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UN envoy enters Myanmar for first time in year

Last Updated: Sunday, August 21, 2011 - 14:47

Naypyidaw: A UN rights envoy arrived in Myanmar on Sunday for the first time in more than a year for talks with senior government officials, amid signs the regime is seeking to engage its critics.

Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, was due to meet the foreign and home ministers in the capital Naypyidaw before attending parliament tomorrow, officials said.

The envoy has been a vocal critic of Myanmar`s rulers, enraging the generals after his last trip by suggesting that human rights violations in the country may amount to crimes against humanity and could warrant a UN enquiry.

The international community has called for a number of reforms in Myanmar including the release of around 2,000 political prisoners.

UN spokesman, Aye Win in Yangon confirmed, that Quintana had arrived in Myanmar on Sunday and would stay for five days.

He is scheduled to meet opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in the former capital Yangon on Wednesday, a spokesman for her party said, in what would be the first talks between the Argentinian lawyer and the democracy icon.

Quintana last visited Myanmar in February 2010 but was not allowed to see Suu Kyi, who was under house arrest at the time. His subsequent requests to return had been rejected until now.

Quintana`s latest visit comes after Suu Kyi met President Thein Sein in the capital on Friday for the first time, in the Nobel laureate`s highest-level dialogue with the
government since her release from detention.

An apparent thawing of relations with Suu Kyi saw the 66-year-old travel unhindered outside Yangon earlier this month on her first overtly political trip since being freed, addressing thousands of supporters.

In a statement ahead of his visit, Quintana said his mission "takes place in a somehow different political context, with a new government in place since April, following last year`s elections, and my main objective is to assess the human
rights situation from that perspective".

Bureau Report

First Published: Sunday, August 21, 2011 - 14:47

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