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US Senators urge Joe Biden to impose more sanctions on Myanmar junta

News Agencies | Updated on: 28 April 2021, 11:07 IST

A bipartisan group of US Senators urged the Biden to impose additional sanctions on Myanmar's military junta over its February takeover of the government.

As reported by The Hill, six senators, led by Jeff Merkley and Marco Rubio, pressed Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in a letter on Tuesday (local time) to "explore new avenues to support the people of Burma in their ongoing struggle for democracy in the face of escalating crimes against humanity."

"Since illegitimately seizing power in a coup on February 1, Tatmadaw forces have brutally murdered more than 700 protesters and detained or jailed thousands of innocent citizens across Burma. The innocent people of Burma - from children to senior citizens, journalists to teachers, not to mention already long-persecuted ethnic minorities like the Rohingya, Kachin and Karen who have been targeted by the military in the past - are at grave risk of increased violence as the military's campaign against the population continues," the group of bipartisan senators wrote.

While the members of the upper house applaud the Biden Administration's leadership in adding the Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Company Limited and the Myanmar Economic Corporation to the Treasury Department's list of targeted sanctions, the members of the upper chamber called for the administration to "explore new avenues to support" the people of Myanmar in their ongoing struggle for democracy in the face of escalating crimes against humanity being committed by the Myanmar military.

"In particular, we urge you to target or freeze all foreign currency revenues and foreign exchange reserves held in state accounts outside of Burma. As a first step, sanctions should be placed on the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), an agency within the Myanmar government's Ministry of Electricity and Energy which remains the largest source of foreign exchange for the Tatmadaw. MOGE is currently under the control of General Min Aung Hlaing, the coup leader, who has been sanctioned by the U.S. government," they wrote.

The lawmakers also called for "the joint ventures involving multinational oil and gas companies pay revenue into a trust or protected account which is either held until such time as Burma has a legitimate and democratically-elected government or used for humanitarian purposes."

Beyond cutting off revenue to the MOGE, the senators also encourage additional efforts by the Treasury Department to maximize and focus its investigative capacity to identify and block any flow of resources to the Tatmadaw and its network of cronies, while minimizing unintended harm to the people of Myanmar.

"We also welcome the Administration's efforts to ensure that our allies and others in the region work in tandem with the United States to undertake similar concrete measures that close down other sources of revenue. Working in tandem with our allies and partners, we can ensure that the people of Burma soon enjoy the safe and democratic future they are currently risking their lives to demand," the senators stated.

According to The Hill, The Biden administration has already imposed a slew of sanctions on several Burmese entities, including Myanma Timber Enterprise and Myanmar Pearl Enterprise, two companies that oversee timber and pearl exports from Myanmar, and Myanma Gems Enterprise, a government-owned firm that oversees all gemstone activities in the country.

U.S. officials have sounded the alarm over the Feb. 1 takeover and the military's brutal campaign to crack down on subsequent protests.

Myanmar's military carried out a coup on February 1, arresting top officials over alleged electoral fraud and declaring a one-year state of emergency.

More than 3,400 people have been arrested since the protests began, and 755 have been killed, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which has been tracking the developments, as cited by The Hill.


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First published: 28 April 2021, 11:07 IST