Burma Campaign UK today welcomed new UK sanctions targeting three individuals involved in the Shwe Kokko project in Karen State, Burma.
Zhijiang She, Oo Saw Min Min and Saw Chit Thu have been sanctioned for human trafficking, forced labour and human rights violations.
Burma Campaign UK has been documenting human rights violations by soldiers under the command of Chit Thu for decades, including recruitment of child soldiers, executions of civilians, torture, forced labour, and arbitrary and indiscriminate attacks on civilians as they fought side by side with the Burmese military. In his past capacity as the leader of the DKBA and now at the Border Guard Force, which is under the ultimate control of the Burmese military, Chit Thu has also been involved in drugs, extortion, human trafficking, and corrupt business deals.
Burma Campaign UK first requested the British government sanction Chit Thu, the DKBA and associates in the 2000s, because of their involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity. We made the request again following the publication of Gambling Away Our Land, published by the Karen Peace Support Network, in 2020.
“Chit Thu belongs in jail and these sanctions should act as a stepping stone towards holding him to account for decades of human rights violations by soldiers under his command”, said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “These sanctions are a victory for the Karen civil society organisations such as members of the Karen Peace Support Network, who took great risks to try to warn about the dangers presented by Shwe Kokko.”
Burma Campaign UK welcomes these sanctions coming so soon after the last round of sanctions on 31st October 2023. Burma Campaign UK has been calling on the British government to step up the pace of sanctions. The British government should now focus on sanctioning entities, which has a bigger impact on the military as an institution. New sanctions should be imposed on Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, mining enterprises, and state-owned banks facilitating revenue to the military. Sanctions which prevent aviation fuel reaching the Burmese military must also be prioritised.