ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
UN envoy sees ‘good signs’ from Myanmar
The new UN human rights envoy for Myanmar said he had seen “good signs” that the ruling junta accepted the need for his mandate to investigate widespread claims of abuses in the country, said AFP on Friday.
UN special rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana on Thursday told reporters as he wrapped up his five-day mission to Myanmar that the regime had indicated it would cooperate with his work.
“I would say that I received from the government good signs concerning the necessity for me to carry out this mandate,” he said at the Yangon airport before boarding a flight to Bangkok.
“I need to come into the country and to get to see the prisoners and to get to see the allegations about human rights violations,” he said.
Quintana said he was due to report his findings to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2009, and that he hoped to return to Myanmar before then.
Since he arrived Sunday, Quintana has met with political prisoners, top officials from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party and national police chief Khin Yee.
He was not allowed to see Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent most of the last 19 years under house arrest at her rambling lakeside home in Yangon.
Quintana said he met with Labour Minister Aung Kyi, who was assigned to coordinate the junta’s contacts with the democracy leader after a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests led by Buddhist monks last September.
The envoy also spoke with top disaster relief officials coordinating the relief effort for 2.4 million people struggling to piece back their lives following Cyclone Nargis, which left 138,000 dead or missing three months ago.
Quintana said in June that the human rights situation in Myanmar “has not changed for the better” since the last report by his predecessor, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, whose mandate ended in April.
Human rights groups, foreign governments and the UN have accused the junta of a string of abuses, including suppressing the democracy movement, persecuting ethnic minorities, imprisoning dissidents and violently cracking down on last September’s protests.
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