Sunday, 17 November 2019

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Aung San Suu Kyi’s offer to Than Shwe on sanctions

New Delhi (Mizzima) - Burma’s detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said she needs to talk to representatives of the United States, the European Union and Australia as a first step to persuade them to lift economic sanctions on the Southeast Asian nation.

In a letter to Snr Gen Than Shwe, on September 25, the detained Nobel Peace Laureate said, she is willing to work with the junta for the lifting of sanctions on Burma and asked to be allowed to hold talks with representatives of the countries that have imposed the sanctions.

Aung San Suu Kyi, general secretary of the National League for Democracy, also said, in order to work for the removal of sanctions, the extent and consequences of the sanctions must be understood. It will also require understanding of the stand of the countries that imposed the sanctions.

In order to understand the stance of the countries, which had imposed sanctions, the Burmese democracy leader said she needs to be allowed to talk to the Charge d’Affairs of United States, Ambassadors of the European Union and Australia to discuss lifting of sanctions.

The letter, according to her party’s spokesperson Nyan Win, was sent to Nay Pyi Taw on Saturday, after consultations with her on the text and contents.

“I drafted the letter and got it approved from Daw Suu and sent it to Naypyitaw,” Nyan Win said.

Aung San Suu Kyi, in the letter also asked the junta to allow her to talk to her party in order to discuss the sanctions.

The democracy icon’s proposal comes at a time when the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a preview of the US policy towards Burma, which is under review and will soon be completed.

Clinton, in her preview of the Burma policy on the sidelines of the 64th UN General Assembly, said the US would directly engage with the Burmese military regime while maintaining economic sanctions.

Clinton said the US has not opted for engagement for sanctions, but is willing to increase engagement with Naypyitaw as sanctions alone in the past have failed to bring the desired behavioural change in the military leaders of Burma.

Nyan Win said Aung San Suu Kyi has welcomed Clinton’s preview of US’s Burma policy, but said the US should engage both the military regime and opposition groups including her party.

Since the Obama regime came to power, there has been much talk about US’s policy on Burma. Clinton in February said US sanctions has failed but also said engagement by neighbouring countries also failed to bring change in Burma.

Pro-engagement groups, including Senator James Webbs, who visited Burma in August, argue that sanctions hurt the ordinary Burmese people and only push the generals further into isolation and reduce the US’s influence on them.

But pro-sanction groups see the mass poverty of the Burmese people as the mismanagement of the economy by the regime and sanctions has not added but only punished the generals. It sends them messages that the international community does not tolerate their actions.

Nyo Ohn Myint, in-charge of Foreign Affairs Committee of the NLD in exile said, even if the US does not lift sanctions, if they begin engaging with the regime, it could still send a wrong message to it. The regime might interpret that it is being legally accepted.

“Once the US begins engaging with the regime, it would be a kind of acceptance of their rule,” Nyo Ohn Myitn told Mizzima in a recent interview.


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