Burma Campaign UK today welcomed sanctions on military owned companies imposed by the European Union today. EU Foreign Ministers meeting today have confirmed sanctions on two huge military owned conglomerates, Myanmar Economic Corporation, and Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd.
In 2019 the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar called for sanctions on these companies because of the role they play in financing the military and the human rights violations they commit.
“It is very good news that the EU has finally sanctioned these military companies,” said Anna Roberts, Executive Director of Burma Campaign UK. “These sanctions need to be a first step in a systematic international effort to apply economic pressure on the military. The EU should now follow these measures with sanctions on state owned timber and gems enterprises and a ban on imports of timber and gems.”
More than a dozen companies from EU member states feature on the ‘Dirty List’ of companies linked to the Burmese military. The 27 member countries of the European Union join the USA, Canada and UK in sanctioning military companies.
EU sanctions will cover the SWIFT international financial transfer system, as SWIFT is based in Belgium. This will increase the effectiveness of the sanctions, as sanctioned companies will also be cut off from the main international banking and financial transfer system.
Since the military coup on the 1st February, the international community has been quick to issue statements but slow to take action. This has led to concerns that the slow international response will encourage the military to believe they can keep committing atrocities without paying any significant price internationally.
“There is no single measure the international community can take to deliver a knockout blow to the military,” said Anna Roberts. “Economic sanctions need to be combined with other tools such as using international law mechanisms, political pressure, and building a coalition of countries imposing arms embargoes. More than 700 people have been killed and more than 3,000 arrested since the coup began. The people of Burma are risking everything to win their freedom, but the EU and rest of the international community isn’t doing everything it can to support them.”