[QODLink]
Central & South Asia

EU lifts Myanmar sanctions amid criticism

EU foreign ministers lift trade, economic and individual sanctions in response to political reforms.

Last Modified: 23 Apr 2013 04:45
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest as part of reforms [Reuters]

The European Union has lifted the last of the bloc's trade, economic and individual sanctions against Myanmar, in response to the South Asian country's political reforms.

Monday's decision came on the same day rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report that said Myanmar waged "a campaign of ethnic cleansing" against the Rohingya community, citing evidence of mass graves and forced displacement affecting tens of thousands.

"In response to the changes that have taken place and in the expectation that they will continue, the Council [of ministers] has decided to lift all sanctions with the exception of the embargo on arms," said a statement approved without a vote on Monday.

"The EU is willing to open a new chapter in its relations with Myanmar/Burma, building a lasting partnership," it added.

The EU began easing sanctions against Myanmar a year ago as the military, in power for decades, progressively ceded power to civilians and implemented largescale reforms of the economy.

Thein Sein, Myanmar's president, announced a slew of political reforms which resulted in release of political prisoners, most prominent among them Aung San Suu Kyi.

Ministers noted, however, that there were "still significant challenges to be addressed", in particular an end to hostilities in Kachin state and improving the plight of the Rohingya people.

Phil Robertson, the HRW Asia head, said lifting the sanctions was "premature and regrettable", warning that the move lessens leverage over Myanmar.

Myanmar views its population of roughly 800,000 Rohingya as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and denies them citizenship.

To help Myanmar's economy, the EU will look at the feasibility of a bilateral investment agreement, as well as more development assistance.

The EU is also studying the possibility of assisting reform of the police service, in partnership with its parliament, to help it deal with inter-communal violence, the statement said.

323

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
In run-up to US midterm elections, backers of immigration law changes disappointed by postponement of executive action.
As China reneges on pledged free elections, Tiananmen-style democracy movement spreads out across Hong Kong.
Acquitted of murdering his girlfriend, S African double amputee athlete still has a long and bumpy legal road ahead.
California school officials work with local community and Arab-American rights group to reach suitable compromise.
Families of disappeared persons have little recourse in finding their loved ones as gang violence remains rampant.
join our mailing list