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UN rights envoy visits Myanmar prison as investigation gets underway

[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Paulo Sergio Pinheiro [official profile] began his investigation Monday into the Myanmar military government's crackdown on protesters [JURIST report] by visiting Rangoon's Insein prison and a Buddhist monastery earlier raided by troops. Pinheiro arrived in Myanmar [JURIST report] on Sunday after the junta agreed [JURIST report] to allow the UN rights expert into the country. He had been blocked from visiting Myanmar since 2003. Insein prison is said to hold numerous political prisoners and former inmates claim to have suffered torture, abysmal conditions and long stretches in solitary confinement. Pinheiro also visited the Ngwe Kyar Yan monastery near Rangoon, which was raided by troops in late September in an effort to squash protests by Buddhist monks. The UN investigator also met with officials at the Religious Affairs Ministry and the Home Affairs Ministry where he discussed his proposed visits to several prisons.

The military crackdown on protests started in September when Myanmar [JURIST news archive] security officers arrested hundreds of Buddhist monks demonstrating against rising fuel prices and human rights abuses by the military regime. Protests only subsided when junta troops effectively locked down Myanmar's major cities. At least 10 people were killed when government soldiers shot into protesting crowds [JURIST report] and the government has said that some 3,000 people were arrested for participating in the protests. AP has more.

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