UN rights expert wraps up visit to Myanmar

7 August 2008

The independent United Nations expert on the situation of human rights in Myanmar has wrapped up a four-day visit to the South-East Asian nation, his first since taking up the post in May.

Special Rapporteur Tomás Ojea Quintana, who was appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, had constructive meetings with the Government, including with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Labour and Home Affairs, according to a news release issued today in Yangon.

He also met with the Chief of the Myanmar Police Force, as well as representatives of the national human rights body, the National Convention and the Referendum Holding Commission.

The Special Rapporteur met with the Tripartite Core Group (TCG) and travelled to areas affected by Cyclone Nargis, including Laputta, Kyaukalat, Pyinsalu and Kyet Shar, where he took note of the progress made in the recovery phase in the aftermath of the disaster. A planned visit to Kayin State was cancelled due to bad weather.

While at the Insein Prison, Mr Quintana was able to speak privately with U Win Tin, Thurein Aung, Kyaw Kyaw, Su Su Nway and U Gambira. Meetings were also held with representatives of political parties, including the National League of Democracy – the party led by Nobel laureate and detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi – and the 88 Generation Student Youth (Union of Myanmar).

Meetings were also held with representatives of national non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including the Myanmar Red Cross, Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare Association and Myanmar Women’s Federation. He also met with members of the diplomatic community and the UN Country Team.

Mr. Quintana has already discussed with the Myanmar authorities the possibility of a second mission before reporting to the Human Rights Council next March. He is also expected to present his findings and recommendations to the General Assembly.

Meanwhile, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today that it has wrapped up distribution of some 600 buffaloes to farming households in areas struck by Cyclone Nargis.

Households in the Yangon and Ayeyarwady Divisions received a pair of buffaloes from the FAO thanks to funding from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

The animals, which received veterinary care and vaccination against major diseases, are aimed at helping small-scale rice farmers prepare their paddy fields in time for the planting season.

FAO veterinary expert Ye Tun Win said the buffaloes will indirectly benefit as many as 1,500 households and not just those who directly received the animals.

“Traditionally, farmers share not only their animals, but also their labour to help one another in preparing their land,” the expert said.


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UN human rights expert to visit Myanmar next week

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar will conduct his first mission to the Asian country next week after receiving an invitation to visit from the Government.