Write on Wednesday, 28 May 2014 Published in Sanctions
US ambassador Derek Mitchell says there has been no change in the Obama Administration's policy of engagement with Myanmar despite the recent decision to extend some sanctions. Photo: Hein Htet/Mizzima

American ambassador Derek Mitchell has defended the recent decision by President Barack Obama to extend some sanctions against Myanmar, saying it had allowed the United States to continue to encourage the reform process and that nothing had changed in its engagement policy.

Write on Friday, 16 May 2014 Published in Myanmar

A decision by President Barack Obama to extend some economic sanctions against Myanmar for another year has been welcomed by the US Campaign for Burma and nearly 30 other civil society and humanitarian organisations which had urged they be continued.

Write on Thursday, 08 August 2013 Published in Sanctions

Burma's annual gem emporium is held in Naypyitaw, the capital. Photo: Mizzima

The United States on Wednesday renewed a ban on the import of gems from Myanmar, hoping to choke off a funding source for the powerful military after broader sanctions ended.

President Barack Obama, who has otherwise normalized relations with Myanmar to reward its democratic reforms, issued an executive order to maintain a ban on rubies and jadeite.

Write on Wednesday, 03 July 2013 Published in Regional

Myanmar's Lt-Gen Thein Htay (center right) walks with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa (center left) in Rakhine State in January. (AFP/ Indonesian Embassy handout)

The Obama administration on Tuesday slapped sanctions on a Myanmar general for his involvement in trade of arms to the Southeast Asian nation from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The move against Lt. General Thein Htay, the head of Myanmar's Directorate of Defense Industries (DDI), bars Americans from doing business with him and freezes all of his assets under U.S. jurisdiction, the Department of Treasury said.

Thein Htay, 57, was blacklisted under an executive order targeting those involved in arms trading between the DPRK and Myanmar. He was also accused of acting for DDI, which was designated in July 2012 for purchasing military equipment and material from the DPRK.

"Thein Htay has disregarded international requirements to stop purchasing military goods from North Korea, the revenues from which directly support North Korea's illicit activities," David Cohen, US Under-secretary of Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.

The US Treasury said the government of Myanmar was not targeted in the action, as it has continued to take "positive steps" in severing its military ties with the DPRK.

The Obama administration has eased sanctions on Myanmar and sent back an ambassador in response to the reforms undertaken in Myanmar in the past few years.

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Write on Tuesday, 23 April 2013 Published in Politics

Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, pictured in Luxembourg on April 22, 2013. Photo: European Union
EU foreign ministers agreed Monday to lift the last of the bloc's trade, economic and individual sanctions against Myanmar, hailing "a new chapter" with the once pariah state.

Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, pictured in Luxembourg on April 22, 2013. Photo: European Union

Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, pictured in Luxembourg on April 22, 2013. Photo: European Union
"In response to the changes that have taken place and in the expectation that they will continue, the Council [of ministers] has decided to lift all sanctions with the exception of the embargo on arms," said a statement approved without a vote.

"The EU is willing to open a new chapter in its relations with Myanmar/Burma, building a lasting partnership," it added.
The European Union began easing sanctions against Myanmar a year ago as the military, in power for decades, progressively ceded power to civilians and implemented wholesale reforms of the economy.

Ministers noted, however, that there were "still significant challenges to be addressed", in particular an end to hostilities in Kachin State and improving the plight of the Rohingya people.

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Monday that Myanmar has waged "a campaign of ethnic cleansing" against Rohingya Muslims, citing evidence of mass graves and forced displacement affecting tens of thousands.

HRW Asia head Phil Robertson said lifting the sanctions was "premature and regrettable", warning that the move lessens leverage over Myanmar.

Myanmar views its population of roughly 800,000 Rohingya as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and denies them citizenship.

To help Myanmar's economy, the EU will look at the feasibility of a bilateral investment agreement, as well as more development assistance.

To help it deal with inter-communal violence, the EU is also studying the possibility of assisting reform of the police service, in partnership with its parliament, the statement said.

In April last year, foreign ministers agreed to a one-year suspension of measures targeting almost 500 individuals and more than 800 firms to bolster a reform process which the same month saw opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's election to parliament.

Among the sanctions, hundreds of people were targeted by a travel ban and asset freeze, while on the economic front the EU had barred investments and banned imports of the country's lucrative timber, metals and gems.

During a visit to Brussels last month, the first by a Myanmar head of state, President Thein Sein urged the EU to lift sanctions, saying "we are one of the poorest countries in the world".

He received pledges of EU economic assistance coupled with calls to protect his country's ethnic minorities.

Since the former premier took over the presidency in March 2011, hundreds of political prisoners have been released and elections held.

EU development aid since has more than doubled to around 150 million Euros ($195 million) for 2012-2013.

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  2. Home truths about those Sanctions
  3. Advocacy groups urge EU to maintain sanctions

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