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U.S. imposes new round of sanctions targeting Myanmar junta

The Treasury under Secretary Janet Yellen sanctioned two Myanmar companies on Wednesday in an attempt to cut off the flow of resources to the military junta. Pool Photo by Al Drago/UPI
The Treasury under Secretary Janet Yellen sanctioned two Myanmar companies on Wednesday in an attempt to cut off the flow of resources to the military junta. Pool Photo by Al Drago/UPI | License Photo

April 22 (UPI) -- The United States imposed sanctions against Myanmar's state-owned timber and pearl industries as the Biden administration seeks to cut key financial resources to the military junta as it violently cracks down on protesters opposing its February coup.

The Treasury on Wednesday sanctioned Myanma Timber Enterprise and Myanmar Pearl Enterprise that oversee the exports of the country's timber and pearl, which are key economic resources for the military Junta that usurped control of the government Feb. 1 after it arrested the country's civilian-elected leaders.

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The sanctions imposed Wednesday freeze all assets of the two entities and block U.S. citizens from doing business with them under an executive order that allows for the blacklisting of companies connected to the government of Myanmar.

"The Burmese military regime continues to ignore the will of the people of Burma to restore the country's path to democracy," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement while referring to Myanmar by its old name. "We will continue to support the people of Burma in their efforts to reject this coup, and we call on the military regime to cease violence, release all those unjustly detained and restore Burma's path to democracy."

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The United States has repeatedly sanctioned government entities and officials since the coup.

The sanctions Wednesday were imposed two days after the European Union sanctioned 10 people and two entities, which the United States had previously targeted, for "undermining democracy and the rule of law in Myanmar/Burma, and for repressive decisions and serious human rights violations," it said in a statement.

Since the coup, the EU has target 35 people and two companies with asset freezes and travel bans. An EU arms embargo had already been in place as well as a ban on the export of dual-use goods for use by security personnel and restrictions on the export of monitoring communications equipment.

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The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a human rights organization in the country, said in its daily update Wednesday that 739 people have been killed by the junta forces since the coup with another 3,331 people having been detained.

Tom Andrews, the United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar who has said the military was likely committing crimes against humanity, tweeted Wednesday that he is "horrified" by those figures and that the Junta's attacks have already displaced more than 250,000 people.

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"The world must act immediately to address this humanitarian catastrophe," he said.

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