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UN Expert Meets Burmese Political Prisoners - 2002-10-28


A U-N human rights envoy in Burma has met with political prisoners at one of the country's most notorious jails to discuss reports of inadequate medical care at the facility.

U-N envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro visited the Tharadwaddy prison today (Sunday) north of the capital, Rangoon, as part of a 12-day fact-finding trip to Burma. Last week, he interviewed political prisoners at Burma's main Insein prison.

International human rights groups say Burma's military government is holding more than one thousand political prisoners, and allege that the elderly and sick are not receiving proper medical treatment.

Since his mission began on October 17th, Mr. Pinheiro has held talks with government officials, religious and ethnic minority leaders, as well as pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released from house arrest earlier this year. He is scheduled to meet with the Nobel laureate again on Monday.

The U-N envoy also spent three days traveling in Karen and Mon states to investigate allegations of torture.

Mr. Pinheiro is expected to report his findings to the U-N General Assembly next month.

The U-N envoy turned down an offer from Burmese officials to travel to northeastern Shan state to investigate reports the military uses rape as an instrument of terror against women and girls there. He said he did not have enough time to make a full evaluation of the situation.

The international community has condemned the Burmese government for its alleged forced labor and other human rights abuses. Burma denies the charges.

Information for this report is provided by AFP and AP.

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