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THE UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN MYANMAR URGES THE MYANMAR AUTHORITIES TO IMMEDIATELY RELEASE PEACEFUL PROTESTERS

Geneva, 31 August 2007: - -The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Mr. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, is closely following the events in Myanmar. He believes that the future of the political transition process in the country must be directed by the people and the Government of Myanmar.

The Special Rapporteur deplores the arrests by the authorities of Myanmar, since 21 August 2007, of over 100 peaceful protestors following a series of demonstrations in the country against the drastic increase in the prices of fuel. He calls upon the authorities to immediately release the detainees and deplores that citizens expressing peacefully their views are being severely treated.

The Special Rapporteur expresses his serious concern regarding the launch yesterday of a hunger strike by a group of detainees, at the Kyaikkasan Detention Center, following the denial of medical treatment by the authorities for their fellow detainee who was severely beaten during the protest. The Special Rapporteur has received allegations that the detainees have been severely beaten and tortured.

The Special Rapporteur echoes the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ press statement, of 26 August 2007, calling on the authorities of Myanmar to immediately release de detainees and to engage in consultations and dialogue with the demonstrators on their concerns. He further urges the Governments of the Region to assist the Government of Myanmar to overcome the crisis.

The Special Rapporteur will contact the President of the United Human Rights Council to express his concerns and inform him about the situation. He hopes that the Human Rights Council can play and important role in this juncture.