Burma came under pressure in the UN human rights council on Thursday to speed up genuine democratic reform, as Western nations blasted "alarming" abuse and some Asian neighbours sought more change.
"The human rights situation in Burma is alarming," Sweden said in a statement to the 47-nation assembly as the council held its first regular review of Burma's human rights record.
Western countries including Britain, France and the United States called on the military regime to free immediately more than 2,000 political prisoners, end impunity for abuse, and halt forced labour, arbitrary arrests and torture of critics.
US ambassador Eileen Donahoe warned of "ongoing, systematic violations of human rights" and expressed concern about reports of "hundreds of cases of torture of political prisoners."
"We remain deeply concerned about the very poor state of human rights," she added, warning that the elections last November were "neither free nor fair," and "cannot be considered credible."
Asian countries broadly welcomed steps towards democracy with the release of jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and steered clear of overt criticism of the administration.
But many neighbouring countries and key members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean), including India, Indonesia and Thailand signalled that they also wanted more progress on democratisation and avoided acknowledging the elections.
"Burma stands at an important crossroads in its transition to democracy," India said in a statement.
It underlined the need for "more inclusive, broad-based and expeditious" reforms and greater efforts "to address the major human rights concerns.
Thailand sought improvements in the country's laws to "promote greater accountability" as well as more efforts to engage ethnic groups and deal with human rights.
"We urge the authorities in Burma to work to consolidate the gains achieved and ensure further positive developments," said Thai envoy Kanita Sapphaisal.
However, neighbouring China voiced support for Burma and warned that "pressure and sanctions of a political nature will not produce solutions."
Burma told the council it had "reached the final stages of its transition to democracy" with the convening of its new parliament next week.
The elections were "free from vote rigging, violence and any kind of intimidation," ambassador Wunna Maung Lwin added.
Advocacy group Human Rights Watch described the half-day debate as an opportunity to "put one of the most brutal and intransigent authoritarian systems in the world under the spotlight."
"Burma's human rights record remains deplorable, and forming a new parliament after sham elections in 2010 shouldn?t fool anyone," said HRW's deputy Asia director Elaine Pearson in a statement.
source by : Bangkok Post