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US, UK and Canada Ramp up Action Against Myanmar Junta

The US Treasury has imposed sanctions on Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise, the ruling junta’s main source of foreign revenue, in a bid to stop the military’s deadly attacks on civilians

Myanmar's military ruler Min Aung Hlaing presides over an parade on Armed Forces Day in Naypyidaw, March 27, 2021. More than 80 junta bases and some towns have been seized by resistance groups over the past week, exile media outlets say. (Reuters file pic).


Western nations have ramped up economic measures against the military regime in Myanmar, whose army has suffered serious setbacks in recent days to an alliance of ethnic resistance forces in the country’s north.

The US Treasury Department said on Tuesday it has imposed a form of sanctions on Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), the ruling junta’s main source of foreign revenue.

The action, which stopped short of imposing full blocking sanctions, was coordinated with Britain and Canada. It prohibits certain financial services by Americans to the state oil and gas enterprise from December 15, the Treasury said in a statement, its first direct action against the state-owned enterprise.

Washington has previously targeted military’s leadership. Financial services include loans, accounts, insurance, investments and other services, according to Treasury officials.

ALSO SEE: Myanmar Economic Crisis Worsens as Exports Plunge – Irrawaddy


Bid to end military’s atrocities

Washington also slapped sanctions on three entities and five people whom the US Treasury Department said were connected to Myanmar’s military, according to the statement.

“Today’s designations close avenues for sanctions evasion and strengthen our efforts to impose costs and promote accountability for the regime’s atrocities. We continue to encourage all countries to take tangible measures to halt the flow of arms, aviation fuel, and revenue to the military regime,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a separate statement.

Britain added five individuals and one entity involved either in providing financial services to the regime or the supply of restricted goods including aircraft parts.

Canada imposed sanctions against 39 individuals and 22 entities for supporting Myanmar’s military regime. Neither country mentioned MOGE in its announcement.

Myanmar’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Reuters was unable to reach MOGE for comment.

Myanmar has been in crisis since a military coup staged on February 1, 2021 and a deadly crackdown that gave rise to a nationwide resistance movement that won the backing of multiple ethnic minority armies all across the country.

Rights groups and United Nations experts have accused the military of committing atrocities against civilians in its efforts to crush the resistance. The junta says it is fighting “terrorists” and has ignored international calls to cease hostilities.

“Today’s action … maintains our collective pressure on Burma’s military and denies the regime access to arms and supplies necessary to commit its violent acts,” the Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in the statement, using the Southeast Asian nation’s former name.

“We remain committed to degrading the regime’s evasion tactics and continuing to hold the regime accountable for its violence.”


Push for further sanctions as attacks on civilians continue

The UN human rights expert for Myanmar in September called on the US to further tighten sanctions on the country’s military rulers to include the state oil and gas enterprise.

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

Meanwhile, atrocities have continued. On October 9, a night-time bombing raid on an IDP camp in northern Kachin state killed about 30 people and injured close to 60. A third of the victims were said to be children under the age of 16.

And thousands have been displaced or fled across the northern Shan State border to China since Operation 1027 began last Friday (Oct 27).

“I welcome the long-overdue imposition of sanctions on the #Burma junta’s oil & gas enterprises. The junta uses the profits from these companies to commit human rights abuses against innocent Burmese people,” Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on social media.

US oil major Chevron said in February it had agreed to sell its stake in an offshore gas joint venture that included MOGE.  Chevron did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Tuesday’s sanctions.

In June and July, the European Union and Washington issued sanctions against state-owned Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank (MFTB) and Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank (MICB), which allowed the junta to use foreign currency to buy jet fuel, parts for small arms production, and other supplies.

Myanmar military officials have played down the impact of sanctions.

MOGE provides hundreds of millions of dollars each year to the junta, according to the Treasury statement.

Washington also imposed sanctions on three entities it said have assisted the junta in importing arms, dual-use goods and other materials, including from Russian entities under US sanctions, according to the statement.

Sky Royal Hero Company Ltd, a Myanmar entity that the Treasury said contracted repair work from sanctioned Russian entities and has a relationship with a Myanmar defence procurement company already subject to US measures, was among those targeted.

Five officials, including the Chief of General Staff for Myanmar’s Army, Navy and Air Force, were also targeted.

Tom Andrews, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, said Tuesday’s move by the US, Britain and Canada were important steps forward and called on UN member states to take stronger action to support the people of Myanmar.

“The announcement of a US ban on financial services that benefit Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) will tighten the spigot on the junta’s single largest source of revenue,” Andrews said in a statement.


  • Reuters with additional reporting and editing by Jim Pollard




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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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