Australia eases Burma sanctions

Bob Carr says around 260 people, including the president and other politicians, will have their travel and financial restrictions to Australia lifted. [AAP: Alan Porritt]
PHOTO

Bob Carr says around 260 people, including the president and other politicians, will have their travel and financial restrictions to Australia lifted. [AAP: Alan Porritt]

VIDEO from ABC News Breakfast

Bob Carr on easing Burma sanctions

Created: 16/04/2012

Last Updated: Mon, 16 Apr 2012 13:21:00 +1000

Australia is to lift financial and travel bans on hundreds of Burmese politicians and civilians following moves towards greater freedoms there.

Speaking in London, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said the country's progress towards democracy and greater freedoms deserved reward from the international community.

He said around 260 people, including the president and other politicians, would have Australian travel and financial restrictions lifted.

About 130 names will remain on the restricted list, including senior members of the Burmese military and others suspected of human rights abuses.

"We're easing sanctions after talking to Aung San Suu Kyi and others in the opposition, after talking to the government itself, (and) after talking to other nations," Senator Carr said.

"It means that the number of people in the Burmese government subject to restrictions on their financial dealings with Australia or visas to Australia will be reduced from 392 to about 130.

"That removes many of the civilians from the list, and that includes president Thein Sein and government ministers.

"But senior serving military officers and people of human rights interest will say subject to those Australian sanctions."

However, Senator Carr warned if progress was not continued, the decision could be reversed.

"I think the president is sincere, I think he deserves these rewards but of course it's always possible to resume these sanctions," he said.

The move comes after British prime minister David Cameron visited Burma last week and recommended all sanctions be lifted, except the sale of military equipment.

But the Australian Burmese community say it is too early for partial sanctions to be lifted.

Thomas Soe from the Australia Burma Campaign says many in the community would have liked a more cautious approach.

"We should definitely wait and see what the improvements [are] and the real change happen in Burma," he said.

"At the moment we start seeing the change but we are not really quite sure is it the real change or not."

Greens leader Christine Milne says there has certainly been progress made in Burma, but she is not sure of the extent of that progress.

"I'm not sure if that action is a bit premature because I haven't had a chance to talk to some of the activists about what is actually going on in Burma," she said.

"But I certainly concur that progress is being made and I'm delighted to see the success of Aung Sung Su Kyi in the recent elections there."

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