This week's Democracy Forum features interviews with Burmese political figures on the UN human rights expert Mr. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro’s recently completed 12-day mission to Burma.
U Lwin, spokesperson of the National League for Democracy and the only representative of a political party invited to attend Pinheiro’s October 28 press conference in Rangoon, said he was not overly optimistic that immediate results would follow the UN official’s visit.
U Lwin does not think that the ruling military will accept Pinheiro's proposal for ICRC monitoring of human rights allegations. However, he appreciates Mr. Pinheiro’s efforts which he knows are sincere and well-meaning.
U Win Naing, a national politician in Rangoon, felt that Mr. Pinheiro’s decision not to visit the Shan state to look into the allegations of rape by Burmese soldiers was a blow to the military government. He believes that the authorities were preparing to make that visit a media event for international consumption.
The spokesperson of the Burmese government in exile, U Bo Hla Tint, said that he did not agree with Mr. Pinheiro on some of the statements made about Burma. First, he did not think the Australian-run human rights workshops are doing well in Burma, as stated by the UN expert.
U Bo Hla Tint quoted Aung San Suu Kyi as saying these workshops are a waste of time because they did not help to improve the human rights situation in Burma. Second, the NCGUB spokesperson contends that the suggestion by Mr. Pinheiro that the international community should review its policy of sanctions against Burma because only aid and expertise would help Burma move towards national reconciliation and democratization is unrealistic. He feels that it is only fair to maintain sanctions against the ruling military in view of persistent human rights violations in the country.