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Special envoy to return to Burma

Nov 1, 2007 (DVB), United Nations special envoy Ibrahim Gambari is to visit Burma from 3 to 8 November at the invitation of the regime, the UN said yesterday, followed by the special rapporteur in mid-November.

Gambari has recently completed discussions on Burma with regional leaders with the aim of coordinating an international response to the situation.

Prior to his visit, Gambari will meet UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon in Istanbul to finalise his agenda.

Gambari hopes to consult representatives from different areas of Burmese society during his time in the country, including those groups he was not able to see on his earlier visit between 29 September and 2 October.

He plans to support the regime in implementing the recommendations from his last visit, including addressing human rights concerns related to the suppression of peaceful protests and engaging in meaningful dialogue with detained opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Burmese junta has said it has already taken steps towards dialogue, citing the appointment of minister of relations Aung Kyi and his meeting on 25 October with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Gambari also hopes to push for a participatory constitutional review mechanism and a broad-based poverty alleviation commission.

Special rapporteur to visit in mid-November

Gambari's trip will be followed by a visit from Paolo Sergio Pinheiro, UN special rapporteur on human rights in Burma, on 17 November.

Pinheiro has been allowed to visit the country for the first time since 2003.

In a 24 October press conference, Pinheiro said that his Human Rights Council-sponsored mission would have a different mandate to Gambari's, but he stressed the need for cooperation and coordination with the special envoy.

Pinheiro's mandate is limited to investigating the recent crisis in Burma, and providing an "honest and objective picture" of the origins of the demonstrations, the details of the military crackdown, casualty figures and the fate of detainees.

Pinheiro expressed his dissatisfaction with ongoing human rights violations committed by the regime.

"What annoys me is that the repression had not stopped in a single moment, despite the universal appeal by the Human Rights Council, and the statement of the President of the Security Council," Pinheiro said.

He also said he did not believed the motivation for recent protests was political, noting that the initial spur for the monks to get involved was an attack on a monastery for which the government refused to apologise.

"I refuse to believe that the march of the monks was a prelude to revolution in Myanmar," he said.

Pinheiro will offer his recommendations to the Human Rights Council on his return.

Reporting by DVB


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