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Government must reform to lift sanctions

Apr 7, 2009 (DVB), A letter sent to the Burmese government has blamed the country's leaders for the sanctions imposed on Burma, and spoke of the need for governmental reform as a precursor to them being lifted.

The open letter sent yesterday by 88 generation students group said that human rights abuses carried out by the ruling State Peace and Development Council is to blame for Burma's economic blockade, and therefore the SPDC had the responsibility to lift it.

The United States and, more recently, the European Union, have kept sanctions on Burma since the government failed to honour the National League for Democracy's overwhelming victory in the 1990 election.

The SPDC regularly blame opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party for sanctions.

The letter also said the SPDC must adhere to the four demands set out by the NLD: that all political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi are released without exception; that the hludaw (parliament) is convened; that dialogue between the government and opposition groups are held; and that the constitution is amended.

These demands are supported by stakeholders inside and outside the country, and by the international community, the letter said.

"Burma is facing deteriorations in politics, economy and social issues and the world is facing a global economic crisis," 88 generation student member Nay Myo said.

"Although the global crisis is not directly affecting Burma, there are repercussions."

"We 88 student generation members believe that these four points are methods that could help us overcome the current crisis faced by us," he said.

If the government continued to ignore these demands, said Nay Myo, then the economic blockade would increase.

"Whatever the consequences, the SPDC is the main culprit and these are the responsibilities of the SPDC," he added.

The letter comes amid signs that the international community is rethinking policy towards Burma.

In February Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke of the need to review sanctions on Burma, claiming they had failed to influence the military regime, and last month a senior US official, Steven Blake, made a rare visit to the country to meet with members of the SPDC.

The EU announced the same day that it would consider easing sanctions on Burma if some progress was made towards easing repression and restoring democracy in the country.

Nay Myo said however that if the government continued to ignore demands, resistance from the public would grow.

"When the public have nothing to eat and face more difficulties, it is certain that they will be on the streets again."

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet


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