Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – International sanctions against Burma have hindered economic development in ethnic areas and should be removed, according to several ethnic political parties.
A total of 20 lawmakers-elect from the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP), the All Mon Region Democracy Party (AMRDP), the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP), the Chin National Party (CNP) and Phalon-Sawaw Democratic Party supported the lifting of sanctions at a joint meeting on January 15.
The parties urged the international community to lift economic sanctions as a way to promote economic growth.
‘Because of the sanctions, our people can only use products made in China and Thailand. They are poor quality. The sanctions damage the economy, especially in ethnic areas. Imposing sanctions is just meddling in politics’, said Pu Zozam, the CNP chairman.
As a result of the sanctions, Pu Zozam said Burma cannot ask for loans from the World Bank and banks in southeast Asia, and as a result, the jewel and timber industries in ethnic areas are not growing and trade is declining.
In the meeting, ethnic leaders also called for the release of political prisoners. In addition, the parties urged the Parliament to select ethnic representatives to be appointed as vice president and ministers in the relevant states.
Moreover, Pu Zozam said that the new government should seek out professional economic advisers because Burma’s weak economy is as a result of poor economic management by the junta.
Similarly, Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa, the current chairman of ASEAN, urged on Sunday during an ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting, that the sanctions be removed.
New Mon State Party Secretary Naing Han Tha said that while various international countries had imposed sanctions against the junta and their cronies, the sanctions against the textile industry should be lifted as it adversely affects the people.
‘The sanctions against the industries which can create many jobs should be lifted’, he said. ‘But, the sanctions against the businesses of the junta and their cronies do not affect the people. The international community should maintain the sanctions against the companies, which confiscated the peoples’ lands to build dams or to run other projects’.
He told Mizzima that the Tavoy deep-sea port project, the Shwe Gas project and some dam-projects carried out by the junta and companies from China and Thailand could damage the environment and would not bring benefits to the people, so the authorities should consider revoking the projects.
The National League for Democracy issued a statement on January 4 that the results of the sanctions should be reviewed based on conservation, social affairs and human rights factors. The statement also said that high-tech businesses and projects which can create jobs should be supported.
The Kachin Independent Organisation, the Karen National Union, the Chin National Front, the Karenni National Progressive Party, the New Mon State Party and the Shan State Progressive Party recently formed a committee to study the creation of a federal Union and called for political and racial equality and self-determination.
The second conference of the committee was held from January 11 to 14 and 20 and committee members urged that the junta engage in a serious political dialogue with ethnic groups.
Moreover, the ethnic groups agreed to co-operate in defending against the junta’s military attacks against their armies. They will hold a conference with ethnic armed groups and political groups soon, according to a committee statement.
Shwe Myo Thant, a committee spokesperson, said that international sanctions should be maintained until the junta made effective political changes.
The US and Western countries imposed sanctions against the junta, their families and their cronies because of the regime’s lack of support for democracy and its violations of human rights.