Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Though European Union’s extension of its existing economic sanctions against Burma for one more year was welcomed by the National League for Democracy (NLD), Win Tin, a senior leader was unhappy with its decision to continue parleys with the junta.
“When we wanted them to apply more pressure on the junta, they still wanted to talk with the regime. We are unhappy with this,” Win Tin a Central Executive Committee member of NLD said.
Given that the appalling human rights situation has not shown any improvement, European Union foreign ministers decided to extend sanctions against military-ruled Burma for one more year at a meeting in Luxemberg on April 26. At the same time the meeting decided to send a diplomatic mission to Burma for parleys with the junta.
Western countries should persuade veto power holders like China and Russia to take practical actions on Burma through the United Nations Security Council, such as weapons sanctions and strong diplomatic pressure, Win Tin said.
EU had imposed sanctions against Burma since 1996. These include, ban on sale of weapons to Burma, halt to visas for regime officials, their families and their cronies so that they are unable to visit EU countries, stopping aid, except humanitarian aid, sealing bank accounts of Burmese military officials, and restricted diplomatic relations with Burma.
The judges, who initiated legal action against Aung San Suu Kyi were added to the sanction list last year. EU has also called for the unconditional release of political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi.
However, the chairman of the Union of Myanmar National Political Force, Aye Lwin, who has opposed sanctions by western countries, since 2006, said it is impractical.
“The sanction is a negative approach, where it ignores the political, economical and social opportunities of Burmese people while we proceed towards democracy”, he told Mizzima. He pointed out that the EU had said the junta’s electoral laws cannot ensure free and fair election, because the NLD and its allies among ethnic parties did not like the electoral laws.
Sanctions affect not only the junta but also the people, so they should revoke the sanction to sympathize with the Burmese people, Aye Lwin added.
“Sanctions are an obstacle to investment and it is negative in nature. If the head of a family has been pushed aside, negative effects will impact his family members,” he said.
Though Win Tin accepts the fact that sanctions can affect the ordinary people, it hurts the junta more, he felt. “Watering a burning house is not enough, sometimes we need to tear and break bamboo walls and roofs,” he said.
London based Burma Campaign (UK), the organization fighting for democracy in Burma, also welcomed the EU’s decision. They said if EU revokes the sanction, the junta will have the opportunity to abuse human rights more freely.
The EU statement welcomed and supported the report of Qunitana, the United Nations human rights envoy to Burma. They urged cooperation with the UN envoy. In Quintana’s report, he urged the UN to consider establishing a Commission of Inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Burmese military junta.