11/15/2007, 00.00
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Pinheiro’s mission under “escort” ends

After a visit to Insein Prison, UN human rights envoy leaves Myanmar. Some monks report that Pinheiro only visited places picked by the junta. He met neither Aung San Suu Kyi, nor monk-led protest leader U Gambira, who risks the death penalty. China reiterates its opposition to sanctions.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – Myanmar’s ruling military junta is playing for time. In the meantime it took UN envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro to various sites where abuses where allegedly perpetrated during the September crackdown to meet top officials and some political prisoners. It has also not stopped arresting activists and monks whose lives are now at risk. For example, U Gambira, who led anti-government protests in late September and was arrested in early November, could be sentenced to death for “treason.”

Nothing seems to have changed in the regime’s leadership. Still, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human rights in Myanmar Pinheiro ended his visit. He had been tasked to verify allegations of abuses in the government crackdown on peaceful demonstrators two months ago.

Similarly, China’s position has not changed. Myanmar generals’ big ally reiterated its opposition to any kind of sanction against the regime.

Pinheiro’s mission under “escort”

After meeting various government ministers, UN envoy Pinheiro met a few political prisoners in Yangon’s Insein Prison, including Su Su Nway, a well-known anti-forced labour activist who was arrested on November 13 after weeks on the run. Sources close to her said that she had begun a hunger strike.

The Brazilian diplomat also met journalist Win Tin, 77, in prison since 1989, and a few members of the Generation 88 Student group, who had led many protests in the last few years.

Mr Pinheiro has said nothing about his meetings before he left the country. During his stay he did not meet opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, nor the monk U Gambira.

The Irrawaddy reported today that the latter was charged with treason for his role in the recent mass demonstrations, this according to his family. If found guilty, he could get the death penalty.

The overall impression is that this third UN mission, after the two by Ibrahim Gambira last month, has not had any real results.

“The junta took Pinheiro to sites it hand-picked. For example, his much publicised visit to Bago’s Kyakhat Wine Monastery, allegedly raided by soldiers, means nothing because the house was among those that opposed monk-led rallies.”

Junta continues to justify its actions

Also nothing happened at the ASEAN defence ministers’ conference where Myanmar reported on its internal crisis.

Myanmar’s Deputy Defence Minister Major General Aye Myint told the representatives of the Association of South-East Asian Nations that people arrested because of their involvement in the demonstrations were held only for questioning.

In an attempt to deny that Buddhist monks were ever killed by soldiers, Prime Minister Thein Sein challenged reporters at a press conference a few days ago to show him the corpses of those killed during the crackdown.

The junta can only continue its doubletalk with the international community because of the unwavering support of mainland China.

Assistant Foreign Minister He Yafei said that Beijing does not want Myanmar to become "another Iraq,” stressing his country's opposition to sanctions as a way of seeking reform in the country formerly known as Burma.

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See also
Myanmar junta resists, Gambari’s mission on brink of failure
UN envoy in Myanmar, visits monastery and Insein Prison
Demonstrations against China which holds the key to peace in Myanmar
Junta pursues its media campaign against Aung San Suu Kyi and Burmese monks
False Amnesty: Burmese activist arrested 24 hours after release


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