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Christian human rights group welcomes EU sanctions on Burma

The European Union has agreed to impose targeted sanctions against Burma’s military regime following the recent crackdown on protesters in the Asian nation.

The measures include a ban on investment in and imports of Burmese timber, metals and gems.

The move comes after the United Nations Security Council issued a statement “deploring the use of violence” in the crackdown and calling for “genuine dialogue” between the junta and imprisoned opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a statement which has been reportedly rejected by the military junta with the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper saying the nation would continue on its own “roadmap” for reform.

While some reports suggest that European sanctions will have little impact on Burma thanks to as much as 90 per cent of the country’s trade being with its Asian neighbours, British-based human rights organisation Christian Solidarity Worldwide have welcomed the EU’s move with chief executive Mervyn Thomas saying the group had been campaigning for “tough, targeted sanctions” for years. 

“Finally, the EU has adopted new sanctions which will have an impact on the regime,” he says. “The EU has sent a strong message to the regime that if it does not enter into meaningful dialogue with the democracy movement and the ethnic nationalities, further tough targeted sanctions will be introduced.”

While the Burmese Government has said only 10 people died in the recent crackdown, international observers believe the death toll to be much higher. Hundreds of people remain in detention.

UN envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, visited Burma in the wake of the crackdown and is currently travelling through Asian nations to push them to pressure the regime for change. He said that reports more dissidents were arrested last weekend were “extremely disturbing”.

While Malaysia, meanwhile, has reportedly ruled out any threat of sanctions or suspension from the Association of South East Nations (ASEAN), Japan has announced it will halt almost $US5 million in aid after a Japanese journalist was killed during the crackdown.


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