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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid