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Pinheiro Plans to Visit Burma in the Near Future - 2004-04-30


Paulo Sergio Pinheiro says he has contacted again the Burmese Mission in Geneva for his planned visit to Burma sometime this year. The U.N. Human Rights Rapporteur on Burma's previous plan to make such a visit was denied by authorities in Rangoon saying they were busy with the preparation for the upcoming National Convention on May 17.

In an exclusive interview with VOA Burmese Service from his home in Brazil, Mr. Pinheiro commented on the political impasse in relation to the National Convention. He said: "I think that the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and political prisoners will contribute to a positive environment for the National Convention."

He also said it is very important that some basic freedoms like freedom of expression and freedom of movement be given to political parties in Burma. "At this moment, no political parties or groups are able to do that", he emphasized.

The U.N. human rights envoy expressed his appreciation of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's comments a few weeks ago. Mr. Annan reminded that it is very important for the National Convention to be a very inclusive one and an open process so that different parties with different opinions in the country would participate.

The Brazilian diplomat said he has been to Burma six times and in every visit he has received good cooperation from the government in his endeavor to open access.

Mr. Pinheiro added that he has proposed to the Burmese government to have an independent investigation to the Depayin incident in which the touring party of Aung San Suu Kyi was attacked by government-backed mob. He said that because -- in his words -- "I think it's in the best interest of the government to have a full clarification of what had really happened." That way, he said, the country will be able to move forward.

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