Junta rejects special rapporteur's findings

Dec 13, 2007 (DVB), The Burmese government has rejected United Nations special rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro's report on the September protests, which he presented to the Human Rights Council on 11 December.

Burma's ambassador in Geneva, Wunna Maung Lwin, accused the UN investigator of interfering in the country's internal affairs by criticising the regime's efforts to restore stability, and questioned the report's findings and recommendations.

Wunna Maung Lwin it was "disappointing that the report did not reflect the true situation on the ground and lacked objectivity and impartiality", according to an HRC press release.

He claimed that Burma had cooperated fully with the HRC and that positive steps had been taken by the regime, but said that constructive dialogue rather than public denouncements would be more effective in promoting human rights.

"Putting on pressure to politicize the situation could be counter-productive, and condemning, naming, shaming and blaming will not help to improve the situation," Wunna Maung Lwin said.

The Burmese permanent mission in Geneva had previously responded to Pinheiro's report on 9 December, stressing that the government had "exercised utmost restraint" during the protests and claiming that protestors and some western countries had taken advantage of the situation to undermine the regime.

"[The report] is replete with unfounded allegations based on unreliable sources and hearsay provided by dissidents and oppositions," the mission claimed.

Pinheiro's report, which was released on 7 December, was highly critical of the government's response to the public demonstrations in September and October.

In presenting his report to the HRC, Pinheiro highlighted the use of excessive force against civilians, which he said "may constitute international crimes and could invoke individual criminal responsibility".

He also drew attention to the "shocking" level of violence and abuse targeting monks and monasteries.

In his recommendations, Pinheiro called for the release of all those detained for peaceful political expression and an independent inquiry into the killings, torture, disappearances and other violations, and for those responsible to be brought to justice.

The HRC was due to begin debating Pinheiro's report yesterday.

Reporting by DVB

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