Thu 29 Sep 2005
Filed under: International,News
A UN human rights envoy has called on Burma’s military government for immediate reform by creating a freer political environment in the country and establishing democratic dialogue with opposition parties.
“The transition to a full, participatory and democratic system in Myanmar [Burma] can no longer be postponed,” the UN Commission on Human Rights special rapporteur on Burma, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, said in a report submitted to the General Assembly Wednesday. “Political and constitutional dialogue must begin without delay,” he added.
Pinheiro said that the exclusion of opposition parties from any
reconciliation process and continued detention of opposition figures, including Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic minority leaders, raise concerns for reform in the country. He also said that the release of 249 political prisoners from Burma’s prisons in July has been overshadowed by fresh arrests, detention and harsh sentences for democracy activists and civilians.
The special envoy also highlighted widespread reports of forced labor, rape and other sexual violence, extortion and expropriation committed by government forces.
“By instituting values of democracy and human rights,” Pinheiro said, “the government will send a clear signal to the people of Myanmar and the international community that it is actively committed to facilitating the creation of a stable and democratic future for the country.”
Last week, Burma’s Foreign Minister Nyan Win claimed the country is “poised at the threshold of a new era,” in a speech during the UN General Assembly in New York.
Pinheiro has been denied access to the country since November 2003, while UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s special envoy to Burma, Razali Ismail’s last visit took place in March 2004. Effectively barred from carrying out his responsibilities in Burma, Pinheiro said that he prepared the report based on information collected from a variety of independent and reliable sources.
A group of activists has been staging a 17-day hunger-protest outside the UN headquarters since September 18, calling on the world body to pursue the immediate release of opposition leader Suu Kyi and ensure political reform.