Myanmar: European Parliament urges Member States to refrain from implementing oil and gas sanctions derogation

On 10 March 2022, the European Parliament adopted an urgency resolution on the situation in Myanmar one year after the coup of 1 February 2021 which marked the beginning of a drastic deterioration of the human rights situation in the country.

In the year that followed the coup, FIDH’s member organisation ALTSEAN-Burma counted 8647 armed clashes and attacks on civilians, a 762% increase from the previous year.

The junta’s widespread and systematic atrocity crimes increased over times, with troops destroying and blocking humanitarian aid, shelling and conducting airstrikes on towns, burning civilians alive, committing rape and perfidy, and destroying hundreds of homes. The military also arrested at least 11838 civilians, tortured hundreds of detainees, and killed 2610 as a result of coup-related violence. Meanwhile, the junta jailed at least 649 opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) members, 14 of which died in detention.

In response to this situation, the EU adopted several rounds of sanctions against individuals and entities for their involvement in serious human rights violations in Myanmar. The latest round of February 2022 added MOGE (Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise), a state-owned enterprise that has fallen under the control of the military since the coup, as one of the listed entities—following a long-standing recommendation by civil society. While these sanctions are welcome, FIDH is alarmed by the inclusion in the sanctions regime of a derogation (exemption) which explicitly allows EU oil and gas operators remaining in Myanmar to pursue financial transactions with MOGE.

In its resolution, the European Parliament called on the EU Council to “reverse the derogation”, and on EU Member States to “refrain from implementing the derogation” (paragraph 18).

The EU’s decision to freeze economic and financial flows to MOGE could have been a critical chance for the EU, its member states and its business sector to uphold their international human rights obligations. If implemented, this derogation would be a huge missed opportunity to effectively act to put an end to the violence unleashed by the junta.

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