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UN committee denounces Myanmar human rights record

By Salma Abdelaziz, CNN
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • General Assembly subset committee slams "ongoing systematic violation of human rights"
  • U.N. chief emphasizes the importance of a peaceful democratic transition
  • Suu Kyi has spent 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest
  • Suu Kyi is a 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient

(CNN) -- A key United Nations committee on Thursday condemned Myanmar's human rights record while the secretary-general of the world body stressed the need for democratic reform.

In a call to freed pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the importance of a peaceful democratic transition and reconciliation process in Myanmar.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient in 1991, has spent 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest for her opposition to authoritarian rule in the nation formerly known as Burma. She was released last week.

"The secretary-general told Aung San Suu Kyi that he was encouraged by the spirit of reconciliation emanating from her statements and appeals for dialogue and compromise following her release," the U.N. said in a statement.

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A U.N. General Assembly subset committee approved a draft resolution denouncing "the ongoing systematic violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar."

The resolution also slammed the nation's recent elections and said they were not fair and inclusive.

Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., welcomed the resolution and said it honored the commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"The government of Burma continues to commit serious human rights violations, including arbitrary and prolonged detentions of its citizens, rape and sexual violence, discrimination and violence against ethnic minorities, and impose serious restrictions on freedom of speech, press association and assembly," Rice said in a statement.

Suu Kyi and Ban vowed to pressure the nation's military junta to release more than 2,100 political prisoners.

"They both stressed the need for the Myanmar authorities to release all remaining political prisoners so that all of the country's citizens are free to contribute to advancing the prospects of national reconciliation and democratic transition in Myanmar," the statement said.

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