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Measured Response to Easing of Sanctions Against Burma is Urged

For Immediate Release

In response to the United States Administration’s announcement this week that it would ease certain sanctions against the Government of Burma following recent positive developments in that country, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) urged the international community to maintain a measured response.

Burmese leaders have eased media controls and have allowed for greater political freedom. In by-elections on Sunday through which several dozen seats in Parliament were filled, the National League for Democracy (NLD) swept the majority of the seats and Aung San Suu Kyi, the NLD’s leader, was elected.

PHR appreciates the Administration’s overall restraint in easing sanctions. The Administration announced it would allow some US investments in Burma, upgrade the US diplomatic representation to the level of ambassador, support greater US non-governmental organization activity in the country, and lift visa bans for certain government officials.

“We are pleased to see that the Administration is recognizing the changes in Burma while acknowledging that more systematic reform is necessary,” said Bill Davis, PHR’s Burma Project Director.  “The NLD is still a tiny minority in a government controlled by the military and its allies. We are still seeing the military commit human rights violations in rural areas, most notably in the ongoing conflict in Kachin State, northern Burma.”

PHR calls on the Administration to continue its measured approach to easing sanctions by continuing to implement most prohibitions to press for deeper reform, an end to attacks on civilians, and a granting of unimpeded access to humanitarian aid groups.

Congress must also play its vital part in bringing about permanent and significant improvements in Burma by reauthorizing the sanctions against Burma.

”The Administration’s actions have shown that it  has the flexibility under the current  sanctions regime to respond to future improvements by the Government of Burma with the easing of sanctions,” said Hans Hogrefe, Chief Policy Officer at PHR. “However, the only way this flexibility will be successful is if the US demonstrates the seriousness of its demand for greater progress in the country.”

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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