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UN rights commissioner urges Myanmar to release detained protesters

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official website] has urged Myanmar to immediately release demonstrators [statement] detained last week after participating in a peaceful protest against a recent rise in fuel prices. Arbour said Sunday that allowing citizens to peacefully express themselves will help foster both democracy and reconciliation in Myanmar. Arbour's remarks came days after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement [text] saying that the UN will be "following events in Myanmar closely, particularly in light of reports that student leaders and others have been arrested by the authorities."

The military-led government of Myanmar [JURIST news archive] has recently received widespread international criticism for alleged human rights violations. In June, the United States renewed pressure [JURIST report] on the nation to release democracy advocate and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi [advocacy website], as well as 52 activists arrested [JURIST report] in May for participating in vigils calling for her release. Also in June, the International Committee of the Red Cross denounced "violations of international humanitarian law" [press release] committed by the Myanmar government against citizens and detainees. In May, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled [opinion, PDF] that the extended detention of Suu Kyi violates the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights [texts]. The UN News Service has more.

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