|Temporary lifting of Burma sanctions welcomed|
|Tuesday, 24 April 2012|
Christian Solidarity Worldwide has welcomed the European Union’s decision to suspend sanctions against Burma for a year.The EU’s Foreign Affairs Council moved to temporarily suspend economic sanctions against the country in light of recent reforms, including the release of political prisoners and a historic by-election which saw a landslide victory by the pro-democracy party of Aung San Suu Kyi. “As a means to welcome and encourage the reform process, the Council will suspend restrictive measures imposed on the government, with the exception of the arms embargo, which it will retain," it said.
“The Council will monitor closely the situation on the ground, keep its measures under constant review and respond positively to progress on ongoing reforms.”
The EU said it still expects the unconditional release of remaining political prisoners and the removal of all restrictions placed on those who have already been freed.
It also called for "substantially improved" access for humanitarian assistance, especially for those affected by the conflict in Kachin State and along the eastern border, as well as moves towards improving the welfare of the predominantly Muslim Rohingya people.
The Rohingya live in northern Arakan State but are denied citizenship and are subjected to severe restrictions and persecution.
CSW said human rights abuses and attacks on ethnic civilians by the military were "widespread and systematic”.
It received reports that local officials last week destroyed a clock tower with a Christian cross in the village of Mualbem, in the Tedim Township, Chin State. The clock tower was built in 2009 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Assemblies of God church in the village. It is not clear why the structure was destroyed.The EU said it would continue to monitor the situation in Burma closely, a decision welcomed by CSW’s East Asia team leader Benedict Rogers.
“We welcome the EU’s decision to suspend sanctions for a year, rather than lift them completely," he said.“This sends a clear message to the Burmese government that the changes which have taken place so far are recognised and welcomed, and that the international community stands ready to support the reform process, while at the same time making it clear that much more needs to be done before sanctions can be completely lifted.
“There is also a clear message that if the reform process stalls or reverses, sanctions can be re-imposed
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