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Top UN official presses Myanmar’s military leader in rare visit


A senior UN official said she had urged Myanmar’s military ruler to release political prisoners and stop executions on Wednesday (Aug 17), in a rare, high-profile visit that comes amid growing violence in the country.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military overthrew an elected government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi early last year and launched a bloody crackdown on peaceful protests and armed resistance movements that followed.

Noeleen Heyzer arrived in the capital Naypyitaw late on Tuesday and was greeted by foreign ministry officials, state media reported, before holding a meeting with military chief Min Aung Hlaing on Wednesday.

“My visit is to convey the concern of the United Nations and propose concrete steps needed to reduce the conflict and suffering of the people. UN engagement does not in any way confer legitimacy,” Heyzer said in a statement released by the UN.

A spokesperson for Myanmar’s junta did not respond to a request for comment about the meeting. Myanmar’s state television MRTV reported on Wednesday that the two discussed the relationship between Myanmar and the UN, without elaborating.

Global condemnation has been heaped on Myanmar’s generals, most recently for executing four democracy activists they said had aided “terror acts”, referring to attacks by militias fighting military rule and seeking to avenge a deadly crackdown on protests.

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