Fri 28 Oct 2005
Filed under: International,News
Published October 27
Military rulers are driving Myanmar into further isolation and the world community, particularly neighboring states, must help find a constructive way out of the impasse, a UN rights official said Thursday.
Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the special human rights rapporteur for Myanmar, told a committee of the UN General Assembly that despite “grave concern about systematic human rights abuses” and the lack of progress toward democratic rule, “we must not give up.”
“I urge the international community to step up its assistance and not to retreat from supporting the people of Myanmar,” said Pinheiro, a Brazilian who addressed the assembly for the last time, as his mandate expires next April.
“It is our duty to direct our best efforts to find a constructive way out of the current impasse,” he noted, stressing that Myanmar’s neighbors had a key role to play.
“The current leadership appears to be driving the country toward further international isolation,” said Pinheiro, who has not been allowed to visit Myanmar since November 2003.
“The friends and good neighbors of Myanmar should demonstrate that this is a serious mistake, which is causing significant damage internally and is blighting the reputation of the region and its prospects for prosperity and stability,” he added.
He called for a coordinated international drive to pressure Yangon’s military junta.
“The United Nations and the international community stand ready to work in partnership with the government, the political parties and civil society organizations, to effectively and expeditiously facilitate national reconciliation and the transition to democracy,” he added.
Earlier this month, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) lawmakers urged UN chief Kofi Annan and the Security Council to take up the issue of Myanmar.
Last month, former Czech president Vaclav Havel and South African Archbishop and Nobel peace prize laureate Desmond Tutu also urged the Security Council to push the Yangon junta to reform.
The United States, Britain and France have expressed interest but China, Russia and Myanmar’s partners in ASEAN are cool to the idea.
Pinheiro on Thursday reiterated that over 1,100 people remained behind bars for their political beliefs in Myanmar.
Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party won 1990 elections but was never allowed to govern, has been under house arrest for much of the past 16 years — the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient.
Myanmar’s ethnic minorities are being subjected to gross rights violations while “the machinery of law, order and justice, far from upholding the rights of citizens, has been employed as an implement of repression and to silence dissent,” Pinheiro said.