Burma Campaign UK today welcomed new targeted sanctions on the Burmese military announced by the UK, USA and Canada.
The new sanctions announced today are:
- The Quarter Master General’s Office
- The Directorate for Defence Industries
- The Directorate for Defence Procurement
- The Myanmar War Veterans Organisation
The Myanmar War Veterans Organisation acts as a reserve for the military and has significant economic interests. The others are military bodies responsible for buying and manufacturing arms, Burma Campaign UK has been campaigning for sanctions on these entities.
“The British government is doing exactly what is needed, systematically identifying and sanctioning sources of revenue and arms to the military,” said Anna Roberts, Executive Director of Burma Campaign UK. “We would like to see the British government increase the pace of rounds of sanctions, and expand them to areas such as aviation fuel. Military air strikes are being made against civilian targets, causing deaths and injuries, and forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes. This has created a humanitarian crisis.”
Since the military coup on 1st February 2021 more than 1,300 people have been killed, more than 10,000 arrested and nearly 300,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.
Under the previous military dictatorship, sanctions were only introduced every few years in response to new atrocities. This time the British government is implementing sanctions in a much more strategic and effective way. This approach to implementing sanctions will have not only a financial impact on the military but also a psychological impact in letting them, and their business allies, know that the economic pressure will keep increasing.
“Inside Burma, people’s sanctions are cutting revenue to the military, with boycotts of military companies, and people refusing to pay electricity bills,” said Anna Roberts. “It’s right that the international community should join the people of Burma in seeking to cut the flow of money to the military. Liz Truss is showing global leadership in rallying allies to coordinate the implementation of targeted sanctions on the Burmese military.”
Burma Campaign UK also renewed its call for a new round of sanctions from the European Union.
“The European Union is lagging behind, with no new sanctions for almost six months,” said Anna Roberts. “The EU has economic leverage which it isn’t using. The EU must bring in a new round of sanctions and commit to implementing regular rounds of targeted sanctions in the future.”
Absent from sanctions so far are measures to stop hundreds of millions of dollars in gas revenue to the military. French company Total and US company Chevron are both involved in gas projects in Burma and are lobbying against sanctions which force them to stop financing human rights violations.
“Ten months on from the coup, President Biden and President Macron still appear more interested in protecting energy company profits than acting to stop hundreds of millions of dollars of gas revenue financing the Burmese military,” said Anna Roberts.
The Burmese military has been unable to consolidate the military coup, and is facing peaceful protests, boycotts and armed resistance every day. Today millions of people joined a nationwide silent strike, leaving city streets empty across the country. Military defectors report plummeting morale. It is vital that the British government and others do everything they can to cut the flow of arms and money to the military, deny them the legitimacy they crave, and hold them to account for the violations of international law they have committed.