmar in your country
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your
section office, if sending appeals after 13 August 1992.

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