Pinheiro meets political prisoners as visit ends

Nov 16, 2007 (DVB), United Nations special rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro was able to meet some political detainees in Rangoon as his visit drew to a close today, according to a UN statement.

In a press conference at Rangoon airport at the end of his visit, Pinheiro said that he had met a range of government ministers, as well as representatives of the government's Human Rights Committee and the secretary of the National Convention Convening Commission.

He also met representatives from national ethnic groups and the Women's Development Association.

After renewing his request on 14 November to meet non-government interlocutors, and in particular to be given access to people currently in detention, Pinheiro was finally allowed to meet political prisoners at Insein prison in Rangoon on the last day of his mission.

This was his second visit to Insein, having met only prison officials when he was there at the beginning of his trip. The special rapporteur has also visited the detention facilities at the Government Technical College and the No. (7) Police Battalion Control Command Headquarters in Kyauktan, Thanlyin.

Pinheiro also paid a visit to Htain Bin crematorium, where witnesses have alleged the bodies of protestors killed by authorities were taken secretly.

While the special rapporteur was able to meet with some abbots and monastery officials, he was not given access to U Gambira, one of the leading monks behind the protests who has recently been detained.

Pinheiro also met the UN country team, over twenty foreign diplomats and some representatives of international NGOs in the country.

Pinheiro began his mission to Burma on behalf of the UN Human Rights Council on 11 November.

His mandate for the trip was to find out the facts behind the public demonstrations in August and September and subsequent military crackdown.

Reporting by DVB

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