Burma Independence Advocates Advocacy Call to the European Union to Renew and Expand the Burma Sanctions Regime

11 April 2011 The Expansion of the EU sanctions on Burma
As the European Union reviews its Common Position on Burma very soon, we call on the European Union to renew the existing measures against the regime and expand the restrictive measures against the additional members of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) regime and its supporters. Not only the measures against the former members of the military junta, the State Peace and Development Council need to be renewed, the further restrictive measures against the members of the USDP regime both at the central government and local governments need to be established. The European Union needs to expand its punitive measures against the regime according to its new expansions. The USDP regime has extended its administrative functions across the country and it is time for the European Union to widen the scope of its measures against the regime. It would be very unwise and inconsiderate to lessen the pressures on the regime by looking at the ostensible changes in the political system. The recent developments in the country pointed out that the ruling junta simply renewed and reinforced its rule through disguised transition to civilian rule with a handful of impotent ethnic and non-military representatives. The so-called new presidential republic is in fact a change of clothes and a name of the junta without changing the essence and core values of the military dictatorship. The military junta that came to power following the popular uprising in 1988 has simply reborn in different names in the past 22 years at different stages from the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) to the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). It is clearly not a ‘change’ nor a political development when the military officials simply changed their clothes, relinquished the military positions to become an MP at the parliament and continue ruling the country in disguise. The ethnic representatives and the representatives from political parties who have no relationship with the junta at the parliament are merely the window dressing for the military dictatorship. The outright rejections of the motions proposed by the ethnic representatives and other political parties at the parliament pointed out the unwillingness of the regime to establish a genuine civilian and democratic rule.

Until and unless the USDP regime grants fundamental rights and freedoms in the country by releasing all political prisoners – currently more than 2000 political prisoners are held across the country – establishing the rule of law, allowing the freedom of assembly, association and expression, and other civil liberties, the European Union needs to maintain its pressure on the regime. The USDP regime must be judged by its action and so-called civilian government must be approved only and when the people are free to enjoy their basic rights and entitlements under the new system of governance. The USDP regime must start engaging with the democratic opposition and re-establish the dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic nationalities including the armed opposition forces at the border areas for the internal peace and reconciliation process. This is not the time to ease the pressure on the regime. The genuine reconciliation process in the country needs to be implemented and the essential and massive social, political and economic reforms must be materialised. It is the moral obligation of the European Union to make sure that its action on Burma agrees to the genuine developments on the ground rather than the desultory establishment of civilian rule.

Burma Independence Advocates London. The Burma Independence Advocates is a London-based human rights advocacy and think tank organisation.

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