November 19, 2007

The Burma Campaign UK today welcomed the imposition of a ban on imports of Burmese gems, timber and metals, and a ban on investment in these sectors. EU Foreign Ministers agreed the steps at their last meeting on October 15th.

The Burma Campaign also called for further sanctions to be introduced when EU ministers meet in December, if the regime has not started genuine talks about a transition to democracy.

“The EU must keep piling on the pressure until the regime begins real negotiations with Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic groups,” said Mark Farmaner, Acting Director of the Burma Campaign UK. “There should be a rolling series of sanctions, including banning all investment, sanctions on banking and financial transactions, and a ban of insurance companies providing cover for Burma.”

The dictatorship ruling Burma is still refusing to enter into genuine negotiations, despite a United Nations Security Council statement calling on them to do so. UN envoys have been going back and forth to Burma since 1990, without a single democratic reform to show for it. In 2001 a UN led initiative to broker talks made greater progress than the current UN effort. On that occasion the regime released Aung San Suu Kyi and promised that there would be talks, but again they only talked about talks. The current initiative hasn’t even got the situation back to the level of progress made in 2001.

“The regime does not respect UN envoys,” said Mark Farmaner. “We need economic sanctions to help force the regime into genuine talks, otherwise we fear this initiative will fail, as others have in the past. It is already obvious that the regime is using delaying tactics. We know from experience that just calling for talks is not enough. This regime will have to be forced to the negotiating table through economic and political pressure.”

EU Foreign Ministers next meet on December 10th 2007.

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