Myanmar’s shadow government, armed resistance groups and activists have welcomed the U.S. Treasury Department’s expansion of sanctions against those who procure jet fuel that the military regime uses to strike civilians with a frequency of almost every two days.
Announcing the move on Wednesday, the U.S. Treasury Department said more than 3,900 civilians had been killed by the regime since it took power in February 2021, with the junta increasingly reliant on “terrorist attacks” targeting civilians including “women and schoolchildren”. violent airstrikes” to maintain its grip on power.
Kyaw Zaw, spokesman for the presidential office of Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government (NUG), welcomed the sanctions, saying they would help prevent casualties from junta airstrikes.
“The military used these planes to kill innocent civilians and destroy hospitals, clinics, religious buildings and houses. The military government’s airstrikes killed many people. We welcome the US aim to stop such losses,” he told Radio Free Asia’s Burmese channel.
Wednesday’s announcement also included the designation of two Myanmar individuals — Khin Phyu Win and Zaw Min Tun — and a company, Shoon Energy Pte. Ltd. Ltd. – The Ministry of Finance says the company is involved in procuring jet fuel for use by the Myanmar military.
The sanctions mean that U.S. citizens and businesses, including banks, cannot establish any business relationships with the targets.
The announcement singled out two recent airstrikes targeting civilians in the Sagaing area – one of which in april and a in june — as an impetus to expand sanctions, saying they would “further deprive the regime of resources to oppress its citizens.”
Since the February 2021 coup, Sagaing has been a hotbed of conflict between the military and the anti-junta People’s Defense Forces (PDF) paramilitary forces. The United Nations says nearly 800,000 residents of the region have been forced to flee the conflict since the junta took power.
frequent air strikes
Since the military took power, the junta has carried out at least 1,427 airstrikes, almost every two days, according to a May report by Nyan Lynn Thit Analytica.
Karen state, home to the Karen National Union army, had the most strikes since the 27-month junta rule that ended in May, followed by Sagaing province.
A Karen People’s Defense Force member, who declined to be named for security reasons, said U.S. sanctions would strengthen resistance and protect civilians.
“Our revolutionary forces gladly welcome and support such sanctions,” he said. “The junta’s attacks using aircraft have not only affected our revolutionary forces, but also innocent civilians. Many people have been injured or killed as a result of such attacks.”
Since March 1, human rights groups such as Amnesty International, Global Witness and the Myanmar Campaign (UK) have released reports urging the international community to sanction large energy companies that sell jet fuel to the junta, as well as transport and insurance companies that help the junta Purchase it.
Campaign for Myanmar (UK) director Mark Farmaner praised Washington’s response this week, calling it “one of the best things the US government can do to prevent human rights abuses and a humanitarian crisis in Myanmar”.
“Sanctions will not change our country”
But U Thein Ou, executive director of the Seninger Institute for Strategic Studies, which is made up of former military officers, said the sanctions had little impact on Myanmar as a whole, but had a huge negative impact on its people.
He said: “Western countries always think that such sanctions can change the course of a country, but when you look at the history of the world, it has only succeeded in countries that are almost completely isolated and helpless. Sanctions will not change our country.” Countries change in the direction they want, even though it affects the grassroots. “
On Thursday, Radio Free Asia tried to contact the junta’s deputy information minister, Major General Jomin Tun, for comment on the sanctions, but received no reply.
Ko Mike, spokesman for the Blood Money Campaign, a group of Burmese activists working to stop the junta from receiving revenue, believes that, if implemented properly, the jet fuel sanctions will have a meaningful impact. meaning impact.
“army [in prior regimes] have gone through such sanctions and found ways to manipulate its path in order to continue on its course,” he noted. “If the U.S. government cooperates properly with governments [Association of Southeast Asian Nation] Countries like Singapore, I believe they will be able to impose a more effective jet fuel embargo against the military government. “
Since the coup, the United States has gradually increased its economic sanctions against the military government.
In June, Washington sanctioned two of Myanmar’s state-owned banks — the Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank and the Myanmar Investment and Commercial Bank — to cut off the regime’s funding for arms purchases from foreign sellers.
Than Than Shwe tell the businessman Sanctions and their impact made the regime “furious” over the weekend, while junta chief Gen. Min Aung Hlaing accused “certain countries” of using the dollar “as a weapon” in a video speech at the 11th Moscow Conference August 15 on International Safety.
Other banks have also taken steps. Since the sanctions were imposed, United Overseas Bank, one of Singapore’s largest banks, announced earlier this month that it would suspend all interbank business with Myanmar from Sept. 1.
Sonali Bank, owned by the Bangladeshi government, also announced last week that it had frozen accounts at two banks worth more than $1.1 million combined.
Translated by Miao Minang. Edited by Joshua Lipes and Malcolm Foster.