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

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear 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 Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
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 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 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.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid