More than 1, 000 political prisoners hold in Myanma

Myanmar's military junta is holding more than 1,100 political prisoners and allegedly uses torture on a routine basis and continues to harass pro-democracy activists, a U.N. human rights investigator said in a report Wednesday.

Paulo Sergio Pinheiro said serious human rights violations also continue to be perpetrated against Myanmar's ethnic minorities, citing widespread reports of forced labor, rape and other sexual violence, extortion and expropriation by government forces.

In the report to the U.N. General Assembly, he expressed serious concern about the continued house arrest of pro-democracy activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, saying her virtual solitary confinement and lack of access to colleagues from her National League for Democracy political party "run counter to the spirit of national reconciliation."

Fearing her popularity, the military has detained Suu Kyi repeatedly, most recently in 2003.

Despite the welcome release of 249 political prisoners on July 6, Pinheiro said "there reportedly remain over 1,100 political prisoners in Myanmar, including monks, lawyers, teachers, journalists, farmers, politicians, student leaders, writers and poets”, reports the AP. I.L.

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