YANGON (AFP) - police Tuesday arrested a labour activist as a UN rights envoy held talks with members of the junta, which drew international criticism for its deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protests.
Making his first visit to the country in four years, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro is investigating the death toll from the bloody suppression -- put at 10 by the regime but believed to be far higher by diplomats and rights groups -- and other rights abuses.
Thesaid Pinheiro was expected to meet with some of the regime's political prisoners, including Nobel Peace Prize winner who has been held under house arrest for most of the last 18 years.
Pinheiro met with junta officials Tuesday as police arrested prominent labour rights activist Su Su Nway while she was putting up anti-government leaflets, a source with knowledge of the matter told AFP.
"She was arrested this afternoon while she was trying to put some anti-government pamphlets in place," the source, who did not wish to be identified, told AFP.
Su Su Nway, 35, had been in hiding since leading a protest inin late August over soaring fuel prices.
Dozens of protesters were detained after that August march, one of a series of anti-junta rallies that began over the price hike and later snowballed into the biggest anti-government demonstrations since 1988.
Pinheiro arrived on Sunday, allowed back in for the first time since 2003 by the junta, which is under pressure to make steps towards democracy after its handling of the demonstrations.
He met Tuesday with the religious affairs and national planning and economic development ministers in the isolated capital Naypyidaw, aofficial said. No details were immediately available.
Pinheiro is expected Wednesday to meet the foreign and information ministers and Labour Minister Aung Kyi, who was appointed to liaise with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the official said. He is also due to brief foreign diplomats.
Human rights groups have called on Pinheiro to pressure the junta to release all political prisoners.
Amnesty International has estimated that 700 people arrested over the recent protests were still in detention, although the government said only 91 of the 3,000 originally rounded up were being held.
On Monday, Pinheiro visited the notorious Insein prison as well as two monasteries which were at the centre of the democracy protests, as part of his probe into rights abuses connected to the crackdown.
Pinheiro, the UN's special rapporteur on human rights, "is expecting to interview detainees before the end of his mission and receive further details on their records," thesaid in a statement.
The UN expert is also seeking to investigate claims of abuses against ethnic minority groups before leaving the country on Thursday.
Pinheiro's visit comes just days after a mission by UN special envoy. The United Nations afterwards said some progress had been made towards establishing a dialogue between the junta and Aung San Suu Kyi.
UN Secretary Generalon Monday urged both sides to redouble their efforts to achieve national reconciliation.
Aung Naing Oo, a Myanmar analyst based insaid the international pressure and scrutiny, as well as protests and sanctions, "have played a major role in forcing the military to express that they will come to the table."
Other analysts say the generals have allowed the UN visits to deflect criticism ahead of the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which opens inon Sunday.