UN Human Rights Envoy Visits Burma

Posted August 21st, 2011 at 4:00 pm (UTC-5)
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United Nations human rights envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana arrived in Burma on Sunday for a five-day visit to assess the human rights situation in the country.

Quintana is scheduled to meet with democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon on Wednesday. He last visited Burma 18 months ago, but was not allowed to see the Nobel peace laureate, who was then under house arrest. Subsequent requests to enter the country had been denied until now.

The Argentine lawyer will also meet with government officials in the administrative city of Naypyidaw and attend a session of the new parliament on Monday.

Quintana will present preliminary observations at a press conference in Rangoon on Thursday. His full report on the visit will be presented to the UN General Assembly later this year.

Aung San Suu Kyi had her first meeting with Burma's new president Friday in Naypyidaw. She said she was encouraged by the meeting with President Thein Sein, a former general who served as prime minister in the former military government.

European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton Saturday called the meeting an important step towards reconciliation of Burmese people.

The international community has widely criticized Burma's November 7 election, the first in 20 years, as a sham designed to keep the military in power. It has called on the new, nominally civilian government to release all political prisoners and begin dialogue with the opposition and ethnic groups.

Aung San Suu Kyi spent about 15 years in detention before she was released last November