[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

IHT re US Sanctions

This from the IHT Front Page, lead right bar column story, and such,
went around the world to all the IHT Big Business readers in the US,
abroad, and on most Paris international airplane flights.

dawn star

Wed, April 23, 1997
U.S. Bans Any New Investment In Burma; Albright Says Regime Continues
Repression In a
'Dangerous' Way
Brian Knowlton - International Herald Tribune

WASHINGTON - The United States announced Tuesday a
ban on new investment in Burma, which Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright said was moving in the
''dangerous and disappointing direction'' of large-scale repression.

                  Burma, she said, had ''closed political party
                  offices, arrested peaceful demonstrators, and
                  harassed and intimidated those espousing democratic

                  While Washington and its allies have made clear to
                  Burma the advantages of a democratic approach, she
                  said, ''Unfortunately, the military leaders in
                  Rangoon have chosen not to listen.''

                  In Burma, a military leader defiantly dismissed the
                  U.S. measure, Reuters reported. ''It's not a
                  problem for us,'' said Lieutenant General Khin
                  Nyunt, who holds the title of Secretary One of the
                  ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council.

                  But human rights groups in the United States and
                  exiled dissidents in Thailand applauded the move,
                  which appears certain to isolate the Rangoon regime

                  The announcement ended weeks of debate in the
                  administration, which has been torn between demands
                  from the business community to resist sanctions and
                  pressure from Congress and human rights groups to
                  take a tougher stance against a regime that is
                  already one of the world's pariahs. Burma has been
                  condemned for repression of its people and
                  involvement in, or failure to curb, widespread drug

                  Mrs. Albright said that the United States had
                  discussed the latest measures with its friends in
                  Asia and Europe. It was not clear, however, whether
                  the sanctions would be mirrored by other nations.

                  She defended the decision against critics who said
                  it was hypocritical to tighten economic pressure on
                  a small, poor, inward-looking country like Burma
                  while treating the issues of trade and human rights
                  separately in China, with its enormous commercial
                  and strategic clout.

                  ''We have consistent principles and flexible
                  tactics,'' she said.

                  ''We will continue to speak out about human rights
                  violations whether they're in China, Burma or Cuba.
                  We, however, have to have a flexible approach to
                  how we deal with it, depending upon what our
                  national interests are. And we have to understand
                  where we have strategic relationships that require
                  us to take a different approach.''

                  Michael Jendrzejczyk, Washington director of Human
                  Rights Watch/Asia, agreed with Mrs. Albright that
                  the situations in Burma, which had ''singled itself
                  out for stigmatization in the eyes of the world,''
                  and China, which was struggling to manage
                  ''profound change,'' were fundamentally different.

                  He welcomed the U.S. move, saying that it would
                  increase pressure on Asian countries and others to
                  take a tougher line with Burma.

                  ''This decision will up the ante for the Japanese,
                  and especially the Association of South East Asian
                  Nations,'' he said. ''They will now be under
                  greater scrutiny to justify their constructive
                  engagement approach and prove that it has had
                  concrete results.''

                  ASEAN is planning to invite Burma to join in July.

                  The European Union decided last month to suspend
                  preferential trade benefits to Burma, and Mr.
                  Jendrzejczyk said the action Tuesday could trigger
                  debate in some European parliaments about further

                  The United Nations Human Rights Commission passed a
                  resolution last week voicing concern about rights
                  violations in Burma, including extrajudicial,
                  summary and arbitrary executions, deaths in
                  custody, torture, arbitrary arrests and forced
                  child labor.

                  The sanctions announced Tuesday apply only to new
                  investment, leaving current investors untouched.
                  The United States is the fourth-largest investor in
                  Burma, after France, Singapore and Thailand.

                  The largest U.S. investor now in the country is
                  Unocal Corp., which has joined the French petroleum
                  company Total in a $1.2 billion partnership to
                  explore for and exploit natural gas fields.

                  Roger Beach, chairman of Unocal, which is based in
                  California, said during a visit to Bangkok that the
                  sanctions were counterproductive and would hurt the
                  Burmese people, but would not affect his company's
                  investment, Reuters reported.

                  Some points of the sanctions remained unclear and
                  will not be known until President Bill Clinton
                  signs the order in the next few days. One of those
                  was whether companies now investing in Burma will
                  be permitted to increase their overall levels of

                  Mrs. Albright said the United States had urged
                  Burma's leaders, to little effect, to begin a
                  serious dialogue with the National League for
                  Democracy, the opposition group led by Daw Aung San
                  Suu Kyi, and with representatives of ethnic