[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
Australia eases sanctions on Myanmar
President among 260 civilian officials no longer subject to restrictions, but measures still in place against army.
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2012 05:24
Australia removed Thein Sein from the sanctions list, but military officers remained [Reuters]

Australia's government has announced an easing of sanctions and moves to normalise trade ties with Myanmar following recent reforms by the country's civilian government.

But Bob Carr, Australia's foreign minister, said on Monday that sanctions would remain in place against about 130 military officials to keep up pressure for further reforms.

Carr said Myanmar President Thein Sein was among 260 civilian officials who would no longer be subject to financial restrictions and travel bans.

"That removes many of the civilians from the list, and that includes President Thein Sein and government ministers," he said.

"But senior serving military officers and people of human rights interest will stay subject to those Australian sanctions."

Speaking from London, where he was due to meet William Hague, his British counterpart, later on Monday, Carr said easing sanctions was recognition of "far-reaching political, economic and social reforms" being implemented in Myanmar after years of international isolation.

'Greater engagement'

"It is incumbent upon us now to support Burma in practical ways and seek greater engagement that will encourage these reforms to take root and sustain the conditions for further change to improve the lives of the Burmese people," said Carr, referring to the country by its former name.

The move follows last week's historic visit to Myanmar by David Cameron, the British prime minister, where he met opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The two leaders backed an easing of sanctions against the Southeast Asian nation.

Suu Kyi and the UK have long been the biggest advocates of sanctions, imposed over the past 23 years for human rights abuses by Myanmar's military rulers. Critics argue they have kept the Southeast Asian country's 60 million people in poverty.

The European Union will review its sanctions on Myanmar on April 23, with an expected easing of restrictions set to allow  a flood of investment into a country rich with natural resources.

Myanmar's military rulers ceded power to a quasi-civilian government, led by former general Sein, following a November 2010 election marred by opposition complaints of rigging, and won by a party set up by the military.

But since then Sein's government has released hundreds of political prisoners and introduced a wave off reforms including loosening media controls, allowing trade unions and protests, talks with ethnic minority rebels and sweeping economic changes.

Parliamentary by-elections earlier this month saw Nobel peace laureate Suu Kyi, who spent years as a prisoner under military rule, elected to parliament as her National League for Democracy (NLD) took 43 out of 45 seats.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
Iran's government has shifted its take on 'brain drain' but is the change enough to reverse the flow?
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
join our mailing list