Mon 31 Oct 2005
Filed under: International,News
United Nations: The outgoing U.N. envoy for Myanmar said Friday he is pessimistic that a longtime diplomatic standoff with the military junta will get any better if the West continues its tough approach.
Paulo Sergio Pinheiro told reporters that “megaphone diplomacy” wasn’t working with the increasingly isolated regime in Myanmar, and said human rights victims whom the West could help are being held hostage to politics.
“I am frustrated, I am not happy with the approaches that the main countries concerned with Myanmar are having,” Pinheiro said. “If this course will continue, I don’t see any reason for optimism.”
Pinheiro has not been allowed to visit Myanmar, also known as Burma, since November 2003. Appointed in 2001, his term expires in April.
On Thursday, he told the U.N. General Assembly on Myanmar that the junta was holding more than 1,100 political prisoners, spoke of abuses against ethnic minorities and expressed concern about the house arrest of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.
During Friday’s news conference, he again faulted the regime but said it was unlikely to change in the current climate. He said that required a change in approach by the rest of the world.
Particularly frustrating, he said, was that Europe and others had not been able to persuade the junta to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross inside the country to see Suu Kyi privately.
“You engage and then you forget and then (there’s) another crisis,” Pinheiro said. “They must be consistent, they must have continuity and must be diplomatic. I am tired of strong statements of support to the people of Myanmar and Aung San Suu Kyi.”
Myanmar’s military junta took power in 1988 after brutally crushing a pro-democracy movement. In 1990, it refused to hand over power when Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory in general elections.
Pinheiro said the international community was forgetting about the human rights victims in Myanmar and had focused too much on isolating the junta.
“If you don’t have diplomacy, you cannot reach the government,” he said.