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For Immediate Release

Measured Response to Easing of Sanctions Against Burma is Urged


In response to the United States Administration’s announcement this week that it would ease certain sanctions against the Government of Burma following recent positive developments in that country, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) urged the international community to maintain a measured response.

Burmese leaders have eased media controls and have allowed for greater political freedom. In by-elections on Sunday through which several dozen seats in Parliament were filled, the National League for Democracy (NLD) swept the majority of the seats and Aung San Suu Kyi, the NLD’s leader, was elected.

PHR appreciates the Administration’s overall restraint in easing sanctions. The Administration announced it would allow some US investments in Burma, upgrade the US diplomatic representation to the level of ambassador, support greater US non-governmental organization activity in the country, and lift visa bans for certain government officials.

“We are pleased to see that the Administration is recognizing the changes in Burma while acknowledging that more systematic reform is necessary,” said Bill Davis, PHR’s Burma Project Director.  “The NLD is still a tiny minority in a government controlled by the military and its allies. We are still seeing the military commit human rights violations in rural areas, most notably in the ongoing conflict in Kachin State, northern Burma.”

PHR calls on the Administration to continue its measured approach to easing sanctions by continuing to implement most prohibitions to press for deeper reform, an end to attacks on civilians, and a granting of unimpeded access to humanitarian aid groups.

Congress must also play its vital part in bringing about permanent and significant improvements in Burma by reauthorizing the sanctions against Burma.

”The Administration’s actions have shown that it  has the flexibility under the current  sanctions regime to respond to future improvements by the Government of Burma with the easing of sanctions,” said Hans Hogrefe, Chief Policy Officer at PHR. “However, the only way this flexibility will be successful is if the US demonstrates the seriousness of its demand for greater progress in the country.”

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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