European Union Maintains Sanctions on Burma

14 Apr 2011

Burma Action Ireland welcomes the decision by the European Union (EU) on 12 April 2011 to renew economic sanctions on Burma for another year. The EU also agreed new measures to promote high-level dialogue with the regime and the democracy movement.

Despite pressure exerted by some EU members to relax sanctions in response to the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and the sham elections held by the military regime in November last year, the EU made no significant changes to their position on Burma.

The EU’s policy on Burma, which is reviewed annually in April, includes an arms embargo, the suspension of trade privileges as well as a ban on trade and investment in timber, gems and precious metals. Senior military regime officials, their families, business partners and some judges are subject to a visa ban and a freeze on their assets.

In its Council Conclusions, the EU reiterates its call for the release of political prisoners and for inclusive dialogue with all stakeholders including Aung San Suu Kyi, the National League for Democracy and leaders of ethnic nationalities. To facilitate opportunities for dialogue, the ban on EU ministers and heads of state visiting Burma has been temporarily lifted. In addition, implementation of the visa ban on civilian members of the new Burmese Government, including the Foreign Minister, has been temporarily suspended.

Eileen Seymour of Burma Action Ireland said “We welcome the EU’s decision to renew sanctions on Burma, it is a clear message to the regime that there must be meaningful change and a substantial improvement in basic freedoms and human rights before there is any significant relaxation in EU policy on Burma. We also welcome efforts to promote genuine dialogue between the regime, the democracy movement and the ethnic leaders but the message from EU representatives to the regime must be clear and consistent.”

Burma Action Ireland also welcomes the EU’s support of the UN Human Rights Council’s Resolution calling for an end to impunity for human rights violations and for the Burmese regime to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma. However, Burma Action Ireland are disappointed that the EU did not support the UN Special Rapporteur’s recommendation for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity, even though 12 EU countries, including Ireland, have already expressed their support.

Burma Action Ireland

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