Women’s League of Burma says no to lifting sanctions

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The European Union suspended its sanctions against Burma on Monday for a year, followed closely by Canada, in response to widely praised political reforms in the country.  The Women’s League of Burma is calling for sanctions not to be lifted. Lifting sanctions too soon could undermine incentives for deeper and more fundamental reforms in Burma. The rule of law must be established before foreign investments can benefit others than the military and those who dominate the lucrative sectors of Burma’s economy.

Activists are asking the US to wait more than a few months, perhaps years, before implementing major changes. Western countries need to evaluate the extent to which the new reforms reflect the government’s goodwill. The major test of political reform will be the 2015 national elections, when the military’s control of parliament will be challenged. Even after winning 43 of the 45 seats contested in recent special elections, the National League for Democracy (NLD) controls fewer than 7 per cent of the seats in parliament.

Suu Kyi’s party boycotted a 2010 election because it opposed the military-drafted constitution. Some think that persuading Suu Kyi’s party to rejoin politics was a political strategy for Western economic sanctions to be lifted. Aung San Suu Kyi announced that she will not enter parliament because she refuses to swear to “safeguard” a constitution that consolidates power for the military. The NLD is asking that the wording of the oath be changed from “safeguard” to “respect” the constitution.


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EU Suspends Burma sanctions, citing progress, CBC News, 23 April 2012

Canada Suspends Sanctions Against Burma, Helps the Country Build a Brighter Future, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, 24 April 2012