US hits Myanmar with new sanctions on coup's 2nd anniversary


Filipino activists stage a protest in solidarity with Myanmar citizens, two years since Myanmar's military coup, outside the Embassy of Myanmar in Makati City, Philippines, Feb1, 2023. - Reuters

WASHINGTON (AFP): The United States slapped fresh sanctions on Myanmar Tuesday (Jan 31), a day before the South-East Asian country marks the second anniversary of a military coup that launched a violent campaign against democracy activists.

The US Treasury placed sanctions on Myanmar Energy Minister Myo Myint Oo and the top two officials of the state-owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise.

It also placed sanctions on Myanmar Air Force chief Htun Aung; Hla Swe, a former military official that the Treasury said provides arms to pro-regime militias; and Htoo Htwe Tay Za, daughter of Tay Za, a businessman whose large Htoo Group works closely with the Myanmar military.

In addition, the Treasury sanctions the military-controlled Union Election Commission and two state-owned mining companies.

The sanctions, announced in parallel with similar actions by Canada and Britain, came after Myanmar's junta cast doubt on its announced plan to hold new elections, saying the country had "not returned to normalcy."

Junta opponents, including anti-coup "People's Defence Forces" and a shadow government, had tried to seize "state power by means of unrest and violence," the military-dominated National Defence and Security Council said Tuesday.

Those "who want utter devastation of the state are continuing their activities," it said.

The military seized power on Feb 1, 2021, overthrowing the democratically elected government and removing president Win Myint and state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi from office.

"Over the past two years, the military has continued to use violence and oppression to deny the people of Burma the ability to choose their own leaders," the Treasury said, using the former official name of the country.

The junta "has used its military aircraft -- with support from Russia in particular -- to conduct aerial bombings and other attacks against pro-democracy forces, while simultaneously killing and displacing civilians," it said.

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