Tuesday, February 17, 2009

UNHR expert Quintana meets Myanmar prisoners

Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN rights expert on Saturday arrived in Rangoon, a six-day mission to take stock of situation in Burma's human rights situation.He last visited the country in August last year.He visited Karen state, where UN and human rights groups say the Myanmar junta committed atrocities against rebels and minorities. He intends to visit Rakhine state - home to the Rohingya Muslim minority, Burma's military government will let him see the detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the UN said.

United Nations Human Rights expert Tomas Ojea Quintana on Monday met five political prisoners in Rangoon's notorious Insein prison as part of his second trip to assess the situation of human rights in military-ruled Burma."He met five political prisoners, but we still don't know who they are," said the source, who is close to Insein prison.Quintana on Monday was escorted to the notorious Insein prison in Rangoon by a convoy of security personnel and security was beefed up in and around the prison.Quintana, who went into the prison at about 3:30 p.m. (local time), was seen leaving the Insein prison from the front gate at about 7:20 p.m. (local time), the source said.The source said, "6 p.m. (local time) is usually the time for prisoners to have dinner and it could be that he is observing the food given to the prisoners."But the source said, with prison authorities well prepared for the visit of the UN envoy, Quintana might be fooled if he judges the prison conditions by appearances.Prison authorities in Burma, according to sources, are reportedly busy cleaning up prison cells, supplying cleaner uniforms and better meals to prisoners as the United Nations Human Rights expert began prison visits on Sunday, sources said.The source said authorities have cleaned up the compound, re-painted the walls and supplied new uniforms to security personnel as well as to the prisoners reports burma media agencies.

On Sunday, Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN rights expert, visited the Pa-an prison, capital of Karen State in eastern Burma, where there are at least nine prisoners of conscience including popular blogger Nay Phone Latt, a prison official on Monday told Mizzima.

"Yesterday, Quintana came here and stayed around one hour from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m." the official said.

Thereon he had advised Myanmar rulers to revise domestic laws giving space to fundamental human rights and release an estimated 2,000 prisoners of conscience currently in detention. But jail sentences imposed on politicians, artists, bloggers and activists, to a maximum of ranging up to 65 years.

Burma generals advocate implemention of a seven-step road map to democracy,turn the country into a democratic nation after multiparty general elections in 2010.

Ms Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, not satisfied and is disappointment with a recent visit by United Nations special envoy Ibrahim Gambari, who failed to secure a meeting with Burma's top military leaders.

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