More sanctions on coup anniversary

Safe to cross: A woman crossing an almost empty street near Sule Pagoda during a ‘silent strike’ to protest and mark the second anniversary of the coup in Yangon. — AFP

THE United States and its allies imposed further sanctions on Myanmar, marking the two-year anniversary of a military coup with curbs on energy officials and junta members, among others.

Washington imposed sanctions on the Union Election Commission, mining enterprises and energy officials, among others, according to a Treasury Department statement. Details of the decision were first reported by Reuters.

It marks the first time the United States has targeted Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) officials under the current Myanmar sanctions programme, a Treasury spokesperson said.

Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom also announced sanctions.

Myanmar’s top generals led a coup in February 2021 after five years of tense power-sharing under a quasi-civilian political system that was created by the military, which led to a decade of unprecedented change.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the coup, with a resistance movement fighting the military on multiple fronts after a bloody crackdown on opponents that saw Western sanctions re-imposed.

Tuesday’s US sanctions target the managing director and deputy managing director of MOGE, which is the junta’s single largest revenue generating state-owned enterprise, according to Treasury.

Human rights advocates have called for sanctions on MOGE, but Washington has so far held back.

Also designated by Washington was the Union Minister of Energy, who Treasury said represents Myanmar’s government in international and domestic energy sector engagements and manages the state-owned entities involved in the production and export of oil and gas.

Mining Enterprise No.1 and Mining Enterprise No.2, both state-owned enterprises, as well as the Union Election Commission, were also hit with sanctions by Washington.

On Friday, the junta announced tough requirements for parties to contest an election planned for August, including a huge increase in their membership, a move that could sideline the military’s opponents and cement its grip on power.The election would subvert the will of the people if opponents of the military continue to be met by violence, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

“Many key political stakeholders have announced their refusal to participate in these elections, which will be neither inclusive nor representative, and which almost certainly will fuel greater bloodshed,” he said.

The rules favour the Union Solidarity and Development Party, a military proxy stacked with former generals, which was trounced by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party in 2015 and 2020 elections.

Thousands of NLD members were arrested or jailed in the coup, including Suu Kyi, and many more are in hiding.

The NLD in November described this year’s election as “phoney” and said it would not acknowledge it.

Canada targeted six individuals and prohibited the export, sale, supply or shipment of aviation fuel in its action. The United Kingdom designated two companies and two people for helping supply Myanmar’s air force with fuel used to carry out bombing campaigns against its own citizens. — Reuters

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United States , sanctions , military coup , junta


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