Aung San Suu Kyi’s readiness to consider calling for the lifting of sanctions on Burma is likely to force western governments to reconsider the measures, which have been widely criticised as poorly targeted and ineffective.
But analysts, campaigners and diplomats said on Monday that while the pro-democracy leader’s moral authority meant she would be closely listened to, it would take time and argument — and more improvements on the ground – to change long-standing policies.
“Blanket sanctions which could impact ordinary people have never been supported by Aung San Suu Kyi and her party,” Mark Farmarner, of the Burma Campaign UK, said.
“Governments will follow her lead, but they won’t do anything until she decides after consulting her own people – and that will be a long process.”
Britain said it and its EU partners would not lift the measures “until genuine progress is made on the ground”. Sunday, Canada said it would keep sanctions to maintain the pressure to restore civilian rule in Burma.
But significant changes were already afoot before Aung San Suu Kyi was released. Ten days ago, her National League for Democracy said it was ending support for a 15-year tourism boycott — opposed by many anti-regime Burmese because it hits taxis, guest house owners and souvenir sellers more than the regime loyalists who run the airline and big hotels.
“If she can be seen as supporting a fresh look, that’s a good thing. Western governments will now have to open a line of discussion with her. But I doubt whether they will do anything in the short term,” Derek Tonkin, former UK ambassador to Rangoon, said. The Guardian