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Rights Group Urges Pressure on Burma at UN Review

A London-based rights group is urging the UN Human Rights Council to pressure Burma to address alleged human rights violations when the body reviews that nation's rights record this week.

The group Article 19 says the ruling Burmese military is one of the world's worst violators of freedom of expression, despite holding a rare election last year and releasing pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Article 19 spokesman Oliver Spencer says the group has met with several members of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to encourage them to press Burma's delegation on freedom of expression.

The council will discuss the Burmese human rights situation Thursday as part of a Universal Periodic Review - a four-year long examination of the rights records of all U.N. member states, that began in 2006. The review gives Burma's military an opportunity to present its human rights report to the council's 47-member states.

Spencer says the Burmese election of November 2010, the country's first in 20 years, was "not democratic" because of the absence of a free press and electoral laws that made it impossible for opposition parties to operate freely. The Burmese military freed Aung San Suu Kyi from years of house arrest days after the vote.

Spencer also says a new constitution adopted by the Burmese government in 2008 will not enable democracy to grow because it guarantees the military a role in what he says should be a civilian government.