UN Envoy Meets Burmese Political Prisoners, Aung San Suu Kyi

Posted August 24th, 2011 at 6:55 am (UTC-5)
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United Nations officials say special investigator Tomas Quintana visited Burma's notorious Insein Prison and spoke with political prisoners on Wednesday, ahead of a meeting with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Quintana, who is charged with assessing the human rights situation in Burma, had not been permitted to meet Aung San Suu Kyi during previous visits, when she was under house arrest.

Aye Win, a U.N. spokesman based in Burma, told VOA's Burmese service that before the meeting, Quintana toured facilities at the Insein Prison, which is believed to hold many of Burma's more than 2,000 political prisoners. He said Quintana visited the prison's hospital and a meditation center and spoke to at least seven political prisoners.

Quintana has been in Burma since Sunday and is expected to comment on his findings before leaving the country Thursday.

Aye Win said Quintana was permitted to see all the political prisoners that he asked for by name. The spokesman did not comment on their condition.

Earlier this week, Quintana met with several top officials in the capital, Naypyitaw, including Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin, Chief Justice Tun Tun Oo, and Defense Minister Gen. Hla Min. He also attended a regular session of the new parliament.

This is the first time in more than a year that Burmese officials have granted a visa to Quintana, who angered Burmese authorities last year by proposing that the United Nations establish a commission of inquiry to look into suspected crimes against humanity.

Quintana said before setting out on his current trip that he wanted to see how the human rights situation has changed since the installation of a new, nominally civilian-led government at the end of March.