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UN rights experts criticise attack on Myanmar activists

world Updated: Apr 26, 2007 15:44 IST

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Two independent United Nations human rights experts have sharply criticised last week's attack on rights defenders in Myanmar and asked authorities to conduct a thorough investigation.

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

In a statement, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar and Hina Jilani, the Secretary-General's Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders, voiced "deep concern over the brutal attack".

The reports "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," they said.

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

In yesterday's statement Pinheiro and 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".