March 25, 2021

Burma Campaign UK today welcomed moves by the UK and USA to sanction military owned companies.

The UK has sanctioned military conglomerate Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL). The USA has sanctioned MEHL and the other big military conglomerate, Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC). It is essential that the UK now moves swiftly to also sanctions MEC.

“We welcome this long overdue action by the British government,” said Anna Roberts, Executive Director of Burma Campaign UK. “We hope they will move swiftly to expand these sanctions to all military companies in order to stop British companies doing any form of business with the military, including providing financial and insurance services.”

It is two years since the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar called on all UN members to impose sanctions on military companies because of their role in financing violations of international law by the Burmese military. The UK, USA and every other UN member state ignored the UN Fact-Finding Mission recommendations.

Burma Campaign UK believes that allowing the Burmese military to get away with genocide of the Rohingya will have encouraged the military to believe they could also get away with holding the coup on 1st February without facing serious consequences by the international community. The only sanctions on the military following the genocide were a few soldiers being banned from taking holidays in western countries. 

“The UK and USA have shown leadership in targeting the economic interests of the military and we would now like to see them show leadership in supporting international justice mechanisms,” said Anna Roberts. “The US should also impose sanctions to prevent Chevron paying gas revenues to the military.”

Dominic Raab refuses to publicly support referring Burma to the International Criminal Court (ICC), citing a potential veto at the UN Security Council by Russia and China. This is despite the UK publicly supporting referring Syria to the ICC, which faces the same problem.

Dominic Raab has also effectively refused to join the Rohingya genocide case at the International Court of Justice, resisting calls from the Rohingya community in the UK, Burma Campaign UK and more than a hundred members of Parliament.

“Dominic Raab talks about accountability and then refuses to support accountability mechanisms,” said Anna Roberts. “The UK needs to use every tool available to pressure the military, economic, legal and diplomatic.”

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