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U-N Envoy Says Burma Slowly Opening Up - 2002-03-28

A United Nations human rights envoy says Burma is slowly becoming a more open society, and that the international community should encourage that effort.

The envoy, former Brazilian judge Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, submitted a report to the U-N Human Rights Commission following a 10-day mission to Burma earlier this month. In his report, he says the process of change in Burma is fragile, and that serious human rights violations persist.

Mr. Pinheiro met in Rangoon with leaders of the military government as well as opposition figures and political prisoners. He says he pressed the country's rulers to free more of those prisoners, many of whom he says were detained simply for expressing their opinions.

International human rights organizations say Rangoon still holds about 15-hundred people as political prisoners. The military calls them criminal offenders.

The government and detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi have been holding reconciliation talks for more than a year. Mr. Pinheiro says he met with Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi and found that she is not hopeless about the future of her country.