The issue of sanctions on Burma has been spreading around the globe
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Does Burma's President Thein Sein government deserve the
reward of lifting sanctions for its recent positive reforms?
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) says it deserves
so, while others do not agree to lift sanctions in a hurry. In fact,
there are still a number of human rights abuses happening in the ethnic
areas and situation needs to see more reforms especially in the
political and economic equality.
Many intercontinental governments have used sanctions on Burma to
make the regime correct its unacceptable deeds in the areas of human
rights and jurisdiction.
The point is clear: the military leaders cannot persist to ignore the
hope of the people, and that they must look for a nonviolent solution
through political dialogue to resolve the political stalemate in Burma.
With such a focus, sanctions have strengthened both the legitimacy
and possibility of political dialogue in Burma, and they are effective
tools to advance the dialogue process between regime and the opposition.
All foreign investments so far have been helping to finance the
military regime, which spent more than 40% of national funds to build up
the armed forces. It is needless to repeat how Burma's military regime
has been mistreating its own populace. Piles of reports by UN Human
Rights Special Rapporteurs and credible international human rights
organizations have recorded the undeniable.
People believe that foreign investment under the military rule is
more beneficial to the regime and more harm to the people of Burma.
Therefore, those who are investing in military-run Burma are indirectly
responsible for the human rights violations committed by the Burma Army
and impediment to democratic reform in Burma.
It is remarkable that opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been
calling constantly for amending the previous junta made 2008
constitution, saying that its automatic allocation of 25 percent of the
parliamentary seats to unelected representatives of the military is not
The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB),
Burmese government in exile, has advised Washington not to hurriedly
relieve sanctions against Burma's current quasi-civilian government.
The NCGUB and various rights groups support U.S. engagement with Burmese
government, but they also would like to pressure for transform.
During ASEAN's two-day annual summit meeting in Cambodian, ASEAN
leaders have discussed to issue a proper call to western countries
lifting sanctions on Burma, while the EU is shifting direction towards
lifting sanctions principally.
However, Western democracies must think over and over again regarding
lifting of sanctions as a reward for the Thein Sein government.
If the International Governments observed seriously on Burma's
sanction issue, they must urge Thein Sein government to stop military
offensive against ethnic minority people. Currently, war against Kachin
people is at its height and burning villages, looting, rape and extra
judicial killing are still going on. There are more than 60,000 Kachin
war refugees on the Sino-Burma border without having any humanitarian
assistance from the ruling government.
Besides, it is also necessary to release unconditionally all
remaining political prisoners with fabricated terrorism charges.
According to former political prisoner Zarganar who recently visited the
US said during a public event at the National Endowment for Democracy,'
releases of political prisoners are conditional under threat of
"Section 401 of the Criminal Procedure Code'.
The military regime uses Section 401 as the legal mechanism for those
amnesties. Article (1) of Section 401 grants the President the power to
suspend a sentence, while article (3) gives power to cancel that
suspension and order re-arrest of a person at any time without a
warrant, requiring that he or she must serve the remainder of the
The Western Democracies need to focus on the current 2008
Constitution which gives too much power to military such as 25% regular
parliamentary seats without contesting in elections and it also grants
military chief to retake power on security reasons. It is required to
amend the military dominant provisions in keeping democratic norms.
Moreover, numerous acres of farmland were confiscated from the poor
common farmers by the military and their cronies all over the country.
All the lands confiscated by the military around the country without
fair compensation or land replacement must be returned to the poor
In addition, the previous junta withdrew professional licenses from
various citizens who support democratic causes. It is necessary to
restore licenses of lawyers, physicians, engineers and other
professionals whose work-permits were revoked by military due to their
support to democracy movement.
Furthermore, the current government needs to establish "Independent
Judicial System' to prevent discrimination, injustice and charade of
rule of law. Today, citizens have no rights to enjoy the fair
proceedings. Most court judgments were made by high-ranking government
officials instead of the respective judges.
Additionally, it is essential to change current top down nomination
process in government's bureaucratic system or political cronyism
pattern. It is also important to provide equal business opportunity to
each and every one and to stop current crony capitalism with connection
to military authorities.
And also one crucial thing to take action seriously is eradication of
drug trafficking in Burma. Poppy growing and opium production in Shan
State have increased over the past two years due to authorities as well
as armed groups are involving in the drug trade and growing economic
despondency caused by cronyism, corruption and unprofessional conduct of
The making of illicit drugs in Burma has considerable international,
regional and national end results. At the international level, the opium
and heroin produced in the country are consumed in Asia distributed
through China and Thailand as well as the rest of Asia, reaching
destinations as far away as Australia, North America and Europe. There
are 6 well-known drug lords in Burma's current parliament, who
represented the army-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party
(USDP), according to Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N.).
To be frank, ASEAN leaders are committing hasty generalization to
lift sanctions on Burma, although there are many more inappropriate
things against a free society. In reality, ASEAN did not help anything
en route for change in Burma. It even has no record of stating
disapproval of Burma Army's human rights abuses in the ethnic areas as a
morally first-class grouping.
Without addressing the above mentioned issues, lifting of the US and the EU Sanctions would be unwise.