Executions revive pressure for more sanctions

RECENT executions of four democracy activists in Myanmar have reenergised efforts to get the United States and other countries to impose further sanctions against military leaders who ousted an elected government early last year.

Human rights advocates and comments by US lawmakers suggest the Senate is inching toward passage of the Burma Act, legislation already passed by the House of Representatives.

Among other actions, it would pave the way for sanctions on Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (Moge), a state-controlled company that is a vital source of hard cash for the impoverished nation.

That makes Moge a key target in the ongoing push to cut off funding for the military’s efforts to quash a widespread public backlash against its February 2021 seizure of power.

Myanmar, also called Burma, has been ruled by the military for most of the past 70 years.

The army’s takeover interrupted a gradual transition toward democratic civilian government and a more modern, open economy and resulted in a slew of sanctions against the military, which controls many industries, army family members and cronies.

The hangings in late July of four political activists prompted condemnation and stronger calls from US lawmakers for Myanmar’s neighbours, especially the 10-member Asean, to exert more pressure on the country’s military rulers.

“It is time for them to impose meaningful consequences on the junta in Burma that is literally getting away with murder,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a supporter of ousted Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, said in a recent statement.

If Myanmar’s neighbours and Asean wouldn’t do more, the United States should “turn up the heat” on the army and its sources of financial support, he said.

“This should include sanctions on Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise,” McConnell added. — AP

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