Human rights abuses remain in Myanmar: UN


New York : The UN special adviser for Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, told the Security Council that the military government in that country has met some of the United Nations’ demands, but not on human rights issues.

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Gambari gave a mixed report Tuesday to the 15-nation council from his six-day visit last week to Myanmar, where he was snubbed by the country’s top military leader Than Shwe, but was allowed to meet subordinates, including Prime Minister General Thein Sein.

Gambari met opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who for the first time in years was allowed to speak out and meet government officials.

“On balance, the positive outcomes of this latest mission show that the government of Myanmar, while stressing its sovereignty and independence, can be responsive to the concerns of the international community,” Gambari said.

Despite high expectations for his mission, Gambari said the situation today is “qualitatively different” from several weeks ago.

He cited the start of a process that he hopes would lead to “substantive dialogue with concrete outcomes within an agreed timeframe between the (government) leadership and Aung San Suu Kyi.”

He said the offices of the UN secretary general must yield tangible results through patience and persistence and that encouragement should be given to all those, inside or outside of Myanmar, who can help improve conditions.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Monday after receiving a briefing from Gambari that he hopes talks between the government and the opposition will lead to “meaningful and substantive” results to resolve the political crisis triggered by pro-democracy demonstrations in September.

Both Ban and the Council have urged the military regime to move beyond the crisis in September when the military cracked down on demonstrations led by Buddhist monks, saying that a return to the pre-September state is not sustainable and acceptable.

They have called for democratic reform, national reconciliation, full respect of human rights in one of the world’s poorest nations and the release of political prisoners, including Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition National League for Democracy.

Gambari told the council that the government had arranged all his appointments to take place in the newly designated capital Naypyitaw, with one visit to Yangon, the former capital.

The government has already lifted the curfews imposed during the street demonstrations, withdrawn all visible military presence from the streets and released 2,700 people detained following the demonstrations, including 700 monks and political prisoners, 50 of whom were from Suu Kyi’s party National League for Democracy.

“At the same time, however, serious concerns remained about ongoing reports of human rights abuses by the authorities and the willingness of the government to move forward in a new direction,” Gambari said.

The military government has not agreed to lift restrictions on Suu Kyi and the best way for it to show real commitment to dialogue would be to release her “without delay so she can become a full partner in dialogue”, Gambari said.

The government has agreed to hold talks with Suu Kyi, but has not announced a date, he said.

The government has also not provided a clear timeframe for drafting the constitution, the holding of a referendum and elections.