Amnesty International Urges Caution as U.S. Restores Full Diplomatic Relations with Myanmar

Press Release
January 17, 2012

Amnesty International Urges Caution as U.S. Restores Full Diplomatic Relations with Myanmar

Organization concerned full ties may lessen pressure for additional key steps to uphold human rights in Myanmar

Contact: Sharon Singh, ssingh@aiusa.org, 202-509-8194

(Washington, D.C.) -- Suzanne Nossel, Amnesty International USA's new executive director, issued the following statement in response to announcement that the United States is restoring full diplomatic relations with Myanmar:

"Today's release of some of Myanmar's political prisoners was the result of concerted, sustained pressure by the international community and bold leadership by the United States.  While we welcome the releases, thousands more remain behind bars. Pressure for progress on the remaining prisoners and other human rights concerns in Myanmar must not abate. The risk is that the restoration of ties between the two countries may be premature and could weaken the pressure to address critical areas of unfinished business in addressing serious human rights abuses in Myanmar.  

"The United States and the international community must utilize the renewal of diplomatic ties, and the ensuing increased engagement with the government of Myanmar, as an opening to continue to push for the release of all prisoners of conscience.  Additionally, they must press for meaningful improvement in the treatment of ethnic minorities-- including in the Kayin, Kachin, and Shan States, where war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed--and for broader respect for the fundamental rights of all people in Myanmar.  The United States has demonstrated that engagement combined with pressure can deliver important breakthroughs, and must sustain both elements of its approach.

"Amnesty International reiterates its call to the United States and the international community to ensure a credible investigation and accountability relating to atrocities against ethnic civilians in Myanmar and to pressure Myanmar officials to address the situation in ethnic minority areas and other human rights concerns."  

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom and dignity are denied.

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