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Canadian Foreign Minister Announces Further Actions Against Burma - 2003-07-10


Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham today announced further measures against Burma in response to the State Peace and Development Council's (SPDC) continued harassment and imprisonment of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her National League for Democracy party.

These measures include denying visas to members of the SPDC and senior Burmese government officials, and placing travel restrictions on Burmese diplomats in Canada.

Mr. Graham also reiterated the Government of Canada's call on the business community not to engage in further investment agreements or commercial ventures in Burma until the political situation improves.

Since 1988, Canada has put in place numerous economic measures against Burma. These include banning the export of arms, limiting export permits essentially to humanitarian goods, withdrawing preferential imports tariffs, cutting commercial support and suspending bilateral aid.

In January 2003, Burma was also excluded from Canada's Least Developed Country (LDC) Market Access initiative, which eliminates most duties and quotas on imports from the other 48 LDCs.

"These new restrictions signal our condemnation of recent state-sponsored attacks on Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters and their continued detention," said Mr. Graham. "Canada is pleased to be among those members of the international community who are stepping up direct political and economic pressure on the regime."

Restrictive measures imposed by Canada are intended to directly target senior members of the military regime. Immigration officials will deny visas for Canada to members of Burma's past and present military juntas, senior government officials and members of the military suspected of involvement in human rights violations.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade will also place travel restrictions on Burmese diplomats, obliging these officials to notify the Canadian government when they travel outside Ottawa.

Mr. Graham reminded Canadians that traveling in Burma helps support the Burmese military regime, which profits from the tourism sector.

Canada has been working closely with members of the international community to urge the SPDC to release all political prisoners and engage in a substantive dialogue on national reconciliation.

In the last few weeks, Mr. Graham has raised the current situation in Burma with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his Special Envoy to Burma Razali Ismail.

He also discussed the need for stronger international pressure on Burma with his counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (foreign ministers from Burma, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) at their annual meetings held from June 17 to 19 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

In the past decade, Canada has contributed over $18 million in humanitarian relief and capacity building to Burmese refugees who have been forced to flee their country.

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