Burma Campaign UK today welcomed a call by the European Parliament for more European Union (EU) sanctions on state owned banks, gas revenue, and the State Administrative Council, a body set up by the military after the coup.
The European Parliament passed a Resolution on 7th October calling for further action by the EU.
It is now almost four months since the last round of EU sanctions targeting members of the military and revenue going to the military. During this time the military has stepped up repression of those opposing the coup, with more than 7,000 political prisoners in detention and more than 1,100 people killed. At least quarter of a million people have been displaced as a result of fighter jets bombing civilian areas and attacks by the Burmese Army.
“The EU had appeared to be on the right track with regular rounds of sanctions targeting revenue to the military, but now progress has stalled,” said Mark Farmaner. “The delay in new EU sanctions not only means more money for the military, but also sends the wrong signal to the military, that the EU won’t apply more pressure.”
Under the previous military dictatorship sanctions were not applied strategically, but rather as a kind of slap on the wrist every few years in response to atrocities. It had appeared that the European Union and others were applying a more strategic approach this time, with a more systematic effort to identify sources of revenue to the military and cut them off, and doing so on a continuous basis. This is essential in order to let the military and its business allies know that the economic noose will keep tightening around their neck, there will be no let-up in pressure.
However, in recent months only the British government has continued to implement new sanctions, with the USA also failing to take further action. With the Biden administration failing to act, a new Burma sanctions bill has been introduced in Congress.
There have been no new sanctions by any country targeting gas revenues, which are one of the single biggest sources of foreign currency for the military. Nor have there been any sanctions targeting the supply of aviation fuel to the military, despite bombings and flyovers by military jets and drones resulting in tens of thousands of people being displaced and creating a humanitarian crisis.
New sanctions have an important short term financial and political impact, but in addition there is a vital long term cumulative impact of sanctions which will be effective in not only reducing revenue to the military, but also undermining the crony nepotistic business infrastructure which is so important to the military support base.
“The European Parliament has sent an important reminder to the EU that they must keep identifying and sanctioning sources of revenue to the military,” said Mark Farmaner. “EU member states have to stand up to Macron, who is putting the financial interests of Total ahead of human rights and democracy in Burma, and opposing EU sanctions on gas revenue.”