By WAI MOE
Burma’s influential dissident group, the 88 Generation Students group, said on Monday that respect for human rights in Burma by the ruling junta could lead to an end to international economic sanctions.
The group said in an open letter to the ruling State Peace and Development Council that if the junta respected human rights and moved toward democratic changes in the interest of the country, the international economic sanctions against Burma would be lifted.
“The Western democracies have placed economic and social sanctions on Burma to protest against human rights violations by the Burmese junta, so the junta should show its respect for human rights and for the Burmese people,” said Tun Myint Aung, a spokesperson for the group.
The student group also endorsed the four goals of the political opposition group, the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, as a way to resolve the ongoing political stand-off in the country.
The four goals are the unconditional release of all political prisoners including Suu Kyi; the convening of parliament; genuine political dialogue; and a review of the 2008 constitution.
The letter said that the junta had failed to recognize the opposition’s proposals and has continued repressive measures such as restricting political movement and arresting pro-democracy and human rights activists.
The 88 Generation Students group played a key role in the protests against a hike in fuel prices by the military regime in mid-August 2007, which led to massive demonstrations in the country in September 2007.
Most of the group’s leaders, including Min Ko Naing, Ko Ko Gyi and Phyoe Cho, were arrested, convicted of crimes against the state and are serving long prison sentences.
A day after the 88 group’s open letter, a pro-junta group, the “Anti Sanctions Campaign at Home and Abroad 2009,” held a press conference at the City Star Hotel in Rangoon, in which it blamed Suu Kyi for the economic sanctions on Burma, according to a source at the press conference.
The group said in a statement that economic sanctions are a non-humanitarian policy and they only delay a democratic transition in Burma.