UPDATE (BURMA): Dr Salai Tun Than’s case was raised at the 58th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights 2002


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-27-2002
ISSUES: Democracy,

Dear Friends, 

“This as that I will be here between Myanmar Independent Monument and Yangon city hall until either the government agrees to my petitions or simply kills me. I am here offering my life for the cause of the rights of Myanmar citizens.” 

You might remember the above old Burmese professor’s appeal for democracy and freedom of Burma. Dr Salai Tun Than has now been jailed for petitioning to call on military regime to transfer state power to civilian rule on November 29, 2001. AHRC has previously released an urgent appeal, updates and also set up a website on Dr Salai Tun Than’s case. 

Under the agenda item 10: economic, social and cultural rights, the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), the sister organization of AHRC raised the issue of Dr. Salai Tun Than at the UN Commission of Human Rights 2002 session. We are sending you a copy of that statement was read by Ms. Asmin Franciska of ALRC at the 58th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights on the 11 April 2002. 

Meanwhile, we would like to urge you to continue to send protest letters to military regime of Burma to release Dr Salai Tun Than immediately and unconditionally. You can find more information about Dr Salai Tun Than at http://www.ahrchk.net/tunthan. 

Thank you. 

Urgent Appeals Desk 
Asian Human Rights Commission 


The oral statement by Ms. Asmin Franciska of the Asian Legal Resource Centre at the 58th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights on the 11 April 2002 

Item 10: Ecomomic, Social and Cultural Rights 

Mr. Chairman, 

On 29 November 2001 Dr Salai Tun Than appeared in front of Yangon Town Hall, Myanmar, in his academic gown. There he began handing out a petition calling for the military government of Myanmar to step down and allow for multi-party elections within one year. His petition urged the military to kill him if unwilling to meet his demands as “it is better to die than live under the military regime”. Within minutes he was taken away by members of the security forces. He has since been held in Insein Prison, where in February he was sentenced to seven years. He is now seventy-four. 

The Asian Legal Resource Centre draws the Commission’s attention to Dr Salai Tun Than’s case as a matter of economic, social and cultural rights rather than civil and political rights as it illustrates the indivisibility of all human rights. His case also speaks to issues of food security raised by the Centre in previous submissions. 

Dr Salai Tun Than is an agricultural scientist who devoted his life to rural development in Myanmar. For most of his forty years service he worked within state institutions, and received government awards in recognition of his efforts. In many respects he was the model citizen: science-educated, motivated towards the social and economic betterment of his folk, and without political aspirations. 

In 1993, after his retirement, Dr Salai Tun Than established a non-government organisation for agricultural development in the remote hilly regions of Myanmar. Although its work was highly successful and attracted the attention and support of international agencies, the organisation was not recognised by the government. Instead, its activities were subject to interference and its orchards destroyed by military operations. Dr Salai Tun Than was prohibited from personally conducting training programmes. Finally he was driven to protest on November 29. 

The Asian Legal Resource Centre has repeatedly drawn the Commission’s attention to the problems of food security and concomitant absence of fundamental rights to food and to work in Myanmar. Since presenting the 1999 findings of the People’s Tribunal on Food Scarcity and Militarization in Burma (E/CN.4/2000/NGO/61), the Centre has challenged the legitimacy of claims by the military government in Myanmar to be working for agricultural and social development (see further E/CN.4/2001/NGO/108 and E/CN.4/2002/NGO/66). 

The arrest of Dr Salai Tun Than reinforces the validity of the Asian Legal Resource Centre’s earlier interventions. It exposes the regime’s rhetorical pretensions towards economic and social development as fraudulent. It also demonstrates the patent absurdity of an authoritarian military government talking about fundamental economic rights first, democratization later. 

Dr Salai Tun Than spent his life working under the auspices of the state for the social and economic betterment of his people, yet at the instant that he moved outside its structure and attempted to operate semi-autonomously he became an enemy. In a society where any demonstration of independence is seen as a potential threat to the state it is no more possible to talk of protection of economic, social and cultural rights than it is civil and political rights: neither are guaranteed. 

In Myanmar the specious statistical indicators of agricultural expansion and economic progress projected by state agencies are all made a mockery by the seven years handed down to this seventy-four year old agricultural scientist. It is a sentence handed down not only against Dr Salai Tun Than but against all those with whom he worked and who benefited from his endeavors. Ultimately, it is a sentence against the fundamental economic and social rights of the people of Myanmar, for which the military government there must stand condemned. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 



Please send your letter to Senior General Than Shwe, chairman of the military regime and send copies to other officials and the UN Special Rapporteur on Burma. 


To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


I am writing this letter to express my great concern about the detention of Dr. Salai Than Tun, who was arrested on November 29, 2001 and sentenced to seven years jail under State Emergency Act. 

Although recently, there are signs of development to expect opposition leaders including Aung San Suu kyi to be released, this optimism is being undermined by the arrest of new political prisoners like Dr. Salai Than Tun and international isolation toward Myanmar may be continued. 

I appeal to you to immediately and unconditionally release Dr Salai Than Tun and all other political prisoners in your country. 

Sincerely yours, 



Senior General Than Shwe 
State Peace and Development Council 
Office of the Prime Minister 
Yangon, MYANMAR 


1. Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt 
State Peace and Development Council 
Ministry of Defence 
Signal Pagoda Rd 
Yangon, MYANMAR 
Fax (+951) 22950 

2. U Win Aung 
Minister for Foreign Affairs 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs 
Yangon, MYANMAR 
Email: mofa.aung@mptmail.net.mm 

3. Paulo S?gio Pinheiro 
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar 
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights 
Palais des Nations, 8-14 Avenue de la Paix, 
CH 1211 Geneve, SWITZERLAND 
FAX: +41 22 9170213 
Email: secrt.hchr@unog.ch (please mark ATT: MR. PINHEIRO) 

4. National League for Democracy 
97B West Shwegondaing Street 
Bahan Township 
Yangon, MYANMAR 

5. Myanmar Embassy/consulate in your country. 

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-27-2002
Countries : Burma (Myanmar),
Issues : Democracy,