Thu 29 Sep 2005
Filed under: International,News
A UN special envoy is pressing Myanmar’s military rulers to immediately release all political prisoners and to end serious human rights violations against the country’s ethnic minorities.
“The immediate release of all 1,100 political prisoners would send a powerful signal to the people of Myanmar and the international community that the government is seriously committed to a genuine process of reconciliation and to constituting a participatory democracy,” said UN human rights special rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro.
In a report to the UN General Assembly obtained Thursday, he welcomed the release of a large number of common-law prisoners and some political prisoners.
But he also noted that “the constant arrests, detention and maltreatment of civilians and democracy advocates continues.”
He renewed his call for the release of National League for Democracy (NLD) general secretary Aung San Suu Kyi, her deputy U Tin Oo and ethnic leaders such as Khun Htun Oo and poet/journalist U Win Tin.
Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and her deputy Tin Oo remain under house arrest and the party’s regional offices have all been shuttered.
The NLD won 1990 elections but was never allowed to govern. Many of its officers have been detained over the years.
Pinheiro, who has not been allowed to conduct a fact-finding mission to Myanmar since November 2003, said his report was based on information gleaned from a variety of independent and reliable sources.
He also noted that Myanmar’s ethnic minorities were still being subjected to serious human rights violations.
“Widespread reports of forced labor, rape and other sexual violence, extortion and expropriation by government forces continue to be received,” he noted. “Victims of violations rarely have recourse to redress.”
Tuesday the NLD marked its anniversary with a call to the military junta to heed the recommendations of the United Nations.
The appeal came one week after former Czech president Vaclav Havel and retired South African archbishop Desmond Tutu submitted a report to the world body calling for new UN efforts to bring reforms to Myanmar.
Havel and Tutu recommended that the UN Security Council adopt a resolution compelling Myanmar to work with Secretary General Kofi Annan in implementing a national reconciliation plan that would bring a democratically elected government.
In his report, Pinheiro, made it clear that the transition to a “full,
participatory and democratic system in Myanmar can no longer be postponed.”
He appealed to Yangon to initiate fundamental reforms with help from the international community and multilateral organizations, including reforms in the civil service, education and the judiciary, environmental protection and establishment of social safety nets for the most vulnerable groups.
“These reforms are imperative if Myanmar is to be successfully integrated into international financial and economic structures,” he warned.