Economic sanctions were lifted but an arms embargo remains. What good is an arms embargo if Washington and Brussels allow their ally Israel, along with world powers like China, to keep selling arms to Burma?
By Eitay Mack
In light of the atrocities being perpetrated against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Burma, many in the European Union and in the U.S. have denounced Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, expressing deep disappointment with her conduct. In fact, their denunciations and disappointment should be addressed to themselves. As in other parts of the world, Europe and the U.S. have chosen to return to business-as-usual at the first opportunity, whitewashing the crimes of the past, evading a true accountability process, and ignoring the structural problems in Burma.
Without absolving Aung San Suu Kyi of her moral and political responsibility for the atrocities, one should note that from the beginning her formal role in Burma was nothing but a facade for a fictitious democratic process. She was not given effective control of the state’s security forces or a chance to advance real reform. Around 25 percent of seats in the parliament are reserved for the military, which is in charge of the Ministries of Border, Defense and Home Affairs, as well as appointing numerous civil servants.
The ongoing ethnic cleansing waged against the Rohingya is exceptional in its tremendous scope, but not with respect to the Burmese security forces and their allied militias’ patterns of action. For decades, the burning of villages, looting, collective punishment, population transfer, rape, torture, murder and forced disappearance — the denial of basic human and civil liberties — have been daily tools of the Burmese regime in areas of internal conflict. The EU and the U.S. know this full well, yet in September 2016 the Obama Administration concluded the lifting of economic sanctions that had been imposed on Burma. The EU did so as early as April 2013. The lifting of sanctions included no clear timetable for a transition to true civil government in Burma, nor did it include the requirement to investigate or indict those responsible for the crimes committed there. The latter were allowed to retain their power, and some of them are complicit in the ongoing crimes against the Rohingya.
In spite of the lifting of economic sanctions, the European Union and U.S. have maintained an arms embargo on Burma. But what is the...Read More