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Reuters AlertNet 8/17/07

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In Burma, UN Envoy Sees Saffron But No Revolution, No Kiev in Myanmar

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, October 24 -- "It's saffron, but not a revolution," the UN human rights envoy to Burma, Paolo Sergio Pinheiro, told Inner City Press on Wednesday. Mr. Pinheiro said Yangon "is not Kiev, and its not East Berlin... there will be no Orange Revolution." Triggering Pinheiro's six-minute explanation was Inner City Press' request for clarification of Pinheiro's quote to Portuguese news agency Lusa, that "I would not qualify the protests as a popular uprising and I see no possibility that they will precipitate a change of regime." Video here, from Minute 11:28.

   Piniero began, "Perhaps in Portuguese I was speaking too much." Other reporters reviewed Pinheiro's candor as rare at the UN; some thought it inappropriate that a UN expert would say that protesters being clubbed in the street then arrested have no chance of bringing about change. "I refuse to read the marching of the monks as a prelude to revolution," he said. He said that monks had been seeking an apology for an attack on a single monastery. The monks are inter-dependent with society, as unlike Catholic monks, they do not "produce wine or honey." But after the junta's "terrible mistake," the monks stopped soliciting or accepting donations from the military. "They refused the military a safe route to salvation," Pinheiro said, predicting that this might bring political change, but far in the future.

Pinheiro at the UN, in 2005. Plus ca change.

            Pinheiro said his trip to Myanmar will follow UN envoy Gambari's, but will finish before the November 17 ASEAN meeting. He will visit, or seek to visit, detainees in jail. If he is not allowed, he said, he will leave the country. Can the same be said of Gambari? We'll see.

            Inner City Press asked Pinheiro about two of his other human rights jobs, to push for a new UN office on violence and children -- the Latin America group GRULAC has agreed to it, Pinheiro confided -- and monitoring U.S. prisons for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. "Today's not about that," Pinheiro said. The world is a prison...

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Clck here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army.  Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540