At least 15 people died in Myanmar’s biggest city when the military crushed September’s pro-democracy demonstrations, five more than the government has acknowledged, according to a U.N. human rights investigator Friday.
The U.N.’s Paulo Sergio Pinheiro told a news conference that the figure, based on post-mortems and other official information, was not necessarily complete and he did not know how many other people may have been killed elsewhere in the country.
“This is just in Yangon,” Pinheiro said. “The government has not told me all the casualties in the country.” He added that he would continue seeking relevant information from other sources.
It was the first trip the junta allowed the Brazilian professor to make to the country in four years.
One of the main purposes of Pinheiro’s visit was to determine the number of people killed and detained in the September crackdown. Pinheiro said he would give as complete an accounting as possible to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on Dec. 11.
Myanmar’s military government has said 10 people were killed when troops opened fire on crowds of peaceful protesters on Sept. 26-27. Diplomats and dissidents, however, said the death toll was much higher.
Pinheiro said the authorities gave him post-mortem reports on 14 people whose bodies had been sent from Yangon General Hospital to be cremated. He said the 15th known fatality in the crackdown was Japanese journalist Kenji Nagai, who was shot dead by security forces.
Official: Junta frees more prisoners
In Myanmar, a spokesman for detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party said that the junta freed six political prisoners Thursday, the same day Pinheiro completed his five-day mission to the country.
Pinheiro said had requested a meeting with Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, but it had not been granted by the government.
On Thursday, Pinheiro was allowed to meet with several prominent political prisoners at Yangon’s infamous Insein Prison. He described the facility, which holds about 10,000 prisoners, as being “old and overcrowded.” He also said the prisoners there needed medical treatment.
The government told Pinheiro it had detained almost 3,000 people in connection with the crackdown, a figure previously announced. The military says it has released most of them, but many prominent political activists remain in custody.
“Of course, I am happy that large numbers of people have been released,” Pinheiro said in Yangon on Thursday. “But I have my concerns about the situation of those who have not been released.”