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Do not lift economic sanctions: NLD

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The National League for Democracy (NLD) party on Tuesday reaffirmed its stance that economic sanctions on Burma should be lifted only after the new government has demonstrated progress and change toward real democracy and human rights.

Party elder Win Tin, foreground, participates in a meeting at the headquarters of the National League for Democracy in Rangoon prior to the national election. He helped shape the NLD policy in support of sanctions announced this week.The economic hardships the country faces are not due to the economic sanctions imposed by Western countries–they result from of the misguided and inept policies of the ruling government and widespread corruption, according to a statement issued by the NLD.

‘Western countries should consider lifting their sanctions only after progress has been seen in these areas. They have their own laws in this regard. We continue to support the sanctions’, NLD leader Win Tin told Mizzima.

Despite growing criticisms inside and outside Burma that the sanctions are not effective, the statement said they are a serious challenge to the military-run government that oppresses the people and witholds human rights and democratic principles.

The current sanctions include the freezing of assets owned by targeted military officials and their business cronies, visa bans, trade sanctions and investment sanctions.

The statement noted that a recent study by the International Monetary Fund has cited the regime’s poor economic policies and performances, mismanagement and an unattractive investment climate as the main causes of the ills of Burma’s economy.

The IMF does not see sanctions as a significant factor in regard to the economic problems of the country, the statement said.

The IMF reports that Burma has consistently grown in revenues during the past decade, largely from energy sales to foreign countries. Yet despite increasing financial strength, education and health care have been neglected and living standards have not risen.

According to a 2010 Human Resources Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme, Burma has fallen behind Laos and Cambodia and now ranks lowest among the nations of South East Asia.

The Burmese garment industry was hardest hit by sanctions, according to the NLD. Earnings from garment exports fell by US$ 400 million in 2003 as a result of US sanctions. But of that loss, only about 2.5 percent was related to labour wages. The main burden was borne by big businesses and by the privileged classes that were exploiting the country and the labour force, the statement said.

Currently, income from garment exports ranks third in the export earnings line-up, according to the statement.

The rural population engaged in agriculture, which comprises 63 percent of the total population of the country, has not been affected by economic sanctions, it said. Rather, people have suffered from a lack of freedom in production and marketing, from forced sales of agriculture land and from policies and practices that have resulted in the gross suppression of the price of farming products.

The NLD said criticism of sanctions, particularly economic sanctions, sometimes serve to divert attention from the main problems plaguing the country.

‘Blatant cronyism is the trademark of the Burmese economy and constitutes the main obstacle to the emergence of small and medium enterprises’, said the statement. ‘Targeted sanctions serve as a warning that acts contrary to basic norms of justice and human rights cannot be committed with impunity even by authoritarian governments’.

The NLD called for discussions with the United States, the European Union, Canada and Australia with a view to reaching agreement on when, how and under what circumstances sanctions might be modified in the interests of democracy, human rights and a healthy economic environment.

Sanctions have been imposed on Burma by the United States, member countries of the European Union, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

In related news, the Peace and Diversity party issued a statement on Tuesday which said sanctions should be lifted because they offer little benefit to the people.

On January 16, a group of ethnic political parties including the Shan, Rakhine, Mon, Chin and Phalon-Sawa called for the lifting of  international sanctions, saying they harmed economic growth in ethnic regions.

The US imposed an arms embargo on Burma in 1993, citing the  junta’s human right violations and it imposed new investment sanction in 1997. The US imposed targeted sanctions in 2003 and renewed its economic sanctions in May 2010.

The European Union (EU) banned the transfer or sale of military hardware in 1996 and later imposed the freezing of assets in their countries owned by junta leaders, their family members and their cronies, in addition to visa bans for targeted individuals.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 10 February 2011 14:35 )  

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