A decision by President Barack Obama to extend some economic sanctions against Myanmar for another year has been welcomed by the US Campaign for Burma and nearly 30 other civil society and humanitarian organisations which had urged they be continued.

The reaction came after the US President told Congress by letter on May 15 that the continuation of some sanctions under the National Emergencies Act was necessary despite some progress on reforms by the Myanmar government.

The Act prohibits American businesses and individuals from investing in Myanmar or doing business with Myanmar citizens who have been involved in human rights abuses.

Obama acknowledged in the letter that the Myanmar government deserved recognition for developments that included releasing more than 1,100 political prisoners, making progress in negotiations with armed ethnic groups on a national ceasefire, the legalisation of trade unions and moves to improve labour standards.

But he said that despite the great strides that Myanmar has made in the reform process, “the situation in the country continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”.

The US Campaign for Burma said that by renewing US investment sanctions, “President Obama is recognising the perpetuation of abuse and corruption by the Burmese government that disenfranchise and harm Burma’s people”.

“The US Administration is sending a strong message that the Burmese government’s persecution of ethnic minorities, political backsliding on crucial reforms and drafting of new repressive laws will not be tolerated,” USCB policy director Rachel Wagley said in a statement .

The USCB was one of nearly 30 groups in the US, Myanmar and elsewhere which wrote to Obama on May 6 urging that the sanctions be extended.

The groups included the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), International Trade Union Confederation, Kachin Peace Network, Mae Tao Clinic, Physicians for Human Rights, Tavoyan Women’s Union, United to End Genocide and Women’s League of Burma.

Link: http://mizzima.com/mizzima-news/myanmar/item/11187-activist-groups-hail-obama-s-decision-to-extend-sanctions