UN rapporteur ridicules Burma 'democracy'

Geneva (dpa) - The military junta in Burma has failed to make any real concessions to democracy, the UN special rapporteur said Friday, suggesting efforts were more make-believe than real.

Paulo Pinheiro told reporters in Geneva: "If you believe in gnomes, in trolls and in elves then you can believe in this process of democracy."

The Burmese authorities have moved to silence international criticism following September's brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators and announced a series of measures they claim will transform the country to a democracy.

"They don't give any concessions. For Latin Americans, eastern and southern Europeans and Asian democracies we can not give a certificate of democratic transition because this is not happening," said Pinheiro.

He was speaking after presenting his final report on Burma to the Human Rights Council the previous day. He is due to hand the brief to a successor.

He said the Burmese junta had paid no heed to the UN Security Council or resolutions by the Human Rights Council. He said he saw no evidence that anyone responsible for September's killings or excessive use of force had been brought to book.

"I am afraid 'accountability' does not translate in the Myanmar language," he said, using the junta's official name for Burma.

The referendum, scheduled for an undisclosed date in May, is at the forefront of the Junta's democratisation efforts but has already provoked protest at home.

Pinheiro said a referendum could not be democratic if it excluded political parties and opposition figures.

He praised China for the "positive role" it had played in the region in trying to find a solution.

Pinheiro had been accused of a lack of objectivity and impartiality by Burma after presenting his report to the Council on Thursday.

Burma said the visit by the UN Secretary-General's special adviser and meeting with the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi pointed to the regime's commitment to democratic reform.

Bangkok Post