Saturday, February 13, 2010

UN rights envoy prepares for Burma visit

Saturday, 13 February 2010 00:25 Mizzima News

(Mizzima) - United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, Tomas Ojea Quintana, is set to visit military-ruled Burma next week, a trip originally slated to occur in November of last year.

In a brief statement released on Thursday, Quintana said he hopes to meet with National League for Democracy General Secretary Aung San Suu Kyi and other detained political leaders during his stay, while maintaining his call for the release of all political prisoners.

The envoy’s third visit to Burma will take place from February 15th to 19th, and Quintana will present his findings in March at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The trip comes at a critical juncture for Burma, as the country gears up for its first general election in 20 years.

“2010 appears to be a critical time for the people of Myanmar [Burma],” stated the envoy, “as the government plans to hold a national election after 20 years.”

Amidst widespread speculation that the polling will fail to be free and fair, Quintana stressed he will work toward ensuring respect for human rights and humanitarian law on the part of Burma’s armed forces, as well as securing government accountability and the independence of the judiciary.

The goals follow four key recommendations Quintana extended to the junta following an earlier visit to the country.

During his stay he is to visit Sittwe in western Burma’s state of Arakan. According to rights groups, ethnic Arakanese have long suffered a litany of human rights violations at the hands of Burma’s military authorities.