More Money, More Junta Violence

October 2nd, 2023  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  7 minute read
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The reality is that every kyat the junta gets in its blood-soaked hands goes directly to its violence against the people or to the pockets of its highest generals.

Junta leadership has recently used allegations of corruption to crack down on its own high-ranking officials and business cronies, in a series of desperate attempts to shore up its finances. The cash-strapped junta’s targeting of its close domestic allies puts on full display that its power is crumbling. In its desperation, the junta is shamelessly destroying the Myanmar economy to hoard wealth for itself while funding its war of terror against the people of Myanmar. To support the people’s ongoing resistance, which pursues sustainable peace and solutions to the multi-faceted crisis caused by the military junta, the international community must increase targeted and coordinated sanctions on junta revenue flows to end its access to cash and weapons, once and for all.

The junta’s crackdown on select high-ranking officials and other cronies is nothing more than a fraught and futile attempt to deflect blame and identify scapegoats for Myanmar’s economic collapse. In this vein, junta chief arrested his “protégé,” Moe Myint Tun, commerce official, Yan Naung Soe, and deputy commerce minister, Nyunt Aung on corruption allegations. All three were serving on the junta’s Central Committee on Ensuring the Smooth Flow of Trade and Goods, which handles US dollar procurement for commercial transactions and import/export licensing. With similar intentions to deflect blame for skyrocketing commodity prices, the junta also detained its crony, Thein Win Zaw, the owner of Shwe Byain Phyu Co., along with multiple business leaders earlier this month.

Last week, in a parallel move to consolidate its control on foreign currency, the junta-controlled central bank revoked 123 companies’ foreign exchange licenses for failing to comply with junta-imposed bank rules. These rules include a destructively low exchange rate for US dollar trading. This artificially low rate serves the junta’s goal of monopolizing foreign currency flows to fuel its atrocities by driving out companies who engage in foreign exchange. In the same vein, the junta plans to raise the cost of import licenses for gem trading, which will drive some traders out of business while lining the junta’s pockets with gem revenues. Meanwhile, junta bodies are threatening shop owners to sell beer, cigarettes, and other junta-made goods, clearly revealing its spiraling desperation for any sources of cash while proving the effectiveness of the people’s Spring Revolution boycotts of junta products.

Ultimately, what is laid bare by the junta’s tactics are Min Aung Hlaing’s primary concerns of amassing private wealth and funding the junta’s violence, as the forces of the Spring Revolution continue their successful resistance. Even more apparent is the junta’s blatant, greed-driven disregard for the Myanmar economy as it relates to everyday people.

With the rapid depreciation of the Myanmar kyat resulting from strict junta policies, commodity prices have soared, making the purchase of rice, cooking oil, and other necessities a stretch for families throughout the country. Meanwhile, the junta – infuriated by sanctions and attempting to hoard foreign currency as a result – puts lives at further risk, as prices for lifesaving medications, like insulin, skyrocket due to the junta’s manipulation of import permit costs for foreign medicines. The junta’s money grabs also extend to Myanmar workers at home and abroad through new taxes. The junta’s recent 25% salary remittance order only goes to show all its deranged efforts to make the people pay for its war of terror against themselves.

The reality is that every kyat the junta gets in its blood-soaked hands goes directly to its violence against the people or to the pockets of its highest generals. As a result, no meaningful progress can be made towards the alleviation of people’s suffering, justice, federal democracy, and sustainable peace while the international community continues to allow the junta to line its pockets, acquire weapons, and kill civilians. Amidst this economic implosion, we must recognize the critical role of the people’s enduring and united resistance in bringing the illegal junta to its knees in cash-strapped desperation. The strong people’s movement has left the junta flailing for sources of revenue, even turning on its own cronies, to finance its crimes against humanity and war crimes.

As the people’s movement continues its steadfast resistance, the international community, particularly ASEAN and its member states, must do more to cut off the junta’s access to foreign currency. These measures include targeted and coordinated sanctions against the junta’s sources of revenue, particularly the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE); effective enforcement of such sanctions; and all possible measures to prevent the flow of weapons and currency to the military. In this regard, Singapore has taken welcome steps by boycotting ASEAN military exercises attended by the junta, as well as punishing two of its citizens behind the illegal export of a sonar device to the Myanmar military. Going forward, the Singapore Government must take principled steps to foreclose the junta’s access to Singapore’s financial systems, which continue to be a safe haven for junta cashflows and arms. Furthermore, for the United States to maximize the impact of the BURMA Act, the US Government must sanction MOGE without delay, as called for by US lawmakers during a recent congressional hearing. This powerful combination of the people’s movement and targeted international pressure will be what it takes to unequivocally starve the junta of funds and strengthen the Spring Revolution in its earnest pursuit of establishing an inclusive, civilian-led federal democratic Myanmar.


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term ‘Myanmar’ in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of ‘Myanmar’ rather than ‘Burma’ without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten. Thus, under certain circumstances, ‘Burma’ is used.

Resources from the past week


Statements and Press Releases

Open letter: Invitation to junta-controlled Myanmar National Human Rights Commission to the 28th APF Annual General Meeting and Biennial Conference

By CSO Working Group on Independent National Human Rights Institution (Burma/Myanmar)

၂၈ ကြိမ်မြောက် အာရှပစိဖိတ်ဖိုရမ်၏ နှစ်စဥ်အထွေထွေအစည်းအဝေးနှင့် နှစ်နှစ် တစ်ကြိမ်ကျင်းပပြုလုပ်သည့် ညီလာခံသို့ တက်ရောက်ရန် စစ်အုပ်စု၏ လက်အောက်ခံ MNHRC အား ဖိတ်ကြားသည့်ကိစ္စ

By CSO Working Group on Independent National Human Rights Institution (Burma/Myanmar)

The Human Rights Foundation of Monland Condemns Escalating Violence in Southeastern Burma on International Peace Day

By Human Rights Foundation of Monland

Karenni community organizations appeal for urgent humanitarian support for the Karenni IDPs

By Karenni State Interim Executive Council

United Nations General Assembly Rejects Myanmar Junta’s Credentials

By Myanmar Accountability Project



A License to Torture: Short Analysis of the Myanmar Military’s Torture Since the 2021 Coup Attempt

By Equality Myanmar

Urgent Humanitarian Appeal: Armed conflict continues to impact daily life in Karenni State

By Karenni State Interim Executive Council

Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”