Suu Kyi 'encouraged' by Quintana meet

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi met with United Nations Human Rights Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana yesterday afternoon and said she was “encouraged” by the meeting.

It was the first time that Suu Kyi had met with Quintana who has been one of the UN’s most outspoken critics of the regime and as a result had been barred from entering the country on his last attempt, after he penned a critical report.

Whilst on his last trip to the country he was not allowed to visit the Nobel laureate who at the time was under house arrest.

Suu Kyi told reporters after the meeting that; “I am really satisfied. I am encouraged to have seen him as he is an expert in this issue (human rights).”

National League for Democracy (NLD) spokesperson Ohn Kyaing told DVB that Quintana met one-on-one with Suu Kyi for about half an hour before meeting with NLD Central Executive Committee (CEC) members. Explaining to them that he was studying the human rights situation in Burma and had also given suggestions to the Burmese authorities regarding the rule of law and improvement of human rights earlier on his trip.

“Our general-secretary Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and deputy-chairman U Tin Oo also explained to him about our work programmes for the improvement of human rights in Burma and facts as far as we understand regarding the human rights situation among the people,” said Ohn Kyaing.

Suu Kyi also told reporters following the meeting that; “From my point of view, I think the president wants to achieve real positive change,” after meeting Thein Sein for the first time on the weekend.

Quintana also visited Insein Prison yesterday where he met with political inmates including Phyo Wei Aung and DVB video journalist Sithu Zeya.

Sithu Zeya was arrested after taking photos at the site of the Rangoon bombing in April last year. He was sentenced to 8 years after being tortured, which as a result lead him to reveal that his father, Maung Maung Zeya also an employee of DVB. He too is now in detention serving 13-years in Hsipaw jail in Shan state.

Quintana meanwhile also met with the NLD’s legal assistance wing in the evening where NLD spokesperson [and legal assistance wing member] Nyan Win said the UN Special Rapporteur had promised to arrange for a UN law expert to come to Burma and help the NLD fight a legal battle for their existence as a party after being threatened by the regime;

“Mr Quintana told us he’s no expert on law but that he would try and work out to send a [legal] expert to Burma to meet with us,” Nyan Win told DVB.

Earlier on his trip to Burma, the UN special rapporteur met with members of the government and advisors to the president. He also met with parliamentary representatives who asked him to set up an independent human rights committee in the country and raised issues on political prisoners and armed conflicts in ethnic regions.

He was also sent a letter by a group of ethnic parties who requested that he bring up the issue of, amongst other things, the prevalence of rape and looting, committed by the Burmese military in their on going operations against ethnic armed groups.

Quintana is to leave Burma this evening and will hold a press conference at Rangoon’s Mingaladon airport before leaving.

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