Wednesday, November 21, 2007

U.N. official sees Burma hope if pressure kept up

By Robert Evans

GENEVA (Reuters) - There is a good chance of democratic change in Myanmar if the outside world keeps up pressure on its military rulers, a United Nations human rights investigator said on Wednesday.

The international protest at the military's harsh crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations "definitely achieved something," Paulo Sergio Pinheiro told reporters.

But Pinheiro, the U.N. Human Rights Council's special investigator for Myanmar, warned of the dangers of waning international pressure.

"A good opportunity will be lost for a real transition", he told a telephone news conference after his first visit to the former Burma in four years.

Pinheiro was encouraged by the large number of young people who had turned out peacefully in the September protests.

"Now the only way is for the international community to talk less and display more coordinated action," he said. "I don't see any other possibility for the time being."

The position of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and that of China, are key, he said.

It is important that countries whose foreign policies are not always aligned should try to keep their positions close, he said from Brown University in Rhode Island where he teaches.

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