Suu Kyi says West's sanctions in Burma should remain in place

The party of the Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi believes Western sanctions should remain in place despite her release, because prohibitions hit the military regime rather than the ordinary population.

In an announcement that will disappoint Western corporations wishing to do business with Burma and exploit its rich natural resources, the National League for Democracy said its own research into the impact of sanctions revealed that it was the junta suffering and not the broader population. The NLD's complete findings will be released today.

Ms Suu Kyi and her party have for decades supported sanctions as an important tool in the struggle for democracy and to try to lever the regime into improving its record on human rights.

Some analysts and aid workers believe sanctions hurt ordinary people and further isolate the country from Western influence. Some also argue that Western companies are losing out on lucrative business while Asian nations such as China, India, South Korea and Thailand are strengthening their relationships with Burma and securing large energy and infrastructure deals.

Last year, when Ms Suu Kyi was released from seven years' house arrest, she requested briefings with Western diplomats on the impact of sanctions. Her party also set about examining their impact on the Burmese people. Last month, Ms Suu Kyi further indicated that she may call for a lifting of sanctions in a pre-recorded address to the economic summit at Davos in which she appeared to suggest they had failed to have any real effect on the junta.

She said that over the past 50 years political conflict had meant Burma had missed opportunities and its development had lagged behind that of its neighbours. "I would like to request those who have invested or who are thinking of investing in Burma to put a premium on respect for the law, on environmental and social factors, on the rights of workers, on job creation and on the promotion of technological skills," she said.

The EU first imposed restrictions against Burma in 1996 and has updated and renewed its policy every year. After the 2007 Saffron Uprising, when the junta responded brutally to widespread democracy demonstrations, Brussels enacted further sanctions, including a travel ban on Burma's top political officials, an arms embargo and a freezing of the assets in Europe of Burmese officials and their business partners.

The US first imposed broad sanctions in 1988 after the junta's crackdown on an earlier democracy movement, led largely by students, in which up to 6,000 people may have died. Washington has gradually tightened restrictions to try to force the military rulers to negotiate with the political opposition. The Obama administration sought a new diplomatic relationship with Burma, but little has come of it.

Tin Oo, the NLD vice-chairman, told the Reuters news agency that the party had been consulting economists and ordinary people. "We came to find that the sanctions affect only the leaders of the ruling regime and their close business associates, not the majority of the people," he said.

The party's senior officials also said that while they believed independent travellers should visit Burma, they did not support mass tourism projects such as cruise liners which provided "a lot of money for the regime".

Derek Tonkin, of the Myanmar Network, a UK-based organisation that publishes papers on Burma, said he believed Ms Suu Kyi did not want to lose the support of the West. He added: "I suspect this announcement is a political statement rather than something to do with economics."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower