|You are in: Talking Point|
Friday, 15 March, 2002, 13:40 GMT
Burma: Should sanctions be lifted?
The Burmese military government has recently released almost 100 women prisoners apparently in response to intervention from the UN human rights envoy to Burma, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro.
There's even growing speculation that opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi herself may be freed from her virtual house arrest within the next few months.
However, a delegation from the International Labour Organisation which visited Burma said it was disappointed with the lack of co-operation from the Burmese authorities.
Rangoon journalist Ma Thanegi argues sanctions are ineffective and end up hurting ordinary people.
Zaw Oo, a policy advisor to the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, the Burmese exile government, says the sanctions are an effective tool in advancing the dialogue process.
Is now the right time to lift the sanctions against Burma? Or are they still valid? Tell us what you think.
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Even with sanctions imposed, the military regime is still making a good life from the money that western investors are throwing into the country because of cheap labour. Now, western governments are talking loudly about human rights etc, but on the other hand, they continue to allow their multinational companies to invest in Burma. Where is the principal?
Although I applaud the SPDC for its release of female prisoners, this is nothing new in the history of Burma's brutal junta and nothing short of a 'stunt' to appease the UN. Aung San Suu Kyi has asked the international community on numerous occasions for our support and for the enforcement of sanctions against this manipulative and calculating regime. It is our duty to help the transition to democracy in Burma and sanctions are one of many tools by which the junta can be brought to the negotiating table.
Lift the sanctions, since it is only hurting the ordinary Burmese. Continue the dialogue (assisted by UN) between the opposition and the military rulers to reach the reasonable ground that they both can live with. Otherwise, the tragic living condition of the ordinary Burmese will linger forever. The rulers have been remaining in power and have all the luxury all the way along, while the ordinary Burmese are trying to cope with the daily existence as a decent human being.
The sanctions have to stay until there's far more than just 'signs' that democracy is on the way.
Sanctions should be extended far more widely in the region. The hypocrisy of imposing sanctions on Burma, while embracing its neighbour China is astonishing. China has a recent history at least as brutal as Burma's, and wouldn't countenance freeing political prisoners.
These two disgraceful countries should be treated equally.
No doubt, sanctions against the Burmese military regime is working. It has yielded to the ILO demands partly, if not all. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, has been allowed in and able to suggest issues aimed at promoting democratisation process; and United Nations Special Representative Razali Ismail was even allowed to be critical of the lack of substantial progress, regarding the so-called secret talks between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the SPDC. All these are indications that sanctions are playing a crucial role in fostering the dialogue initiative.
However, this does not mean that humanitarian aids to the people of Burma have to be curtailed. In contrary, aids should be given to divert the looming humanitarian crisis such as HIV-AIDS epidemic, internally displaced persons and refugees problematic, just to name a few. But this should be done in a way not to look like endorsing the SPDC's badly needed "legitimacy" political posture. Apart from that, a co-ordinated effort to compliment and link democratisation process to any humanitarian aid which the international community has to offer would definitely help change the pace and widen the political arena in Burma.
The question is not if the sanctions should be lifted, but how they should be made more and more effective. We Burmese really appreciate the international effort to help make meaningful changes in Burma. We request the international community to go further to starve the regime the hard currency obtained from illegal drug traffickings. Thank you.
The sanctions on Burma should stay. The sanctions are giving military government strong notice that the international community is concerning the will of people. Sanctions are stopping military government form growing stronger. We, Burmese people are not ignored by the international community but we need more effective help than in recent days. I would like to request UN to declare military government as illegal government according to the human rights act - which was signed by the Burmese government in 1948. This action is stronger than sanctions. I think that People are suffering more than ever. Enough is enough. Let us close up the history of military government in the book of Burmese history.
Why should sanctions against Burma be lifted? The military government has not actually DONE much, apart from engage in some discussions with Suu Kyi's party, the sincerity of which are questionable, and release some prisoners, who doubtless would be back in jail within a few minutes if the government so decided. It is still a brutally repressive regime that clings to power despite the overwhelming democratic mandate achieved by the opposition. The simple fact is that sanctions will always have some negative impact on the people of the countries they are imposed against. They only work effectively if a comprehensive, crippling, short-term embargo is imposed on regimes, who then cannot survive or are forced to change. Time and time again the half-hearted, non-enforceable sanctions that the international community implements only produces negative results: They do not cripple regimes such as Burma's - they are merely irritants, yet they do retard economic growth
for the majority of the population while the elites continue to cream off more than their fair share. If anything, sanctions against Burma, and other regimes like it, should be strengthened, and governments - particularly ours - should be made to abide by them.
Nicholas Zajicek, England
The people of Burma were already in trouble long before sanctions were imposed. Sanctions are just the result of oppression by the SPDC. As long as oppression exists, sanctions should not be lifted.
It seems to me that everyone who is in favour of keeping sanctions against Burma lives outside the country. I have spoken with many people living in Burma. They all are looking forward to having more employment opportunities that may be generated by foreign investment.
Those talking about sanctions are doing good business with the military regime. Look, the Brits are the second largest investor in Burma. A number of US companies are doing good business with generals or their relatives. I do not trust anyone. If they get profit they do not care about human rights.
In the end we, the Burmese have to fight for freedom.
Economic sanctions should remain until the regime steps down from power completely. We are the victims only because of the regime, not because of the sanctions.
