Myanmar protests: Dozens killed in 'blackest day' since coup
05 Mars, 2021, 13:09 | Auteur: Adelaide Bullion
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the coup that ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi from power, with soldiers and police escalating the use of force on the streets to quell nationwide protests.
The US Commerce Department designated trading curbs on Myanmar's Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Home Affairs and two military conglomerates that control swathes of the economy, with interests ranging from beer to real estate. It also said the military was stepping up repression of the media, with a growing number of journalists arrested and charged.
"This action restricts the export and reexport of items subject to the EAR [Export Administration Regulations ] to the Burmese Ministry of Defense and the Burmese Ministry of Home Affairs, the entities responsible for the coup, and to two commercial entities owned and operated by the Ministry of Defense and that provide it revenue", the department said in a news release, using the former name for the country in holding with the U.S. government's refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the present government.
More than 50 civilians, mostly peaceful protesters, are confirmed to have been killed by police and soldiers since the coup.
Activists demanding the restoration of the elected government of veteran democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi held more demonstrations in several towns and cities on Friday, with a crowd of thousands marching peacefully through the second city of Mandalay. Just $5 a month.
"It's up to the member states to take the right measures", she said.
The trade measures follow President Joe Biden's announcement on February 10 that the USA would impose targeted sanctions on leading military commanders and their families. Biden also announced that the USA government had taken steps to prevent the generals from "improperly having access" to $1 billion in Myanmar government funds.
According to a Reuters article published yesterday, the us freeze came after the new military government attempted to move about $1 billion held at the Federal Reserve Bank of NY three days after seizing power. Some countries have already imposed or are considering their own sanctions. As William Reinsch, a former Commerce Department official, told Reuters, "The volume of trade is small so the impact won't be big".
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The two holding companies connected the Myanmar military to almost every sector of the country's economy, from mining and telecoms to beer, cigarettes, and real estate.
"We know that we can always get shot and killed with live bullets but there is no meaning to staying alive under the junta", activist Maung Saungkha told Reuters.
After the military coup in Myanmar on Feb 1, which sought to overturn the landslide victory of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in the November elections, the situation in the country has rapidly deteriorated.
Any kind of co-ordinated action at the United Nations will be hard as two permanent members of the Security Council, China and Russian Federation, are likely to veto it.
Beyond their function as a signaling mechanism, it remains to be seen the extent to which Western economic sanctions will affect the military government's calculations.
The UN special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, said on Wednesday she had warned deputy military chief Soe Win that the army was likely to face strong measures from some countries over the coup.
"The answer was: "We are used to sanctions, and we survived", she told reporters. "When I also warned they will go (into) isolation, the answer was: "We have to learn to walk with only few friends".
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