UN condemns ''ongoing violations'' in Myanmar

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{image-united nations_19062008.jpg news.oneindia.in}United Nations, Jun 19: The United Nations Human Rights Council has condemned ''ongoing systematic violations of human rights'' in Myanmar and called on the government to stop making politically motivated arrests and to release all political prisoners immediately.

In a resolution adopted without a vote, the Council yesterday also called on the Myanmarese government to fully implement commitments it made to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that it would grant ''immediate, full and unhindered access'' to relief workers to help people in need in the wake of last month's catastrophic Cyclone Nargis. It called on the government to refrain from sending victims of the disaster back to areas where they would not have access to emergency relief, and ensure that any returns were voluntary, safe and carried out with dignity.

The resolution, introduced before the Geneva-based Council by the European Union, also condemned the recruitment of child soldiers by both government forces and non-State armed groups and urged ''an absolute and immediate stop of this appalling activity.'' It also called for an independent investigation into reports of human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, acts of torture and forced labour, and called for those responsible for such crimes to be brought to justice.

The resolution also called on the government ''to engage in a real process of dialogue and national reconciliation with the full and genuine participation of representatives of all political parties and ethnic groups who have been excluded from the political process.'' Introducing the resolution on behalf of the EU, Slovenian representative Andrej Logar said previous resolutions had not been implemented by Myanmar and many political prisoners remained in detention.

The recent constitutional referendum was conducted in complete disregard of basic standards on such issues as freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, he said, according to information received at UN headquarters in New York.

Myanmar's representative U Wunna Maung Lwin described the resolution as politically motivated and lopsided and said powerful States were trying to influence matters through political interference.

He said Myanmar was working with the international community in the response effort to Cyclone Nargis, which struck the country on May 2-3, and was also making efforts on the political front, such as the recent holding of the constitutional referendum.

Mr Ban briefed the General Assembly yesterday in New York, and said overall the relief effort in Myanmar was continuing to improve.

More than 134,000 people died or were missing as a result of the cyclone and the subsequent tidal wave, and as many as 2.4 million people were affected and needed humanitarian assistance.

Mr Ban stressed that the humanitarian tragedy brought by the cyclone should not be politicised, and he planned to remain focussed on the issue, drawing on the efforts of his Special Adviser, Ibrahim Gambari.


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