Current Issue: April 5, 2013 Next Issue: September 2013
On April 1, Burma will take a major step towards democracy. The country will hold a by-election – the first election in which national hero, opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi will be permitted to run. After 50 years of military rule, the election is a sign of hope for many wishing to see a more democratic Burma.
Canada imposed economic sanctions on Burma in 1988, in response to the human rights abuses and punishment of protesters by the military government. Earlier this month, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird visited Burma to award Suu Kyi with honourary Canadian citizenship. He applauded the Burmese government’s progress and offered support for its transition to democracy.
He did not however, remove the sanctions.
This week's podcast explores whether sanctions in Burma have been effective and if they should now be removed. Reporter Elizabeth McSheffrey speaks with two people who know the issue well: Burmese Ambassador to Canada Kyaw Tin and Mahmud Naqi, a graduate student at Carleton University, and an expert on security conflicts in Burma.
Kyaw Tin is the Burmese Ambassador to Canada. He was appointed in April 2011 after serving as the director-general of the political department of the Burmese Foreign Affairs Ministry. He has 30 years of foreign affairs experience and previously worked at the Burmese embassy in Ottawa.
Canada's sanctions against Burma
In 1988, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada imposed economic and trade sanctions against Burma in response to "the abhorrent human rights and humanitarian situation" taking place at the hands of the government. In 2007, Canada tightened the sanctions after determining the Burmese government's actions "not only oppress its own people, but also bring substantial transnational destabilizing effects which threaten peace and security."
Subject to certain exceptions, the measures implemented by the Regulations include:
Source: Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, 2008