The Obama administration made the announcement on Thursday, calling for an ease of restrictions on many of Myanmar’s military rulers, their business partners and immediate families.
Last year, Washington lifted a set of sanctions against Myanmar that limited trade between the two countries, including removing Myanmar’s President Thein Sein from the list of banned officials.
“Since 2011, the civilian-led Government of Burma has taken important steps toward significant social, political, and economic reform that demonstrate substantial progress on areas of concern,” the US Department of State said.
Myanmar’s government has been repeatedly criticized for failing to protect the Rohingyas.
Recently, hundreds of Buddhist extremists armed with bricks stormed shops and homes of Muslims in the western village of Okkan.
In March, more than 40 people were killed and a number of mosques and homes of Muslims were burned in central Myanmar, indicating a rise in the persecution of Muslims.
The Muslim minority of Rohingyas in Myanmar accounts for about five percent of the country’s population of nearly 60 million. The persecuted minority has faced torture, neglect, and repression since the country achieved independence in 1948.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, said on March 28 that he had received reports that Myanmar’s soldiers and police sometimes stood by “while atrocities have been committed before their very eyes” by well-organized Buddhist mobs in the central city of Meiktila.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on Myanmar’s government to address the plight of the Rohingya Muslim population and to protect the community against extremists.
In April, the European Union also lifted most of its sanctions against Myanmar, a move criticized by Human Rights Watch.