The European Union has imposed sanctions on 10 of Myanmar’s military leaders, as well as two giant military conglomerates, in its toughest measures to date against the February 1 coup and the bloody crackdown on protesters demanding the return of the elected government.
Announcing the sanctions on Monday, which include asset freezes and visa bans, EU member states said the individuals were “all responsible for violating democracy and the rule of law in Myanmar / Burma , as well as repressive decisions and serious violations of human rights ”.
The Myanmar State Administration Council (SAC), set up by the military the day after it took power, was “responsible for undermining democracy and the rule of law,” said the EU in its Official Journal.
“Military forces and authorities operating under SAC control have committed serious human rights violations since February 1, 2021, killing civilian and unarmed protesters,” the EU said.
Nine of those selected are members of the State Board of Directors. Information Minister U Chit Naing was also punished.
Myanmar has been rocked by almost daily protests since the coup, and the military has stepped up its attempts to crush dissent even as the United Nations and Western countries condemned its seizure of power and the escalation of violence. violence.
Thousands of people have been arrested since the coup and at least 738 civilians have been killed, according to human rights group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which is monitoring the situation. More than 4,000 people have been arrested and 3,261 remain in detention, according to the group, which the military accused of spreading “fake news.”
The EU has also taken action against Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Company Limited (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corporation Limited (MEC) because they weredetained and controlled by the Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw), and earn income therefrom“, Add the press release.
The sprawling business interests of the conglomerates include malls, breweries, entertainment venues, and tobacco, and provide significant income to the military beyond budget. the The US and UK have already imposed sanctions on businesses and the United States also sanctioned the state gem company.
The imposition of EU sanctions today against two conglomerates belonging to Myanmar’s military is a step in the right direction.
– Global Witness (@Global_Witness) April 19, 2021
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Monday after virtual talks with his European counterparts that the military government “was leading the country to a dead end”.
This, he said, “is why we are increasing the pressure to bring the military to the negotiating table.”
Sanctions, long called for by human rights groups, prevent EU investors and banks from doing business with companies.
“MEHL and its subsidiaries generate income (for the military), thereby contributing to its ability to carry out activities undermining democracy and the rule of law and serious human rights violations in Myanmar” , said the EU. He brought the same charges against MEC and stressed that the sanctions were designed to avoid “unduly harming” the Burmese people.
The army justified its seizure of power after 10 years of attempts to progress towards democracy by asserting that the November 2020 election that brought Aung San Suu Kyi and his ruling party back into a landslide was riddled with fraud. The electoral commission, whose members were also detained during the coup, dismissed the charges.
“#ASEANThe latter’s role is more crucial than ever as the region faces an urgent crisis in Myanmar, ”says @antonioguterres. Governments must work together to “end military violence and repression”. #WhatsHappeninglnMyanmar https://t.co/drYXyRQFoY
– John Quinley III (@ john_hq3) April 20, 2021
As protests continued in Myanmar on Monday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council that a “strong international response based on a unified regional effort” was needed, urging “regional actors to pull using their influence to prevent further deterioration and ultimately find a peaceful end to this catastrophe.
10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which Myanmar joined under a previous military government in 1997, to hold special summit on coup and aftermath April 24. Min Aung Hlaing to attend.
Also addressing the Security Council, Guterres’ predecessor Ban Ki-moon also urged the Council to move beyond statements of reproach to collective action and to ASEAN, which makes decisions. by consensus and does not intervene in questions which it considers to be internal questions, to answer further. solidly.
“ASEAN must make the Myanmar military understand that the current situation is so dire that it cannot be seen as an internal matter only,” he said.
Myanmar’s elected government and its supporters set up a parallel administration – the Government of National Unity – and called on ASEAN to invite them to the top.
A group of regional parliamentarians on Tuesday urged ASEAN to “give (the unity government) a seat at the table” and to treat Min Aung Hlaing’s invitation with “extreme caution”.
“ASEAN cannot adequately discuss the situation in Myanmar without hearing and speaking to the government of national unity,” said Charles Santiago, Chairman of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) and Malaysian MP (MP). “If ASEAN’s goal is truly to strengthen democracy, as its charter says, it must give them a place at the table. After all, they embody democracy in Myanmar. “
APHR also said the regional grouping should invite Christine Schraner Burgener, the secretary-general’s special envoy on Myanmar, to the summit. She contacted the generals but they refused to allow her to visit Myanmar.