UN Special Rapporteur wraps up Myanmar visit


Yangon : UN Special Rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro wrapped up a five-day visit to Myanmar Thursday, after being allowed access to the country’s prisons, dissident monks and government officials.

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Pinheiro, who had been been denied a visa for four years, arrived in Yangon Sunday for an investigation into alleged human rights abuses during and after the government’s crackdown on protests led by Buddhist monks last September.

Before his departure Thursday night, the UN special envoy told journalists that the junta had “facilitated” his mission but he refused to give details on what he had learned in his interviews with dozens of jailed dissidents, pro and anti-military monks and various government ministers.

On Thursday, Pinheiro was allowed to visit Yangon’s infamous Insein jail for the second time on this trip.

He met detainees, including 78-year-old Win Tin, a political activist, journalist and poet incarcerated for the past 18 years in Insein.

Pinheiro’s visit followed that of UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari who was in Maynmar from Nov 3 to Nov 8.

Gambari was permitted to meet opposition leader and 1991 Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, and apparently arranged for her meeting Nov 9 with her fellow leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party which won the 1990 general election but has been blocked from power since.

Suu Kyi has been under house arrest since May 2003, and has spent close to 12 of the past 18 years in detention.

Pinheiro was not allowed a meeting with Suu Kyi. Nor did he meet Myanmar’s military supremo Senior General Than Shwe, although he did hold talks with other representatives of the regime.

Pinheiro is scheduled to meet Thai Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsongkram Friday in Bangkok.

Myanmar has been under military rule for the past 45 years. The international community is pushing the ruling regime to open a political dialogue with Suu Kyi and other opposition figures for a transition to a more democratic form of government for the country.