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Encouraging Further Democratic Reforms In Burma

Burma's Political Reforms Bring Unique Opportunities. (File)

The United States has taken steps to encourage Burma’s progress in becoming a more open and democratic nation.

The United States has taken steps to encourage Burma’s progress in becoming a more open and democratic nation. Recently, the U.S. terminated a broad travel restriction that had applied to all senior Burmese officials and those who benefited from military rule. The U.S. also renewed the legal authority for economic sanctions with respect to Burma.

Encouraging Further Democratic Reforms In Burma
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As the civilian-led Burmese government continues to reform, the U.S. has moved from broad sanctions on Burma that apply across the Burmese government and economy to more limited restrictions that target those who hinder the country’s democratic transition. Last week’s actions allow the U.S. to continue to exclude certain problematic individuals or companies from benefiting from renewed bilateral economic ties.

The visa ban, enacted in 1996, barred most Burmese government and military officials and members of their immediate family from traveling to the U.S. Termination of this ban is an important step to facilitating travel to the United States by those who support democratic reforms. It will ease access to information-sharing and bilateral people-to-people exchanges. Other visa restrictions will still apply, including visa bans on Burmese officials who obstruct reform or perpetuate human rights abuses.

These two actions are consistent with the United States’ calibrated approach to strengthen and encourage further reform, while holding Burma to its commitments on human rights and democratization.

Under President Thein Sein, Burma’s civilian-led government has taken important steps toward significant social, political and economic reform. These include legislative by-elections in 2012 that opened the door to Parliament for greater participation of the democratic opposition; the lifting of censorship and press restrictions; and the freeing of many political prisoners.

As the Burmese government continues on the path of democratic reform, the U.S. remains committed to helping Burma ensure greater freedoms and a more inclusive and open society.