Friday, February 18, 2011

Myanmar up to its old tricks, says US

From The Himalayan Times
Feb 17, 2011
WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday said military-run Myanmar is “up to its old tricks” with its threats against democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi. “Burma claims there is a new era, but it is up to its old tricks by threatening Suu Kyi,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said on Twitter.

State media in Myanmar warned that Suu Kyi and her party will “meet their tragic end” if they keep up their opposition to an end to Western sanctions.

The remarks follow a recent statement by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy that argued that punitive measures were helping to pressure the authorities and had not affected the economy significantly.

It was the first explicit criticism of the Nobel Peace Prize winner by state media since her release in November after seven years of house arrest, days after an election that was denounced by democracy activists and the West.

The NLD reacted cautiously to the commentary, saying it had not received any official response from the authorities to its statement on sanctions.

In its statement issued last week, NLD stressed that any end to sanctions on Myanmar should be linked to an improvement in the junta’s human rights record, notably the release of political prisoners. Suu Kyi’s party however, has no voice in a newly opened parliament dominated by the military and its proxies.

The remarks came days after US said it was premature to ease sanctions on Myanmar urging the regime to take more concrete steps.

Suu Kyi’s release reignited debate over the effectiveness of financial and trade measures, enforced notably by the US and EU in response to the junta’s human rights abuses. Two pro-democracy parties that took part in the November polls have called for an end to sanctions on the grounds that they do not benefit the wider population.

Some observers see the sanctions issue as her only leverage with the authorities because Western nations are considered unlikely to scrap the measures without her support.

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