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Easing of Sanctions on Burmese Imports Does Little to Improve Human Rights There

For Immediate Release

As expected, the Obama administration today suspended the US ban on imports from Burma, just days before President Obama’s historic visit to that country. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is disappointed that the decision was not coupled to a requirement for proper safeguards to protect human rights.

“Lifting the import ban removes yet another tool that the US government could have used to continue pressuring the Burmese government to ensure that political, social, and economic reforms under way in that country extend to embrace all its people,” said Donna McKay, Executive Director of PHR. “While Burma’s situation has indeed improved, too many of its citizens continue to face egregious human rights abuses on a regular basis, and unregulated economic development is likely to make the situation even worse.”

PHR had urged the administration not to ease economic sanctions without first pressing the Burmese government to end widespread violence against ethnic minorities, increase humanitarian access to conflict zones, and establish accountability mechanisms for human rights violations.

Together with other human rights groups, PHR had also encouraged the administration to consult with civil society actors in Burma (pdf) about their views on US sanctions. The rights groups concerns are summarized in a joint letter sent yesterday to President Obama.

PHR is pleased that the ban on imported gems remains in place, and encourages President Obama to engage with Burma’s leaders during his visit on issues that continue to infringe on the liberty and well-being of many of the country’s ethnic minorities.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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Kevin Short

Deputy Director, Media & Communications1.917.679.0110

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