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Myanmar Has Not Lifted Human Rights Performance

Myanmar Has Not Lifted Its Human Rights Performance, Un Rapporteur Says

The human rights situation in Myanmar has not improved, with large numbers of people in detention, harsh sentences for peaceful political activities and restrictions on the operations of opposition parties, the United Nations expert tracking the issue says in his latest report.

In an interim report to the General Assembly, Special Rapporteur Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro says he has also received "credible and detailed reports of human rights violations in certain counter-insurgency areas in Myanmar" and is trying to clarify them.

Mr. Pinheiro says his report is limited because the Government has rejected his several requests this year to enter the country. His last mission was in November 2003. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Envoy to Myanmar, Razali Ismail, has also been prevented from visiting the Southeast Asian nation since March.

But Mr. Pinheiro says the concerns he expressed in his previous report remain valid, especially those about the failure of the Government to include opposition parties such as the National League for Democracy (NLD) in the National Convention held earlier this year.

"The necessary steps to ensure minimum democratic conditions" at the Convention have not been taken, the report states, adding that "if the Government wishes to promote a genuine process of political transition, fundamental human rights requirements have to be fulfilled."

The Special Rapporteur renews his call for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the General Secretary of the NLD and the winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, from house arrest and for dialogue to begin between the Government and the NLD. Apart from its headquarters in the capital Yangon, which re-opened in April, all of the NLD's offices across Myanmar have been shut, according to the report.

Mr. Pinheiro, who is appointed by the Geneva-based UN Commission on Human Rights, says there are continuing reports of arrests and harsh sentences for people conducting peaceful political activities, and his request for an independent assessment about the situation in Shan State has not yet been answered.

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