Monday, October 22, 2007

Burma allows human rights visit

Mr Pinheiro has not visited Burma since November 2003
The military government in Burma has agreed to allow the UN's expert on human rights to visit after refusing permission for four years.
Paolo Sergio Pinheiro, who visits countries to check on their
human rights performance, made repeated requests to visit during that time.
Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win wrote to the UN

suggesting that Mr Pinheiro could arrive before mid-November.
The UN's special envoy to Burma is also hoping to be allowed to return soon.
Ibrahim Gambari is currently in India awaiting a visa.
On an initial visit just after the military's crackdown on mass protests in September, he met both the military and jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Key questions
Speaking from the US, Mr Pinheiro welcomed news of his invitation, telling Reuters news agency it was "an important sign that the government wants to engage again in constructive dialogue with the UN and the Human Rights Council".

Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said it was important for the UN to establish the true scale of Burma's bloody crackdown.
"We have to find out what has happened to these people who demonstrated," she told reporters in Ottawa, Canada.
"Where are they? How many - credibly - have been killed? How many are still detained [and] under what conditions?"
The timing of the invitation is significant because of a summit of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) due to open on 17 November, the BBC's Laura Trevelyan reports from the UN.
Asean has been severe in its condemnation of the Burmese regime's repression of the protests and if Burma can be seen to be co-operating by letting Mr Pinheiro in, that could take the sting out of further criticism, our UN correspondent reports.
Urgent visit
Mr Gambari is for his part hoping to try and start political talks between the Burmese government and Ms Suu Kyi.
The US Ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, has appealed for Mr Gambari to be allowed to return.
"We are calling on all those with influence to redouble their efforts to get Mr Gambari there as quickly as possible," he said.
"The Burmese have said he can come but at a later date in November. We would like to see that happen as soon as possible."
While in India, Mr Gambari is pressing for Asian nations to take the lead in resolving the political crisis in Burma.
Western nations are trying to maintain public pressure on the generals by imposing further sanctions and calling for political progress.
But diplomats say the Burmese government is most likely to respond to prodding from China and India, countries in the region with significant trade links, our UN correspondent adds.

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