Thursday, August 25, 2011

Burma’s Insein prison conditions better: UN envoy Quintana

Thursday, 25 August 2011 13:13 Te Te

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The UN special rapporteur for human rights in Burma Tomas Ojea Quintana told a meeting of National League for Democracy (NLD) leaders that conditions in the infamous Insein Prison in Rangoon have improved.

NLD central executive committee member Win Tin said on Wednesday, “While we were talking about prisoners, he said that he inspected prisons. The prisoners’ conditions, especially in Insein Prison, are better than before. He said, prisoners told him that conditions had improved considerably.”

UN special envoy on human rights Tomas Ojea Quintana, center, leaves the home of Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon on Wednesday, August 24, after meeting with the opposition leader for about one hour. Photo: Mizzima

Quintana met with NLD central executive committee members in Aung San Suu Kyi’s home in Rangoon on Wednesday afternoon.

In the meeting, Quintana said that if all political prisoners were released, the government worries that they might stage protests again, and that’s why an amnesty was delayed, according to Win Tin. According to figures compiled by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma, there were 400 political prisoners in Insein Prison as of May.

Before the meeting between Quintana and NLD leaders, Quintana met with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi for about 30 minutes. No details of that meeting were disclosed.

After the meeting, Suu Kyi told reporters, “He [Quintana] has a genuine willingness to improve Burma’s social conditions, and he has great experience, so I am encouraged. I see that we can rely on him.”  

Quintana visited Insein Prison on Wednesday morning. A source close to the prison said that he arrived about 8:30 a.m. and left about 1:30 p.m.

“When he arrived at the prison, the doors of the prison wards were closed. We could not go anywhere. About a week prior to his visit, things [some prison walls] had been painted, and the prison was cleaned. Today, we had slightly good curries [for the inmates],” said a source close to the prison.

Quintana will hold a press conference to discuss his visit on Thursday in Rangoon.

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