European Union (EU) Foreign Ministers agreed to renew economic sanctions on Burma for another year when they met to decide the EU’s Burma policy yesterday. They also agreed new measures aimed at promoting dialogue with the regime in Burma.
London, 14 April, (Asiantribune.com):
Key measures, including an asset freeze, an arms embargo and a ban on trade and investment in timber, gems and precious metals will continue to be imposed. A ban on high-level EU ministerial visits to Burma has been lifted temporarily, for one year, in order to facilitate opportunities for dialogue with the regime and the democracy movement, and although civilian members of the dictatorship have been added to the visa ban list, enforcement of the ban will be temporarily suspended.
EU Foreign Ministers welcome the UN Human Rights Council’s call for an end to impunity for human rights violations, and urge the regime to co-operate fully with the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma. However, the EU failed to provide explicit support for the UN Special Rapporteur’s recommendation for a Commission of Inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma, even though twelve European countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary and Ireland have already expressed support.
The human rights situation in Burma has continued to deteriorate since the elections last November, during which there were widespread reports of harassment, intimidation, violence and arrests in several of Burma’s ethnic states. The dictatorship has since broken the ceasefires in Karen and Shan States, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes. Reports this week from Shan State provide evidence of continuing violations, including the use of rape as a weapon of war, forced labour, torture and killings.
Benedict Rogers, East Asia Team Leader at Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), said, “We welcome the EU’s decision to maintain key economic sanctions, which sends a strong message that the regime’s behavior continues to be unacceptable and must not be rewarded. Until there is meaningful change, including the release of political prisoners, an end to the offensives against ethnic civilians and a meaningful dialogue process between the regime, the democracy movement led by Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic nationalities, sanctions must remain in place.
“We also welcome efforts to promote dialogue with the regime. We have always advocated a policy that combines pressure, engagement and humanitarian aid. We urge the EU to go further and express support for the UN Special Rapporteur’s proposal for a Commission of Inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity. If the EU is serious about welcoming the UN’s call for an end to impunity, it needs to support the UN Rapporteur’s own recommendation for how that can be achieved.
At UN meetings during the course of this year, the EU should actively promote the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry”, said Benedict Rogers.”
- Asian Tribune -