UN rights boss asks Myanmar to give "full account"

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GENEVA, Oct 2 (Reuters) United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today urged Myanmar's junta to give a full account of people killed and injured in protests as well as the whereabouts of those arrested.

Arbour, a former UN war crimes prosecutor, said the Myanmar authorities ''should no longer expect that their self-imposed isolation will shield them from accountability''.

She was addressing the UN Human Rights Council, whose 47 members were holding a special session on Myanmar on Tuesday at the request of the European Union.

''The Government must give a full account for its actions during and after the protests, including precise and verifiable information on the number of people killed and injured as well as on the whereabouts and conditions of those who were arrested,'' Arbour said.

''As the protesters have become invisible, our concern only increases for the safety and well-being of the monks, presumably confined to their monasteries, if not worse, and for the hundreds of people arrested...and for those wounded and removed from the streets to unknown locations,'' she said.

Myanmar has said that 10 people died in its crackdown on the biggest democracy protests in 20 years, but Western governments believe the death toll is likely to be far higher.

Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said ''thousands of peaceful demonstrators'' had been arrested.

He demanded to know how many protesters and bystanders were in hospital, whether forensic tests had been performed on bodies of protesters killed and where they had been buried.

''Are the monasteries occupied by the security forces?'' he asked.

Nyunt Swe, Myanmar's charge d'affaires in Geneva, said his country was taking steps towards democracy. He accused ''internal and external destructive elements'' of being behind the unrest.

Myanmar's government was ''determined to bring the situation back to normal as quickly as possible in the most peaceful manner, exercising utmost restraint,'' he said.

In a veiled reference to sanctions, he said the international community should refrain from taking measures which would ''add fuel to the fire''.

''Cooperation with the United Nations is a cornerstone of Myanmar's foreign policy... We will continue to work closely and cooperate with the United Nations,'' Nyunt said, noting that U.N.

envoy Ibrahim Gambari was in Yangon for high-level talks.

The EU presented a draft resolution calling on Myanmar to allow Pinheiro to conduct his first mission in four years, which was due to be voted on later in the day. Pinheiro said he stood ready to investigate.


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