October 15, 2007

The Burma Campaign UK today welcomed an announcement by the European Union that it will impose targeted sanctions against the regime in Burma. The EU has agreed a ban on investment in, and imports of, Burmese timber, metals and gems. It is also considering a ban on all new investment if the regime does not enter into genuine dialogue with the democracy movement.

“This is a significant breakthrough,” said Zoya Phan, Campaigns Officer at the Burma Campaign UK. “The EU is finally starting to impose sanctions that bite. We have been calling for this for more than a decade. These targeted sanctions will hit the regime where it hurts them the most, in the pocket. It also sends a strong message of solidarity to the people of Burma.”

The Burma Campaign UK dismissed suggestions that the sanctions would have little impact. “The EU imports hundreds of millions of dollars worth of goods every year, these sanctions will hurt the generals and their business cronies,” said Zoya Phan.  “We need a combination of economic and political pressure from the EU, and this is a good start.”

The Burma Campaign UK also called for swift implementation of an investment ban, which is under consideration should the regime continue to defy efforts by UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari to get them to agree to negotiations with the democracy movement.

“We would have liked to have seen an immediate ban on investment,” said Zoya Phan, “but we understand the logic in delaying implementation as a way of increasing pressure on the regime to agree to talk. However, this should not been left open-ended, a deadline must be set in the near future.  The EU should also implement a ban on financial transactions.”

The EU also demanded the immediate release of political prisoners and warned that a return to the situation before the demonstrations is unacceptable. There is great concern about the fate of those who have been arrested, many of whom will be facing horrific torture.

The Burma Campaign UK also praised efforts by Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Prime Minister Gordon Brown in securing this agreement. “We appreciate the efforts that David Miliband and Gordon Brown have made to get the EU to agree to these sanctions,” said Zoya Phan. “These were obviously tough negotiations, but the British government delivered.”

For more information contact Mark Farmaner, Acting Director, on 02073244713.


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