The European Union has imposed sanctions on 10 of Myanmar’s military leaders, as well as two giant military conglomerates, in its toughest measures yet 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 undermining democracy and the rule of law in Myanmar/Burma, and for repressive decisions and serious human rights violations”.
Myanmar’s State Administration Council (SAC), set up by the military the day after it seized power, was “responsible for undermining democracy and the rule of law”, the EU said in its Official Journal.
“The military forces and authorities operating under the control of the SAC have committed serious human rights violations since February 1, 2021, killing civilian and unarmed protesters,” the EU said.
Nine of those singled out are members of the State Administration Council. Information Minister U Chit Naing was also sanctioned.
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 have condemned their takeover and the escalating violence.
Thousands have been arrested since the coup and at least 738 civilians have been killed, according to the 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 has accused of spreading ‘fake news’.
The EU also took action against Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Company Limited (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corporation Limited (MEC), because they were “owned and controlled by the Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw), and provide revenue for it“, the statement added.
The conglomerates sprawling business interests include shopping malls, breweries, entertainment venues and tobacco and provide significant income to the military beyond the budget. The United States and the United Kingdom have already imposed sanctions on the businesses and the US has also sanctioned the state gem company.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said after the virtual talks with his EU counterparts Monday that the military government was “manoeuvring the country into a dead-end”.
That, he said, “is why we are increasing the pressure to bring the military to the negotiating table”.
The sanctions, long demanded by human rights groups, bar EU investors and banks from doing business with the companies.