News / Asia

EU Lifts Burma Sanctions Despite Human Rights Concerns

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague at  EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg April 22, 2013Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague at EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg April 22, 2013
x
Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague at  EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg April 22, 2013
Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague at EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg April 22, 2013
Reuters
The European Union agreed on Monday to lift all sanctions on Myanmar, except for an arms embargo, despite a Human Rights Watch report which accused authorities of complicity in the mass killing of Muslims in the west of the country last year.
       
Lifting the sanctions gives more certainty to European firms contemplating investments in one of the least developed markets in Asia. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has significant natural resources and borders economic giants China and India.
       
The EU's move could put pressure on the United States, which suspended sanctions in May last year and allowed U.S. companies to invest through a general licence. Some American executives have urged Washington to go further and lift sanctions entirely.
       
The EU lifted its sanctions a year after suspending them in response to a dramatic series of reforms put in place since Myanmar's military stepped aside and a quasi-civilian government was installed in 2011.
       
"In response to the changes that have taken place and in the expectation that they will continue, the council (EU governments) has decided to lift all sanctions with the exception of the embargo on arms,'' EU foreign ministers said in a statement after a meeting in Luxembourg.
       
But Human Rights Watch accused authorities in Myanmar's western Rakhine State of crimes against humanity in the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims last year, charges the government dismissed as one-sided and "unacceptable''.
       
Myanmar opposition leader and Nobel peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi said however the clashes should not be tied to the economic embargo.
       
"I do not think that we should link the economic sanctions to the violence, which has a lot to do with rule of law and with other social political problems.''
       
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the progress made was sufficient to justify lifting the sanctions despite the violence.
       
"It is absolutely vital to continue work ... to try to stop this ethnic violence and the European Union countries have a role to play in that, including in the training of police forces, where we can help, (and) in promoting dialogue between faiths,'' Hague told reporters at the EU meeting.
       
"The problems of Burma are not over but the progress that has been made has been substantial enough, is serious enough, and the government there are sufficiently committed to that, for us to take this decision,'' Hague said.
       
Sectarian Violence

The EU had frozen the assets of nearly 1,000 companies and institutions in Myanmar and banned almost 500 people from entering the EU. It also prohibited military-related technical help and banned investment in the mining, timber and precious metals sectors.
       
Under President Thein Sein's reforms, Suu Kyi, who spent 15 years under house arrest, has been allowed back into politics.
       
A succession of foreign leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, have travelled to Myanmar, and the country is attracting a surge of interest from overseas businesses keen to enter one of Asia's last untapped markets.
       
But ethnic violence continues to be a problem.       

Rakhine State was swept by sectarian violence last year that killed at least 110 people and left 120,000 homeless.
       
Sectarian violence erupted in Myanmar again last month and 43 people were killed. Thousands, mostly Muslims, were driven from their homes and businesses as bloodshed spread across the central region of the Buddhist-majority country.
       
New York-based Human Rights Watch said security forces were complicit in disarming Rohingya Muslims of makeshift weapons and standing by, or even joining in, as Rakhine Buddhist mobs killed men, women and children in June and October 2012.
       
Ye Htut, a presidential spokesman and Myanmar's deputy Minister of Information, dismissed the report for only taking news from "one side'' in a statement on his Facebook page.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid