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

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake 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.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid