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The US Treasury announced on July 2 that it’s bringing sanctions against 22 individuals connected to Myanmar’s military regime, which has continued its violent crackdown on those protesting against its rule. This round of sanctions targets seven individuals who hold senior positions within Myanmar’s military-led government and 15 family members of senior military officials that the US had previously sanctioned in February.
The timing of these sanctions was coordinated with the US Department of Commerce, which also announced restrictions on four businesses. The department added Wanbao Mining and two of its subsidiaries — Myanmar Wanbao Mining Copper Ltd. and Myanmar Yang Tse Copper Ltd. — to its Entity List, citing their connection to the military and alleged human and labor rights violations. King Royal Technologies, a telecommunications company that the US said provides support to the military regime, was also singled out. These restrictions impose additional license requirements for exporting, re-exporting, or transferring items in-county to the entities on the list.
While not officially coordinated, the US sanctions complement those imposed by the EU on June 21, which targeted Myanmar’s attorney general, ministers, and deputy ministers. Switzerland followed the EU’s lead on July 1, announcing that it was designating those same individuals under its own sanctions regime. It is a multilateral response — from many in the Western world, at least. Other Western nations, including the UK and Canada, have condemned the military’s actions and have swiftly issued sanctions as well.
It’s particularly notable, however, that Australia has stayed relatively silent since the military coup occurred on February 1. The country has taken small steps to limit its involvement with the regime, including pausing its defense cooperation program with Myanmar and redirecting the flow of development assistance funds to go through the UN. But no new sanctions have been applied. Instead, Australia has merely maintained previous designations — ones it imposed back in 2018 after the UN alleged that several military officers committed human rights abuses against Rohingya Muslims. Further, those sanctions do not apply to the head of the military, Min Aung Hlaing, who led the coup earlier this year.
Australia isn’t alone in refraining from punitive action either. Other countries in the region have also had a carefully measured response to the situation. The Association of Southeast Nations, for example, issued a statement in April affirming that it was deeply concerned about “the situation in the county, including reports of fatalities and escalation of violence” and that it encouraged “constructive dialogue” and a “peaceful solution.” Yet, diplomatic talks mediated by the body have gone nowhere. And with China and Russia seemingly supportive of the military regime, it’s clear this situation is far from a peaceful resolution — and additional sanctions, whether imposed by the US, the EU, or other Western nations, are increasingly likely.
Originally published July 8, 2021, updated November 19, 2021
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