The European Union has decided to expand its sanctions against Myanmar’s military leaders and army-affiliated companies in response to violence unleashed on people protesting a Feb. 1 coup. The Council of the European Union’s latest sanctions were against 10 individuals and two military-controlled companies already subject to sanctions by the US, Britain and other governments, as arabnews.com reports.
It is unclear if such moves are having any influence as the military keep escalating its efforts to crush opposition to its seizure of power. Myanmar’s economy has plunged into crisis. The internal situation was aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic and by the mass civil disobedience movement that arose following the Feb. 1 coup. The EU specified the number of individuals under sanctions was expanded to 35 people that it said were responsible for undermining democracy and the rule of law, for repressive decisions and for grave violation of human rights.
The two military-controlled companies, Myanma Economic Holdings Public Company Ltd. (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corp. (MEC), have vast holdings in many industries and help to fund the military. All are subject to having their assets frozen, travel banned and other measures. EU citizens and businesses are banned from doing business or providing funds to them without special permission.
The EU specified in its statement that its decision is a sign of the EU’s unity and determination in condemning the shocking acts of the military junta, and aims at effecting change in the junta’s leadership.
“Today’s decision also sends a clear message to the military leadership: continuing on the current path will only bring further suffering and will never grant any legitimacy,” it reads.
Since the coup, security forces have killed at least 738 protesters and bystanders, according to the data of Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which monitors casualties and arrests. It points out more than 3,200 people are still detained, among the nation’s deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.
The EU already had an embargo on sales to Myanmar of arms and equipment that can be used for internal repression; an export ban on dual-use goods for use by the military and border guard police; export restrictions on equipment for monitoring communications that could be used for internal repression, and a prohibition on military training for and military cooperation with the army.
Last week, the US S&P 500 said it was removing India’s Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd. from its sustainability index due to its alleged dealings with Myanmar authorities. Adani did not respond to a request for comment on that move.
Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday exhorted the UN Security Council to act immediately to halt the violence and protect civilians. So far, the council has not taken such action, which would likely be blocked by China and Russia.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations — which is holding a summit on Myanmar this month — maintains a policy of “non-interference” in each others’ political matters and has rejected the idea of imposing sanctions against the junta.
Ban urged ASEAN to send a high-level delegation to Myanmar. He said he had tried unsuccessfully to make a diplomatic visit himself.