Suu Kyi calls for further easing of Burma sanctions


Aung San Suu Kyi is in Washington at the start of an historic visit to the US

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is visiting the US, has said she supports further easing of sanctions against Burma's government.

She made the comments after talks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Mrs Clinton, for her part, warned Burma's military-backed government against "backsliding".

Western sanctions against Burma have already been loosened since the new government began enacting a series of political and social reforms.

In a speech at the US Institute of Peace in Washington, Aung San Suu Kyi said Burma had cleared the "first hurdle", adding that sanctions should be further eased as part of a partnership with the US.

"I do support the easing of sanctions, because I think that our people can start taking responsibility for their own destiny," she said.

"In the end, we have to build our own democracy."


Aung San Suu Kyi's stature is such that her views on what's happening inside Burma will to a large extent determine other countries' policies towards it.

Few governments would be willing to lift sanctions if she opposed this.

So her comments during this landmark visit to the United States, which maintains some of the toughest sanctions against Burma, are significant.

That should help smooth the way for President Thein Sein's first visit to the US next week. The Obama administration has lifted visa restrictions on the former general so he will not be confined to the UN building in New York.

He will not get the rock star reception given to Aung San Suu Kyi. It is not clear whether he will get a meeting with President Obama in the White House, as she will.

But he needs to leave the US with evidence that he is winning the battle to end Burma's isolation - perhaps a promise that remaining economic sanctions will be ended.

'Carry reforms forward'

Aung San Suu Kyi, who was freed from house arrest in 2010 and is now a member of parliament, arrived in the US on Monday for her first visit to the country in two decades.

Ms Suu Kyi was a longtime supporter of foreign sanctions.

Over the past year she has gradually softened her opposition to lifting them, says the BBC's Jonathan Head. Now she says they should no longer be relied on to maintain the momentum of reforms, the clearest statement yet by her that sanctions should be phased out.

It is a different emphasis from her comments three months ago, during her first overseas visit here in Thailand, where she warned against what she called "reckless optimism" in the world over developments in Burma, says our correspondent.

In July, US President Barack Obama announced that US companies will now be allowed to "responsibly do business in Burma".

Burmese President Thein Sein has urged Western countries to scrap all sanctions against his country.

He is also due in the US next week following his official trip to China.

Since 2010, Thein Sein's government has overseen a transition from authoritarian rule to a more inclusive system.

The EU, Australia and other countries have already eased sanctions against the country.

Mrs Clinton warned against the possibility of "backsliding" if the military-backed leadership did not introduce further reforms.

Background: Burma unrest

What sparked the violence in June?

The rape and murder of a young Buddhist woman in Rakhine in May set off a chain of deadly religious clashes

Why was a state of emergency declared?

To allow the military to take over administrative control of the region

Who are the Rohingyas?

The UN describes them as a persecuted religious and linguistic minority from western Burma. The Burmese government says they are relatively recent migrants from the Indian sub-continent. Bangladesh already hosts several hundred thousand refugees from Burma and says it cannot take any more

The secretary of state said Burma's government and opposition "need to continue the work together to unite the country, heal the wounds of the past and carry the reforms forward".

She also voiced concern about Burma's recent sectarian clashes and the country's alleged links to North Korea.

Ethnic conflict

It was the second meeting between the the Nobel laureate and Mrs Clinton, who visited Burma in December.

While in the US, Aung San Suu Kyi is scheduled to receive numerous awards, including the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honour in the US, on Wednesday.

She will also meet Burmese groups in different parts of the US.

But she is likely to face questions over the deadly ethnic conflict in western Rakhine state earlier this year.

The violence, between Burma's majority Buddhists and minority Muslims, was sparked by the rape and murder of a young Buddhist woman. Dozens of people died and thousands were displaced.

Rights groups have expressed concern over the fate of the Rohingyas, a mostly Muslim group at the centre of the unrest who Burma says are not Burmese citizens. They have often been denied asylum in neighbouring countries.

Aung San Suu Kyi has remained relatively quiet on the issue, although has called in parliament for laws to protect the rights of ethnic minorities.


