Friday, August 14, 2009

EU Sanctions Target Burmese State-run Media

The Irrawaddy News

The European Union has added four state-run media outlets to its list of Burmese sanctions targets in response to the court ruling against pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Four media enterprises—the Myanmar News and Periodicals Enterprise, which publishes three state-run newspapers; the Tatmadaw Telecasting Unit, which runs Myawaddy Television; Myanmar Radio and Television; and the Myanmar Motion Picture Enterprise—were added to the revised sanctions list published on Friday.

The EU stated that it put the media organizations on the list because they have been involved in promoting the regime’s policies and propaganda.

Responding to the move, journalists in Rangoon noted that the listed enterprises were not the only ones used by the regime to promote its policies. Private journals and magazines owned by the junta’s associates also play a similar role, they said.

“Like the state-run media, these privately owned journals and magazines run by associates of the ruling generals also play a significant role in spreading the regime’s propaganda,” said a Rangoon-based journalist who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Also added to the sanctions list were judges and government prosecutors from the Northern District Court, which sentenced Suu Kyi on August 11.

The EU sanctions on Burma includes visa bans, an arms embargo, limiting diplomatic contacts, freezing officials’ offshore accounts, and suspending non-humanitarian aid or development programs.

The European bloc first introduced sanctions on Burma in 1996. The sanctions have been updated, renewed and extended every year since then, and are set to expire on April 30, 2010, if they are not renewed.

On August 13, two days after Suu Kyi’s conviction, the Council of the European Union announced the adoption of additional sanctions against the Burmese regime to condemn “the unjustified trial of and the verdict against” the pro-democracy leader.

“Under the new restrictive measures, members of the judiciary responsible for the verdict are added to the existing list of persons and entities subject to a travel ban and to an assets freeze,” the EU council said in a press release on Thursday.

“Moreover, the persons and entities subject to the restrictive measures is extended to cover the assets freeze to enterprises that are owned and controlled by members of the regime in Burma/Myanmar or by persons or entities associated with them,” the council added.

Forty Burmese enterprises owned by cronies of the junta are included on the EU sanctions list.

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