Burma Campaign UK today called on the European Union to urgently speed up the process of identifying military leaders and companies to sanction in response to the military coup on 1st February. A weak international response to the coup may embolden the military to think they can commit further atrocities.
In a statement this morning the EU Foreign Ministers said: “…the Council stated that the EU stands ready to adopt restrictive measures targeting those directly responsible for the military coup and their economic interests.”
In their Conclusions they stated: “In response to the military coup, the European Union stands ready to adopt restrictive measures targeting those directly responsible. All other tools at the disposal of the European Union and its Member States will be kept under review. The European Union will seek to avoid measures which could adversely affect the people of Myanmar/Burma, especially the most vulnerable. The Council invites the High Representative and the European Commission to develop appropriate proposals in this regard.”
The language used is deliberately non-specific but could encompass sanctions against military companies as well as military leaders. Burma Campaign UK appreciates that there are legal processes to go through regarding identifying and implementing sanctions on military leaders and military companies, but EU Foreign Ministers should have been much clearer and stronger in announcing their intentions today.
“On the same day that millions of people in Burma risked their lives or imprisonment taking part in mass protests, the EU failed to announce decisive action to support them,” said Anna Roberts, Executive Director of Burma Campaign UK. “It’s not good enough for the EU to say it stands ready, they need to act now. The danger of this slow and low key response is that the generals will become more emboldened to commit further atrocities.”
On Friday protesters in Yangon went to the European Union delegation office calling on the EU to sanction military companies. Burma Campaign UK has almost 20 companies from EU member states on its ‘Dirty List’ of companies linked to Burma’s military.
“Sanctioning military leaders and companies should be a no brainer before moving on to other forms of pressure,” said Anna Roberts. “Even children being shot on the streets doesn’t seem to make EU member states feel a sense of urgency about the need to take action.”