Poor record for Myanmar in extractive industries

May 23, 2013 at 5:58 AM

WASHINGTON, May 23 (UPI) -- Easing economic pressure on Myanmar ignores serious human rights abuses in the country's extractive industries sector, an advocacy group said.

U.S. President Barack Obama met with Myanmar President Thein Sein this week. Obama praised Myanmar for democratic reforms enacted since 2010 but expressed concern about the country's security situation.

Myanmar extended a state of emergency this week in parts of the country affected by religious violence.

Advocacy group EarthRights International said the country's oil and natural gas sector has a history of forced labor and its mining sector has a legacy of repression.

"Although the current regime has taken some important steps to fight problems like forced labor, ERI, its partners, and other civil society and labor groups have observed human rights abuses associated with foreign economic activity with troubling frequency," the group said in a statement.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., this week said he wasn't going to press for an extension on sanctions on Myanmar in light of its political progress.

Myanmar ranked last in a report from Revenue Watch Institute on transparency in extractive industries. Myanmar Energy Minister Than Htay has pledged to implement the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

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