US Enforces Fresh Sanctions on Myanmar Junta and its Cronies

By The Irrawaddy 1 February 2022

A year after Myanmar’s coup, the US, UK and Canada have imposed sanctions on three junta appointees while Washington is targeting four businessmen who are supporting the regime and two organizations providing arms and equipment.

US President Joe Biden also pledged continuous support to the anti-regime movement and urged the regime to “reverse course” and release all those unjustly detained, including State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint.

Biden said: “To the people of Burma: we have not forgotten your struggle. And we will continue to support your valiant determination to bring democracy and the rule of law to your country.”

Since the February 1 coup, Biden has threatened sanctions against generals and imposed sanctions on junta leaders and their associates.

“As long as the regime continues to deny the people of Burma their democratic voice, we will continue to impose further costs on the military and its supporters,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Tun Tun Oo, Union Attorney General Thida Oo and Anti-Corruption Commission chairman Tin Oo were named in the latest sanctions from the US, UK and Canada “for their role in enabling the regime to undermine the rule of law and Burma’s democratic institutions”.

The US sanctions were imposed on the military’s Directorate of Procurement, businessman Tay Za and his sons, Htoo Htet Tay Za and Nye Phyo Tay Za, and businessman Jonathan Myo Kyaw Thaung and his firm, KT Services and Logistics Company Limited.

The Directorate of Procurement of the Commander-In-Chief of the Defense Services is responsible for the purchase of arms and equipment for the military.

Tay Za owns multiple companies known to supply the military and he joined the junta’s delegation to Russia for weapons procurement last year. He has been on the UK’s sanctions list since September 2021. His sons are senior figures within businesses closely associated with Tay Za.

Jonathan Myo Kyaw Thaung is CEO of KT Services, which has operated the TMT Port in Yangon since 2016. It leases the port from the military-owned Myanma Economic Holdings Limited for US$3 million (5.3 billion kyats) per year, which was added to the sanctions list on March 25 last year.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement: “The sanctions show the international community’s strong support for Myanmar people, to further promote accountability for the coup and regime’s violence.”

On December 10, the US Treasury Department said the US, UK and Canada had issued sanctions against junta figures linked to serious human rights abuses and firms providing weapons and ammunition used to kill civilians.

Among those targeted was Myo Swe Win, chief minister of Bago Region, where junta forces killed at least 82 people during a crackdown on anti-regime protesters in Bago on April 9.

Biden added: “We condemn these outrages and we are working closely with our partners and allies, including in ASEAN, to hold accountable all those responsible for the coup and attacks on civilians.”

The US says it supports the five-point consensus agreed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in April to end military rule.

Washington has also backed the UN Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar in promoting accountability for rights violations, including the military’s killing of at least 35 people, whose charred bodies were found in Hpruso Township, Kayah State, on December 24.

On Tuesday, the European Union’s high representative and nine foreign countries, including the US, called on the international community “to support efforts to promote justice for the people of Myanmar; to hold those responsible for human rights violations and abuses accountable; to cease the sale and transfer of arms, materiel, dual-use equipment, and technical assistance to the military and its representatives”.

The EU and several countries called for humanitarian assistance to continue to reach more than 400,000 people who have been affected by fighting and need aid.

The regime faces continued strikes, flash mob protests, urban guerrilla attacks and armed resistance throughout the country.

The junta continues to arbitrarily kill civilians, burn people alive, use civilians as human shields, bombard residential areas, loot and burn houses and commit acts of sexual violence, especially in Sagaing and Magwe regions and Karen, Chin, Shan and Kayah states.

It has killed at least 1,503 civilians and detained nearly 12,000, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Win Myint, who were detained during the coup and face trumped-up charges.

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