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Southeast Asia, explained

Aung San Suu Kyi: kill the sanctions

"Our people must start taking responsibility for their own destiny."
Suu kyi us tour 2012 09 21Enlarge
Myanmar parliamentarian and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi holds the Congressional Gold Medal as she poses with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton September 19, 2012 in the Rotunda of the Capitol in Washington, DC. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Aung San Suu Kyi's historic fêting in Washington D.C. has yielded little news -- so little, in fact, that the Associated Press has published a story headlined "Suu Kyi lets on she's a light sleeper." 

But she has offered her strongest denunciation yet of America's Myanmar sanctions, which are already suspended.

"I do support the easing of sanctions because I think that our people can start taking responsibility for their own destiny," said Suu Kyi, according to BBC, while on a trip that will send her home with the Congressional Gold Medal.

It's no secret that the U.S. takes policy cues from Suu Kyi and, historically, has looked for her to bless and legitimize any major decisions on Myanmar. Sanctions are currently in limbo -- suspended but not axed entirely -- but language such as this seems to confirm that all sanctions (except for, perhaps, arms deals) will be wiped out in the near future.

So who's still speaking in favor of punitive trade embargoes against Myanmar, a nation still largely under the sway of active and retired generals from the previous junta?

The list has dwindled to groups without all that much power in Myanmar.

You have international watchdog groups, such as Human Rights Watch, which warns against being "blinded by a romantic narrative of sweeping change" as varied abuses continue. You have the United Nationalities Federal Council, representing Myanmar's beleagured ethic minorities, urging a "wait and see" approach to sanctions while warfare is ongoing in Kachin State along the Chinese border. (Check out GlobalPost's video from the war-torn region here.)

In Karen State, yet another long-running war zone temporarily quelled by ceasefire talks, the leader of the Karen ethnic group's political wing (the Karen National Union) hints that Suu Kyi's eagerness to kill sanctions will lead to bad blood with armed minority factions.

The union's secretary general, Zipporah Sein, tells the Irrawaddy outlet that "it is only Aung San Suu Kyi’s idea for sanctions to be eased in Burma and she should have discussed this with other people before saying this."

http://www.globalpost.com/globalpost-blogs/southeast-asia/aung-san-suu-kyi-sanctions

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