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UN envoy to meet freed Myanmar opposition aide

Last Updated: Thursday, February 18, 2010 - 14:10

Yangon: A UN envoy will meet the freed deputy of Aung San Suu Kyi`s party on Thursday on a trip to military-ruled Myanmar to inspect progress on human rights ahead of polls, the opposition said.
Tomas Ojea Quintana, on the fourth day of a five-day trip to the Southeast Asian nation, was due to meet Tin Oo, vice chairman of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in the former capital Yangon, they said.

The government freed 83-year-old Tin Oo from house arrest at the weekend. He was detained along with Suu Kyi in 2003 after a pro-junta mob attacked their motorcade, killing dozens of people.

Quintana will also meet Win Tin, a dissident journalist who was Myanmar`s longest serving prisoner until his release in September 2008, and five other members of the party`s central executive committee.

"Altogether seven committee members including U Tin Oo and U Win Tin will meet with Mr Quintana this evening. The authorities informed us already," NLD spokesman Nyan Win said.

Quintana has asked to meet Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi, who has spent 14 of the last 20 years in detention, but there was still no word on whether the ruling junta would allow him.

The Argentinean diplomat arrived in Yangon on Thursday from the northwestern town of Sittwe and was due to go to the notorious Insein Prison, where dozens of dissidents are held.

"He just arrived from Sittwe. He will directly go to Insein prison to meet with prisoners in there," a Myanmar official said on condition of anonymity.

On Wednesday, Quintana travelled to a prison in Rakhine state on the northwestern border with Bangladesh and met several political prisoners, sources said.

They included Htay Kywe, a prominent student activist serving a 65-year jail sentence for his role in mass protests led by Buddhist monks against the regime in 2007.

Myanmar`s generals have promised to hold elections in 2010 but have not yet set a date.

They have also continued a crackdown on dissent launched after the protests three years ago. The United Nations says there are around 2,100 political detainees in the country.

The NLD won Myanmar`s last election in 1990 but was prevented from taking power. Suu Kyi`s house arrest was extended by 18 months in August after an incident in which a US man swam to her lakeside house.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, February 18, 2010 - 14:10
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