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Myanmar's human rights situation has regressed


Myanmar's human rights situation has regressed - UN expert

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar said today that when he compared the observations he made in March with those he noted in November, he saw "significant setbacks" in the country's human rights situation.

Presenting his report to the UN General Assembly's Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro said he had gathered prima facie evidence that a violent incident at Depayin in May that led to many arrests could not have happened without the connivance of state agents.

Accounts given by the Government and the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) have been contradictory.

NLD witnesses have called the 30 May violence a government ambush. A Myanmar representative told the Committee today that the incident had taken the government completely by surprise and that if the NLD had travelled under proper security arrangements, the incident would not have taken place.

Mr. Pinheiro said he had conducted interviews with victims and witnesses, including the NLD leader, Nobel Peace Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and with the authorities.

"What happened at Depayin has deep political implications and constitutes a regression in the area of human rights," he said.

Mr. Pinheiro called for the unconditional release of all who had been detained or put under house arrest, a thorough and transparent investigation into the incident and compensation to those who were injured and to the families of those who were killed.

He said he received reports that 109 of the 153 people arrested in connection with Depayin had been released, but then he was told that another 250 people had been arrested since.

The authorities at all levels agreed with his proposals for incorporating human rights and freedoms from the early stages of the transition from a military government to a civilian one, but none of the recommendations had been implemented yet.

He later told a press briefing that he wanted to emphasize the word "yet."

While Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was no longer being detained under "security legislation," her telephone was still cut off and the same security arrangements as before remained in place, Mr. Pinheiro said.

He told journalists that one of the arguments he made to the authorities for getting telephone service for the detainees restored was that they were elderly and should be able to call for help in health emergencies. No service had been restored yet, he added.


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