Monday, 09 December 2019

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US senator calls for renewed Burma sanctions

Oklahoma City (Mizzima) – US Senator Mitch McConnell on Wednesday called on his fellow lawmakers to join him in support of sanctions against the Burmese regime for not making any “tangible progress” in democratic reforms.

The leader of the minority Republicans, Senator McConnell said the US should maintain existing sanctions as lifting them would give a wrong indication and legitimacy to the regime that has ruled the Southeast Asian nation by force for the past two decades. 

“In short, sanctions should remain in place because lifting sanctions would give the regime precisely what it wants; namely, legitimacy,” he said. 

Renewing sanctions against the military regime in Burma was as timely and important as ever because over the past year, the regime had made clear it had no intention of reforming, he added. Though the United States along with the international community had several times tried to engage with the regime, nothing had resulted by way of democratic reforms.

The US began imposing economic sanctions against the Burmese regime in 1997 and renewed them annually. But last year the Obama administration announced a new policy on Burma that included direct engagement with the regime while maintaining existing sanctions. 

“However well intentioned, the administration’s policy of engagement has unfortunately met with the same fate as earlier engagement efforts, notwithstanding the fig leaves the regime occasionally holds out as supposed proof of its willingness to reform,” Senator McConnell said.

Though the regime was unwilling to make any progress in reforms, it did crave legitimacy and had tried to sanitise its image internationally by promising reforms including the announcement of an election later this year, he added.

But the senator said, the electoral law announced this year lacked democratic principles. The law’s practical effect would be to sideline Burma’s most prominent democratic reformer, Aung San Suu Kyi, and force her leading opposition party, the National League for Democracy, into the shadows. 

“So renewing sanctions is important because it denies the junta the legitimacy it so craves,” the senator said, adding that the United States would (should) not be a party to recognising the junta’s attempt to overturn the democratic elections of 1990, the last true expression of the Burmese voters. 

“I strongly urge my colleagues to support sanctions renewal against the Burmese regime. And I ask unanimous consent that the text of the joint resolution be printed in the Record,” he said.


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