The classic case for sanctions is South Africa, but it's still debatable. Sanctions never worked for Iraq and North Korea. If even the enemies of these proven 'bullies' can consider providing humanitarian assistance for the people, why should our long-suffering and (generally) worse-off people deserve any less?
I think it is a question of moral responsibility which the policy makers, lobbyists, and "democracy fighters" all over the world should ultimately answer.
Helping the Burmese anti-government forces does not require mindless support of every anti-government position, particularly in circumstances such as those that cause more suffering to their fellow citizens of the lowest socio-economic levels, especially now when dialogue between Daw Aung San Su Kyi and SPDC gives an opportunity to end the conflict and both sides could seize it.
We should now find ways and means to engage constructively in national reconciliation in Burma. We should help both SPDC (Burmese ruling oligarchy) and NLD (Burmese opposition party) understand that costs of tolerance exceed costs of coercion.
I do not trust any Burmese even some of the leaders. As far as I am concerned, the government and the NLD might have some agreements but they do not want to tell the public anything. If they try to work together it will never be done. I think Burma needs to get a good leader for a bright future. The UN should wait to lift sanction Burma.
There is simply not enough information here to form an opinion. It seems that those within Burma call for an end to sanctions while those in exile call for their continuation. South Africa is an example of sanctions making a useful contribution to a campaign for democracy. The political leaders of Burma (the democratic ones) need to be absolutely sure they are providing hope for real change by supporting sanctions. I despise the regime but if they can be made to hand over power through other means then so be it. And as has been pointed out to me before, any new democratic government will need the military. So as much as their behaviour is abhorrent there needs to be constructive dialogue that will eventually bring most of them on side. Will sanctions bring this about?
I was born in Rangoon, Burma in 1951 and was forced to leave the country due to this military dictator. I don't think sanctions should be lifted right now.
First, this brutal regime is simply not interested in the advancement of the country. Their main aspiration has always been to hang on to power for as long as they can using whatever means it takes.They have demonstrated time and again that they just don't have the skills and the know-how to manage the economy (or hardly anything for that matter).
Sanctions always hurt the most vulnerable most. Why is it that the 'International' community only imposes sanctions on countries where they haven't got much to lose? No one will put sanctions on Saudi Arabia for example (for its human rights record) as it is the largest o
oil producer. Iraq has sanctions too, but is allowed to sell its oil. That is strange. Burma on the other hand doesn't have many resources that the international community might want.
Death squads, forced relocation of villages, the destruction of crops, combined with wanton rape and looting of Karen villagers by SPDC soldiers (25% of whom are estimated to be in the 13-17 year old age range) have produced probably the most ignored human crisis in the world. Additionally, any money flowing into the country, whether it be from investment or heroin, usually finds its way into the corrupt hands of the Rangoon dictatorship. Don't forget what happened in South Africa - the people never see the money anyway.
Sanctions against Burma shouldn't be lifted as long as the military regime holds the national power and restrains the fundamental human rights and freedom. Only because sanctions are effective and hurting them, regime's spokespersons, Thanegi and others, repeatedly argue sanctions are ineffective.
I was born in Burma and I lived in Burma for almost half of my life. I know exactly the cliché-crooked schemes of that regime. Believe me. No regime or ruler in the world could ever compete with the Burmese regime.
There are more than 1500 innocent-political prisoners still in regime's brutal prisons. What is the reasonable reason for even now keeping them especially at the time the regime talks aloud reconciliation?
Sanctions against Burma shouldn't be lifted unless the world clearly sees the true and sincere improvement for the people of Burma.
The economic woes encompassing Burma today is largely the own making of successive Burmese military regimes, including the present SPDC. While its decades of economic mis-management under the pretext of so-called Burmese Socialist Economy Program must has contributed to the present sorry state of economy, the real culprit lies in its failed policy implementation of "nation-building". The military's understanding of "national unity" is to subdue all other non-Burman ethnic nationalities' ethnic identities coupled with its forced assimilation scheme. In other words, to give in to its "Burmanization" program, under the pretext of national unity. It never come to its mind that there is a more acceptable notion called "unity in diversity".
The non-Burmans resistance was met with brutal suppression, resulting in thousands of fleeing refugees to neighbouring countries and thousands of land left abandoned, due to its forced relocation plan, in Shan, Karen, Karenni and Mon states.
If sanctions have any meaning, it is to drive home loud any clear that the mess originated from the military's own doing has to be cleaned up first, before anything substantial could be done to uplift the economy. And this could be spelled out in terms of accelerating the pace of democratisation process, implementation of universally accepted human rights and honouring the rights of self-determination of all Burman and non-Burman peoples alike.
If sanctions are, as the SPDC claims, ineffectual, where is the problem? I believe they are effective and they are the ONLY reason for the miniscule changes we see, a trickle of prisoner releases, and a toning down of rhetoric in the junta-controlled media. Sanctions are the best way to pursue change but they would be far more effective if countries in the region, especially Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and most importantly, Japan, used their influence to change the stalemate in Burma.
I strongly agree with Mr Zaw Oo who analysed Burma.
Today the Burmese people are no way able to get some help from the international community, because the military elite has still power, because people have no release from those who cause their suffering.
We, the Burmese people couldn't have midnight even though they have darkness in the world.
04 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
04 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
04 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
01 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
28 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
30 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
05 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Top Talking Point stories now:
Links to more Talking Point stories are at the foot of the page.
|E-mail this story to a friend|
Links to more Talking Point stories
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>> | To BBC World Service>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy