UN experts concerned at attack against human rights defenders in Myanmar

25 April 2007 – Two independent United Nations human rights experts issued a statement today voicing deep concern about last week’s attack against rights defenders in Myanmar, calling on authorities in the Asian country to conduct a thorough investigation.

Media reports say two human rights defenders were attacked and beaten by a large group on 18 April at Oakpon village in Hinthada Township, which is about 100 kilometres northwest of the former capital of Yangon.

Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, and Hina Jilani, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders, released a joint statement in Geneva voicing “deep concern over the brutal attack.”

The statement added that the reports received so far by Mr. Pinheiro and Ms. Jilani “have highlighted the level of violence and the absence of intervention by the local police to protect the victims and remind us of the circumstances surrounding the tragic incident of Depayin in 2003.”

Members of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) were killed and dozens of others were arrested and detained during a violent incident in Depayin in May 2003, which was described by Mr. Pinheiro in a report to a General Assembly committee later that year as “a regression in the area of human rights.”

In today’s statement Mr. Pinheiro and Ms. Jilani called on Myanmar’s Government “to take all the necessary steps to protect human rights defenders and to guarantee the peaceful exercise of fundamental freedoms by the people of Myanmar.”

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