Tue, Apr 28, 2009 - Page 5 News List

EU foreign ministers to renew sanctions against Myanmar

AP , BRUSSELS

EU foreign ministers planned to renew sanctions against Myanmar yesterday to push for democratic change.

A draft of a declaration says the military regime in Myanmar has yet to take the steps needed to make next year’s elections “credible” and “inclusive.”

It said military leaders must release Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners.

Officials said the EU would extend for another 12 months a travel ban on top political officials, an arms embargo and a freeze of Myanmar assets in Europe.

The foreign ministers were expected to endorse the declaration at talks in Luxembourg yesterday, officials and diplomats said. The sanctions were put in place in 2006 to protest the junta’s crackdown on pro-democracy groups.

The EU added other economic sanctions in 2007, including a ban on imports of timber, gemstones and precious metals from Myanmar.

The sanctions have had little effect on the behavior of Myanmar’s military, which has held power since 1962.

Military courts have sentenced hundreds of activists to prison, some for terms of 104 years, in recent months.

The draft also raises concerns over the treatment of ethnic minorities in Myanmar, notably the Rohingya minority, which has no right to citizenship. Rights groups say the 800,000 Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar face forced labor, land seizures and rape.

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