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U N envoy praises release of Myanmar activist

Written by: Staff

GENEVA, Jun 7 (Reuters) A United Nations rights envoy today praised Myanmar for releasing jailed labour activist Su Su Nwei and urged the country to unconditionally release all its remaining prisoners of conscience.

Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the U N special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, called Nwei's unexpected release yesterday a welcome development.

Nwei helped prosecute two officials from her village in 2005 for using forced labour, a practice that is officially outlawed but believed to still occur in the army-ruled former Burma.

The 34-year-old was jailed in October after other local officials accused her of using obscene language to threaten the new village administration.

Pinheiro said Nwei's health in prison had been a cause of concern.

In a statement released in Geneva, the Brazilian professor asked junta rulers to release all other prisoners of conscience in the country neighbouring India, China, Laos and Thailand.

''This will be critical in facilitating national reconciliation and democratic transition, to which the Myanmar leadership has committed itself,'' Pinheiro said.

Last month, Myanmar imposed another year of house arrest for opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in prison or under house arrest off and on since 1989.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appealed to countries to ''bring pressure to bear'' on increasingly-isolated Myanmar to appeal for the release of 60-year-old Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.


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