The situation on the ground does not justify the lifting of all sanctionssaid Aung Din, former political prisoner and Executive Director of the U.S. Campaign for Burma.
There are three major areas where changes are not in effect. First, the judiciary system is still not independent and impartial. Many laws and decrees created by the successive military regimes to oppress democratic opposition are still active and being implemented. Second, the country’s economy is still controlled by the military, crony capitalists, and families of the regime. Third, the Burmese military is still above the law and dominant in the country’s political affairs with unchecked powers. There is no sign in sight that the Burmese military will stop committing human rights violations and come under civilian control.
Some political prisoners have been released conditionally, but still more than 300 political prisoners remain incarcerated. Some Burmese activists in exile are encouraged to return home, but Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min, a human rights lawyer who returned to Burma earlier this year after three years in exile, was sentenced to six months in prison for trump-up charges.
Significant numbers of ethnic resistance groups have entered into precarious ceasefire agreement with the government. The Burmese military has refused to listen to the order of the President who asked them to stop fighting in Kachin State. The Burmese Army ended a 17 year-old ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) in June 2011 and to this day they have escalated their attacks, sending 120 battalions to take control over the natural resource-rich Kachin areas. The Burmese Army’s attacks have displaced nearly 100,000 refugees in Kachin and Northern Shan States and denied humanitarian access, resulting in the callous and unnecessary deaths of Kachin civilians.
And 13 activists were arrested just last week and face years of imprisonment for leading a peaceful march in Rangoon to commemorate the International Day of Peace on September 21, 2012.
“Although the United States and many governments in Europe and Asia have continuously praised President Thein Sein for the changes taken place in Burma, these are half-way measures in some areas as well as areas that haven’t changed at all. These changes are not secure and irreversible yet, and it is the major reason for the argument made by key stakeholders of Burma, ethnic nationalities, civil society organizations and democracy activists who all request the United States to maintain the remaining sanctions. However, their voices are simply ignored”, said Aung Din,