Thursday, August 25, 2011

Four Burmese political parties discuss political prisoners with UN envoy

Thursday, 25 August 2011 21:09 Mizzima News

Rangoon (Mizzima) – Four allied political parties including the Democratic Party (Myanmar) met with UN special rapporteur for human rights in Burma Tomas Ojea Quintana on Thursday to discuss the release of all political prisoners.

UN human rights envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana
talks to the press at Yangon International
Airport on August 21, as he arrived in Burma
for the first time in more than a year for talks
with senior government officials. He has been
a vocal critic of Burma's rulers, enraging the
generals after his last trip by suggesting that
human rights violations in the country may
amount to crimes against humanity and could
warrant a UN inquiry. Photo: AFP
Quintana told the politicians that the government had a fear of releasing political prisoners, said Democratic Party (Myanmar) (DPM) chairman Thu Wei.

“We hoped for the release of the political prisoners, but he said that the government told him that they had a fear that a release would lead to social unrest again, when he discussed the issue with officials in Naypyitaw,” Thu Wei said.

Thu Wei, Democracy and Peace Party chairman Aung Than, All Mon Region Democracy Party (AMRDP) central committee member Khin Maung and National Democratic Force (NDF) chairman Dr. Than Nyien met the UN special envoy at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) office in Rangoon from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Opposition groups at home and abroad say that the release of almost 2,000 political prisoners is a key step in confidence building between the opposition and the new government. The issue has dominated Quintana’s current visit to Burma.

A member of the Democracy and Peace Party said, “The current situation has changed a little bit. They [the government] commuted one year from all prison terms first, and they recently invited opposition members in exile to come back home. The remaining issue is releasing the political prisoners.”

During his five-day visit to Burma to investigate the current human right situation, Quintana has met ministerial-level government officials, Parliament speakers and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. He left Rangoon on Thursday evening.

NDF chairman Dr. Than Nyein said, “As I see him, Quintana understands the current situation. He understands some things are leading to change. Previously, he strongly criticized the human rights situation in Burma.”

In his meeting with the four allied parties, the recruitment of child soldiers and forced labour issues were also discussed. No details of the discussion were disclosed.

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