The United States announced Friday (July 2) sanctions against individuals and companies linked to Burma’s military officials and to the Burmese army, the latest response to the Feb. 1 military coup in the Southeast Asian country. Those sanctioned include Chinese companies.
The U.S. Treasury Department formally sanctioned seven senior military officials for the authorities’ use of lethal force to suppress pro-democracy advocates. The Treasury Department also sanctioned 15 individuals who are family members of previously sanctioned officials whose “financial networks contributed to the ill-gotten gains of military officials.
The Treasury Department statement emphasized that the sanctions are not targeted at Burmese citizens, but are intended to increase the financial burden on the Burmese military by cutting off all 22 designated individuals from access to any assets they may have in the United States.
As a complementary action, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced restrictions on trade exports to four companies that the Commerce Department says support the military’s current operations.
The companies sanctioned by the Commerce Department are King Royal Technologies Co., Ltd. which “provides satellite communications services” to the Burmese military, and three copper mining entities with financial ties to the Burmese military regime: Wanbao Mining and its two subsidiaries, Myanmar Wanbao Mining Copper, Ltd. and Myanmar Yang Tse Copper, Ltd.
Wanbao Mining is owned by the Chinese state-owned North Industries Group.
The four companies are included on the Commerce Department’s trade blacklist, known as the “Entity List. The list restricts U.S. exports to the listed companies, with limited exceptions allowed.
“We continue to encourage like-minded allies and partners to join the United States in imposing costs on these four entities and to combat other sources of revenue that support the oppressive and undemocratic activities of the Burmese military,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement Friday. “The U.S. government will continue to push to hold the perpetrators of the coup accountable and to support the people of Burma and their democratic institutions.”
The increased U.S. sanctions come just days after the United Nations released an update on the ongoing violent crackdown by Burmese authorities on their own population.
According to this report, the military has killed at least 883 unarmed people and arrested more than 5,200 activists, journalists and opponents of the coup. In addition, another 2,000 people have been forced into hiding because of active arrest warrants.
“The UN team in Burma continues to strongly condemn the widespread use of lethal force and other gross violations of human rights,” said UN spokesman Stefan Dugalik. “Our colleagues emphasize that security forces must stop and stop now the use of excessive force, including the use of live ammunition.”
Burma’s military overthrew the newly elected government led by the National League for Democracy in February, with the military claiming the NLD won the election through fraud.
Myanmar’s election commission rejected the military’s claims of election fraud.
Despite the lack of evidence, the military invoked a provision of Burma’s 2008 constitution to overthrow the government. This provision allows the military to declare a year-long state of emergency.
During the coup, the military arrested Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy. Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her efforts to promote democratization in Burma.
In June, 119 members of the United Nations, including the United States, formally condemned the coup in Burma.