The European Union lifted Monday most of its sanctions on Myanmar, citing “the remarkable process of reform” in the Asian country.
In a statement issued in Luxembourg by the bloc’s Foreign Affairs Council, the EU added that the arms embargo on the country will remain in place. It said the EU recognized that Myanmar had “significant challenges” to confront, including “the protection of all minorities.”
Human Rights Watch condemned the EU’s decision.
“The EU’s scrapping of targeted sanctions on Burma is premature and recklessly imperils human rights gains made so far,” Lotte Leicht, EU director at the organization said in a statement. “EU member states are ditching measures that have motivated the current progress and gambling on the good will of Burma’s government and military to keep their word to keep reforms on track.”
The EU’s decision Monday came soon after the BBC reported that it had obtained video from last month’s violence in the town of Meiktila, where more than 40 people were killed in anti-Muslim violence. The video appeared to show police offers standing by while Buddhist rioters attacked Muslims in the town.
As we reported in March, violence against Muslims has been a major problem in Myanma as President Thein Sein introduces democratic changes after decades of military rule. The violence began following a dispute between a Muslim goldsmith and a Buddhist couple in Meiktila, a town some 300 miles north of Yangon, Myanmar’s main city.