AAP staff report
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 19, 2012) — The U.S. Department of the Treasury on Wednesday lifted sanctions against Burmese President Thein Sein and Lower House of Parliament Speaker Thura Shwe Mann by removing them from the list of Specially Designated Nationals.
The move comes as famed Burmese leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was in Washington on an official visit. The sanctions were in place in part for years of imprisonment of Suu Kyi and other National League for Democracy leaders.
This action allows them access to once-blocked property and assets and allows transactions involving U.S. persons or in the United States. Today’s removal also acknowledges Thein Sein and Thura Shwe Mann’s efforts on behalf of reform and supports U.S. national security and foreign policy goals.
“Thein Sein and Thura Shwe Mann have taken concrete steps to promote political reforms and human rights, and to move Burma away from repression and dictatorship toward democracy and freedom, warranting today’s delisting action,” said Under Secretary David S. Cohen.
Since Thein Sein took office as President of Burma in 2011, he has supported far-reaching reforms in the country. Thein Sein has maintained a dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the NLD, the opposition party, granted amnesty to hundreds of political prisoners, and overseen elections in which Aung San Suu Kyi and other NLD members won seats in Parliament.
Thura Shwe Mann has supported Thein Sein’s reforms and, under his leadership, the Burmese Parliament has supported democratization reforms, including passing bills granting the release of political prisoners, and a law, in consultation with the International Labor Organization, to allow for organized labor and formation of unions.
United States sanctions against certain senior government officials responsible for repressive policies in Burma have been imposed in part to signal our disapproval and to motivate such officials to abandon these policies and support political reform and human rights.
Going forward, additional listings or delistings will be pursued as appropriate to meet changing conditions in Burma. The United States Government will continue to support those promoting reform in Burma, and remains committed to preventing those who undermine or obstruct the political reform process by seeking to perpetuate violence, oppression, and corrupt practices from participating in our countries’ growing diplomatic and economic ties.
The delistings came at the same time Burmese Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was in Washington, meeting with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton.
The President expressed his admiration for Suu Kyi’s courage, determination and personal sacrifice in championing democracy and human rights over the years. He welcomed Burma’s democratic transition and the recent progress made by Suu Kyi, as leader of the National League for Democracy Party, working together with President Thein Sein.
The President reaffirmed the determination of the United States to support their sustained efforts to promote political and economic reforms and to ensure full protection of the fundamental rights of the Burmese people. He expressed his conviction that the ongoing process of reconciliation and reform offers the people of that nation the opportunity to take charge of their destiny and to shape a more peaceful, free, and prosperous future.
Secretary Clinton on Tuesday honored Suu Kyi at an event hosted by the Asia Society and Henrietta Fore.
“It’s wonderful to see Suu Kyi back in Washington as a free and forceful leader of a country opening up to the world in ways that would have been difficult to imagine even recently,” Clinton said.
She said Suu Kyi’s courage and moral leadership never wavered through years of house arrest and persecution. She said Suu Kyi and other opposition leaders have now joined with President Thein Sein and the new government to take the courageous steps necessary to drive these reforms.
“This morning at the State Department, Suu Kyi and I had the chance to talk about the work still ahead, and there is a lot of work,” Clinton said. “I think one of the important reasons for her visit at this time is to remind us of how much more still lies ahead — from strengthening the rule of law in democratic institutions to addressing the challenges in many of the ethnic conflicts and in Rakhine State. The government and the opposition need to continue to work together to unite the country, heal the wounds of the past, and carry the reforms forward. That is also key to guard against backsliding, because there are forces that would take the country in the wrong direction if given the chance.”