News / Asia

Burmese Band Feels Pinch of Foreign Sanctions

Darko C of the Burmese band Side Effect records vocal tracks.
Darko C of the Burmese band Side Effect records vocal tracks.
Danielle Bernstein

Although many nations have welcomed Burma's ongoing political reforms, U.S. economic sanctions against the country remain in place. The measures are aimed at curbing the government's economic strength, but they can also directly affect normal citizens. A band of musicians in Rangoon found out it is also affected by the sanctions.

Burma's loosened political and social controls have been a boon to artists such as punk rock band Side Effect, which this year turned to the Internet to raise money for their debut album.

Last week, they learned that their online fundraising campaign with the U.S. website indiegogo.com was frozen by the U.S. Office for Foreign Asset Control. The fund's $2,840, which they hoped would also help them buy a drum kit, has been refunded to donors.

Side Effect front man Darko C. feels the band has been unjustly targeted.

"No it's not fair, we're not working for the government. We're just a group of musicians. We're kind of lost at the moment," he said. "The sanctions ruined our dream. It doesn't make any sense, so maybe they should do some reconsideration."

The United States and other Western countries are warming to the idea of possibly lifting sanctions.

Foreign powers have been encouraged by Burma's release of political prisoners and the government's decision to allow opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to run for a seat in parliament.

Sean Turnell, an economics professor at Australia's Macquarie University and editor of Burma Economics Watch, says Burma's reforms have caused a huge shift in opinion on sanctions.

"Now there's a recognition that if, and this is a critical if, the reforms keep being rolled out and we do see significant milestones reached, then I think the perception really is growing that sanctions will begin to be lifted," he said.

Even if there is broad political support in Washington for lifting sanctions, political analysts say it could take two years for the U.S. Congress to complete the process for fully rescinding the measures. In the meantime, Turnell says the experiences of Side Effect are not an isolated case.

"Very often it causes collateral damage, groups that you wouldn't really be wanting to target are in a sense falling under the board of sanctions. The people who are finding it most problematic in this area are actually people who share names with people who were members Burma's military regime," said Turnell.

U.S. senators visiting Burma this week said the United States is considering lifting sanctions if Burma continues its reforms and if April elections are free and fair.





You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid