EU imposes new sanctions on military-ruled Myanmar

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Myanmar soldiers on patrol in Rakhine state in 2016. The EU has accused the military regime of grave violations of human rights, including air attacks on schools and hospitals, and using civilians as human shields in military operations [File: AFP]

Myanmar’s energy minister, businessmen, high-ranking military officers and private companies will be subject to asset freezes and travel bans.

The European Union has imposed asset freezes and travel bans on 16 individuals and entities in military-ruled Myanmar – including the energy minister, influential businessmen and high-ranking officers – over “grave” violations of human rights inside the country.

Also included in the sanctions list are politicians and administrators in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, who were said to be involved in the executions of four pro-democracy activists in July 2022, and who oversaw massacres, air raids, and used civilians as human shields during military operations in the country’s northern Kachin state.

“Those responsible for the coup, as well as the perpetrators of violence and gross human rights violations, should be held accountable,” the EU said in a statement on Monday.

The EU condemned rights violations including sexual violence, the persecution of civil society workers, human rights activists, journalists and civilians, including air raids on schools and hospitals, carried out by the military regime since it seized power on February 1, 2021.

Those sanctioned by the EU included Myanmar’s energy minister Myo Myint Oo, armed forces chief-of-staff General Maung Maung Aye, navy chief Admiral Moe Aung and the heads of three firms providing weapons to the military.

Major General Ko Ko Maung, the regional military commander in Kachin state, was also named by the EU as responsible for serious rights violations for overseeing “air strikes, massacres, raids, arson and the use of human shields committed by the military in Kachin”. In Yangon, Lieutenant Colonel Myo Myint – who previously served as a military judge – was alleged to be involved in the sentencing to death and execution of democracy activists in July 2022.

“During his tenure as Military Judge, numerous members of the opposition were sentenced to death and prison terms. He is therefore responsible for serious human rights violations since the 2021 coup,” the EU statement said.

“The EU reiterates its call for increased international preventive action, including an arms embargo in order to cease the sale and transfer of arms and equipment, as they facilitate the military’s atrocities.”

Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government has welcomed the EU’s moves, as did the Burma Campaign UK, an advocacy group which closely monitors events in the country formerly known as Burma.

Describing the sanctions as “well targeted”, the Burma Campaign said the EU had focused on people doing business with the military, including supplying aviation fuel, arms brokers, military procurement entities, as well as senior officers and associated bodies.

“These new EU sanctions are right on target, aimed at limiting air strikes and supplies of arms and equipment, as well as targeting individuals responsible for serious human rights violations,” said Anna Roberts, executive director of Burma Campaign UK.

“The EU has the right approach, but they are moving too slowly to implement these sanctions. The delay in cutting off sources of revenue, arms and equipment is costing lives,” she said in a statement.

“Two years on from the coup, there are hundreds of companies and individuals which should be sanctioned, but have not been,” Roberts said.

“The EU is implementing the right policy, but far too slowly.”

Those placed on the EU sanctions list – which already included 93 individuals and 18 entities from Myanmar – are subject to the freezing of their assets, banned from travel in the EU, and all EU citizens and entities are banned from making funds available to sanctioned individuals and entities.

The latest addition of names to the sanctions list marks the EU’s sixth round of sanctions imposed on Myanmar since the military seized power, deposing the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA

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