Burma (MNN) — At a meeting this coming Monday, the European Union is expected to suspend sanctions on Burma for one year.
According to VOA News, the EU has plans to suspend all sanctions except an arms embargo for the next 12 months. The Associated Press reports the potential for another review by the EU in six months.
"It's a great step, the way that the sanctions were lifted. So that it does encourage more change and more progress," says Dyann Romeijn with Vision Beyond Borders. "I think that the whole consensus is that they'd like to reward the steps that have been made, but also to recognize that the steps that have been made are not enough for the sanctions to be completely lifted and ended."
Violence in Burma has been on a steady decline as the nation has welcomed more and more democratic reform, including the addition of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament. Christians have been a particular target of genocide and other attacks in the past.
"There is still some violence and some persecution against Christians and some of the tribal groups, but even that is decreasing," notes Romeijn. "That needs to end for the sanctions to be completely lifted."
The world is watching now, and the Burmese government seems to be responding. Regardless of what happens, it will take generations for the Burmese people to heal from the oppressive, military rule they suffered under. Vision Beyond Borders remains cautious, but with the EU's close eye on Burma, change seems to be genuine.
Romeijn says the kind of turnaround exhibited in this next chapter of Burma's reform story can only be the result of years of fervent prayer.
"I truly believe that there's no other way this could happen," she says. "We've seen this kind of oppression in many other countries, and you don't see that peaceful transition, which is what people have been praying for."
Under the stipulations given for lifted sanctions, Burma will have to further decrease violence and increase rights. Romeijn believes the church will soon be able to tell its story of persecution, but more importantly, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, across the nation.
Keep praying for Burma as they travel down this new road to democracy, perhaps even to Christ.