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No Burma visa for UN expert

Latest update : 2008-03-15

The UN special rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro said Friday that he had not been issued a promised visa to visit the country on a fact-finding mission. The outspoken diplomat accused the Burmese government of "accelerating" unlawful arrests.

The UN human rights expert on Myanmar said Friday that he had not been issued a promised visa to visit the country on a fact-finding mission.
   
A statement in the afternoon from the UN said that special rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro "announced that he had received the information that his passport was ready to be picked up.
   
"Later in the afternoon, he learned that no visa had been issued in his passport."
   
The dramatic U-turn came after Pinheiro's initial surprise during a morning press conference when he was slipped a note indicating that his visa was to be delivered.
   
"I have good news for you... Today the visa has been issued and my passport will be returned this afternoon," special rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro told journalists in Geneva then. "That's a wonderful surprise."
   
Earlier during the press conference, the outspoken Brazilian diplomat and legal scholar mocked Myanmar's claims it was committed to democratic reform, saying: "If you believe in gnomes, in trolls and in elves, you can believe in this process of democracy in Myanmar."
   
In a report to the Human Rights Council this week, the special rapporteur said around 1,850 political prisoners were behind bars as of January in Myanmar, and that the government had "accelerated" unlawful arrests.
   
He added that he had continued to get reports of arrests made in relation to sweeping anti-government demonstrations last year, as well as allegations of abuse relating to the arrests.

Date created : 2008-03-14

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