UN rights council wants second mission to Burma

Dec 14, 2007 (AFP), The UN Human Rights Council Friday put fresh pressure on Burma by asking special envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro to stage a second mission to investigate abuses during the junta’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

The body, in a unanimous resolution, also asked the country’s military rulers to free all detained political prisoners, ensure basic rights and allow humanitarian workers unrestricted access.

It said Pinheiro should quickly stage a follow-up visit "in order to assess with greater detail the human rights violations".

At least 31 people were killed and 74 missing in the suppression of September’s pro-democracy protests led by Buddhist monks, according to a UN report presented by Pinheiro.

The report, compiled after a UN probe conducted between 11 and 15 November, said 653 people had been arrested and stressed that the official death toll was a gross underestimate.

Pinheiro was allowed back into Burma in November for the first time since 2003 by the junta. But he was not permitted to meet with detained opposition leader and Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has said that the world body’s patience with Burma was "running out fast" and urged "Myanmar’s leadership to be more pro-active in realising democratisation while fully protecting human rights and allowing Aung San Suu Kyi to be engaged in a dialogue with the senior level in the leadership in Myanmar".

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