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UN Monitor: Burma Faces Obstacles Over Rights - 2003-09-12


A United Nations human rights representative says Burma's continued detention of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other activists is a serious obstacle to its development.

In a report released Thursday, the chief UN human rights monitor for Burma, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, says the Southeast Asian country's human rights record has suffered "serious setbacks."

Mr. Pinheiro says chances for national reconciliation took a turn for the worst May 30th, when pro-government groups clashed with supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi, and military authorities took her into custody.

Burma's military government insists the Nobel peace laureate is being held for her own safety, but will not say when she will be released.

Mr. Pinheiro's report is mostly based on a brief visit to Burma he made in March. The UN official cut his trip short when he found a listening device hidden in a room where he was interviewing political detainees.

Mr. Pinheiro says if Burma does not address human rights issues, he will support a recommendation to bring the issue to other bodies of the United Nations. This may include the Security Council, which could impose sanctions on Burma.

In another development, Indonesia says it plans to send an envoy to Burma in an attempt to gain Aung San Suu Kyi's release.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP.

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