Human Rights Groups Ask Obama to Tighten Sanctions on Burma

Posted July 7th, 2011 at 9:30 pm (UTC-5)
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A group of U.S.-based human rights organizations say they want President Barack Obama to expand financial sanctions against Burma and do all he can to make sure they are effective.

Officials with 22 groups said in a letter sent to the president Thursday that the Burmese government has rejected steps towards genuine democracy, including failing to free all political prisoners or holding talks with the opposition.

The officials want Mr. Obama to impose financial sanctions on current and former Burmese government leaders, including security and judicial officials. They also want sanctions against anyone who provides economic and financial support to the Burmese government.

The human rights groups are also calling on the United Nations to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma.

Some U.S. travel and economic sanctions are already in place. But the groups say the impact of the sanctions are diminished as officials find ways around them, such as setting up phony companies and using euros instead of dollars.

Burma elected a civilian government last year to take over from the long-standing military rulers.

But the opposition and human rights officials say the military is still in charge under the guise of an elected civilian administration.