CSW backs PM's call to ease Burma sanctions
Published 13 April 2012
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has expressed its support for David Cameron's call to suspend sanctions on Burma following his historic visit to the country.
The Prime Minister is one of the first Western leaders to visit the country in decades following the introduction of significant reforms by the regime in recent months.
During his visit, Mr Cameron met opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was elected to parliament in a landslide victory in recent by-elections.
Mr Cameron met Suu Kyi in the garden of the lakeside villa where she spent 15 years under house arrest.
"I think it is right to suspend sanctions that there are against Burma," he said.
"To suspend them, not to lift them."
He continued: "[Burma] shouldn't be as poor as it is, it shouldn't have suffered under dictatorship for as long as it has and things don't have to be that way.
"I met with President Thien Sein today and there are prospects for change in Burma and I think it is right for the rest of the world to respond to those changes.
"I do think it is important to send a signal that we want to help see the changes that can bring the growth of freedom of human rights and democracy in your country."
Democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi said: "We still have a long way to go but we believe we can get there. I believe President Thien Sein is genuine about democratic reforms and I am very happy that Prime Minister Cameron thinks that the suspension of sanctions is the right way to respond to this.
"I support the lifting, rather than the suspension, of sanctions because this would be an acknowledgement of the role of the president and other reformers.
"It would also make it quite clear to those who are against reform that should they try to obstruct the way of the reformers, then sanctions could come back."
Benedict Rogers, East Asian Team Leader at CSW described the suspension of sanctions as a "bold and creative step" that "recognises the progress made by the Burmese government so far and encourages further reforms to make Burma a more democratic nation".
He said: "Crucially, suspended sanctions can be reimposed if this does not prove to be the case, flexibility which is not afforded if the sanctions were abolished altogether.
"CSW recognises the progress Burma has made so far, but warns that there are still landmark steps to be taken, such as legislative and institutional reform, the release of all remaining political prisoners and an effective dialogue with Burma's ethnic nationalities as part of a peace process.
"There is still a long way to go, and the complete lifting of all sanctions at this stage would be premature."