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Burmese MPs want to discuss sanctions, political prisoners with Clinton

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Elected officials in Burma say they hope to talk about sanctions and political prisoners with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her two-day visit to Burma in December.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks as Indonesian Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo, left, listens at a signing ceremony during the East Asia Summit in Indonesia on November 19, 2011. Photo: AFPClinton will also meet with Upper House Speaker Khin Aung Myint, parliamentary committees and 30 leaders including ethnic representatives and independent MPs in Naypyitaw, the capital, MPs said.
“It’ll depend on the circumstances. If we have a chance, we will ask about the sanctions,” Dr. Aye Maung, the chairman of the Upper House Government's Guarantees, Pledges and Undertakings Vetting Committee, told Mizzima.
Clinton’s visit will be the first visit of a U.S. secretary of state to the country in more than 50 years. She will also meet with members of the Upper House.
“When she comes, we will talk about the sanctions. I believe she will urge the Burmese government to release all political prisoners,” said Lower House MP Khin Maung Yi of the National Democratic Force.
Because of human rights violations in Burma, the U.S. and other Western governments impose economic sanctions against Burma; on the other hand, it is also now engaged with expanding contacts with Burma, and a series of high-level administration officials have visited Burma in the past two months. Burmese MPs have said that it is important that the government release all political prisoners in order for the U.S. to lift sanctions and expand economic and military ties.

On the other hand, the government’s long-standing position has been that there are no political prisoners. However, two amnesties this year have released a large number of political prisoners, and another amnesty is expected soon.

A former political activist, Khin Maung Yi said: “The next batch of the 88-generation student activists has not been released. In the Parliament, I’m the only 88-generation student activist. We want the students including Min Ko Naing and Ko Ko Gyi to be released. It’s oblivious that the government has a responsibility to release them to relax political tensions.”

MPs also said that during Clinton’s visit, they want her to encourage the International Monetary Fund and other groups to help Burma modernize its financial institutions and to urge the government to hold free and fair elections in 2015.

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