More on This Story

Burma's Transition


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  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    A new fledgling democracy won't turn into "Utopia" overnight & a bit of nastiness will always be in the mix to start with. But Aung Suu Kyi needs to be listened to. She knows step by step more than anybody in her country the way ahead to furthering the staying power of her country's young Democracy. Thein Sein done his part too & President Obama should meet him, when he travels to the US.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    It ain't that easy honey child. Suu Kyi thinks Burma revolves around her it does not. World adulation of her has gone to her silly little head she imagines it's her shot to call as to what happens to Burma. There are many other factors foreign governments take into consideration one of those are intelligence reports and the power structure plus geopolitical interests. Far too premature.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Oh she is so lovely. Don't know much about Burma bu I know she is the tops, super cool lovely lady who will bring freedom to all. I guess she will give Burma a happy multicultural society just like ours.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    can we please discuss nick cleggs grovelling apology?

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    The woman seems a good sort.Her/their contry will or is being bombarded probably at its own cost.We live in a shameful world?Perhaps we do!!

    Rape & Plunder went out with the?Who was that again.Then again what would WE know?

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Mr. Naung,
    Rohingers have bad spirits,very interesting ,can you please elaborate on this Do you mean they turn into wolves on full moon or come out of graves at night as Count Dracula, then this will be a very attractive tourist destination.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Democrcy rules?
    Why are so many Dignitirys so interested?Only asking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Aung San Suu visit to U.S.A should bring positive response to Burma people and government and it should bear fruits. I hope and pray that Burma should become a progressive country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Aung San Su Kyi has lived through Myanmar's transition and is best placed to speak for her country. Hilary Clinton has expressed cautious optimism and been very supportive of Su Kyi but has kept a watchful eye throughout.Tensions between the Buddhists, Muslims are very unfortunate. The religious perspective cannot be ignored.The military is showing flexibility which is a welcome redeeming feature.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Religion and ethnicity seem to be a problem everywhere on this planet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Is there any country which put other nationalities into its Ethnic group?
    Is there any country put migrant citizens into its Ethnic group?
    Then, please do in your country first instead of blindly urging to our country, Myanmar.
    There are so many Chinese around the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    The repercussions of the British Empire are STILL being felt and will be for many years to come! Now the USA is 'trying' to police the world and just look at the total mess it is making of it! Keep your nose OUT of others bussiness because as we ALL know you get a real nasty bloody nose! Other than death and destruction WHAT has been achived to date?

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and so many other Muslim countries understand the colonial history of Bengalis migration into Burma very well.

    These countries don’t want any Bengali knowing that Bengalis or Rohingers are very dangerous and possess terrifying spirits.
    These countries will be very happy if there is an official country for Bengalis (Rohingers) other than their country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    You know that Bengalis are just migrants from the neighboring country not Myanmar historic Ethnic.
    Just like so many Chinese are spread & live as migrants in so many countries around the world.

    Then, why do you put our country, Myanmar, into huge problems?
    You are not fair to Myanmar & its people.
    You are giving so much pressure over Myanmar in wrong & injustice ways.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    The first and main culprit who brought Bengalis into Burma is the bad colony English.
    Our fault was just our weakness that the Burma officials were not cruel enough to get rid of those unwanted migrants (Bengalis) since the colonial war is over.

    It’s not fair for us to be blamed when those colonial migrants become very rude and destroy to our people & our land.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    A country can give citizenship to legal migrants of other nationalities but never put them into Ethnic group.
    To become a lawful citizen, migration must be legal and migrants must fulfill with so many necessary points.
    However, Citizenship of migrants never refers to Historic Ethnic of that country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Bengali( Rohinger) is not Myanmar Ethnic at all.
    Their first native land is India and there are so many Bengalis are still there.
    At first, they spread into so many Muslim countries including Bangladesh.
    By English colony, those Bengalis from neighboring country, Bangladesh, were forced to move into Burma as war-slaves.
    After war, they did not go back to Bangladesh and settled in Burma.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    They should make part of Burma/Myanmar into a holiday resort like Benidorm or Ibiza, it would bring then much needed tourism and money, and the police there would know how to handle the druken partygoers, it's a win win situation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Carrot and stick works. Relax sanctions subject to verifiable improvements. Re-implement sanctions if improvements not made. I'd agree with #3 Aung San Suu Kyi is probably the best opinion to listen to under the circumstances


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