The ongoing refusal to halt atrocity crimes and other human rights violations targeting civilians, including Rohingya, Kachin and Shan communities, which has worsened because of intensified conflict between the Arakan Army and the Tatmadaw in Arakan/Rakhine State, highlights the need for greater accountability in Burma/Myanmar.
In September 2018, the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Burma (FFM) found that the Tatmadaw was the key perpetrator of atrocity crimes in Arakan, Shan, and Kachin states – including rape, torture, murder, and in the case of Rohingya Muslims, genocide. However, as the FFM and others have reported, the Tatmadaw benefits from a “culture of impunity” that shields it from investigations. The government’s outright denial of security forces brutally raping Rohingya women and girls, calling them “wild claims” in a report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women earlier this month, was further evidence of this.
In light of the debates on what the international community can do to address these abuses, it is time that targeted sanctions are applied to the military’s main sources of off-budget funding – the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd (UMEHL) and the Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC). UMEHL and MEC are two of the largest and most profitable business conglomerates in Burma. Both companies were previously designated under United States sanctions due to their relationship with the military and their investments have been linked to controversial projects across the country.
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