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Easing of Myanmar sanctions too early: Rights groups


Washington : A group of influential American human rights organisations has said the US may be moving too quickly in relaxing sanctions against Myanmar.

The group, which includes Human Rights Watch and seven other US-based organisations, sent a letter to US President Barack Obama Tuesday, questioning his administration’s decision to ease several long-standing sanctions against Myanmar earlier this month, the VOA News reported Wednesday.

The US eased several restrictions against Myanmar in early April after it held by-elections in which pro-democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party the National League for Democracy won 43 of the 44 seats it contested.

The group urged further easing of the sanctions should come only after additional political reforms, including the release of more political prisoners, and end to conflicts with ethnic rebel groups and amendments to the military-drafted constitution.

Other groups that signed the letter include Physicians for Human Rights, Open Society Foundations and the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of American labour unions, according to VOA.

However, Myanmar’s neighbours have welcomed the move that promise to provide a much-needed boost to the couuntry’s economy.

In a statement Wednesday, the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) hailed Europe’s decision to suspend most sanctions for a year. The EU said Monday that it will suspend almost all sanctions with the exception of an arms embargo.

Myanmar’s current military-backed civilian government has undertaken a series of dramatic political reforms since taking power last March, including the release of hundreds of political prisoners, holding of peace talks with ethnic rebels and the allowance of greater press freedoms.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will travel to Myanmar later this week to observe the country’s transition from military dictatorship.