Myanmar: the European Parliament calls for further sanctions against the military

On 7 October 2021, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the human rights situation in Myanmar. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) strongly condemned the coup perpetrated by the military on February 1st this year, denounced the widespread human rights violations reported across the country, and called on the EU to take further measures in favour of human rights in Myanmar.

Since the coup, the human rights situation in Myanmar has gravely deteriorated. More than 1,000 civilians have been killed by the military since the coup, while thousands were injured, and over 230,000 mainly ethnic minority people have been displaced. Widespread arbitrary arrests and detentions, with allegations of torture, have also been recorded against human rights defenders, activists, journalists and politicians.

In its resolution, the European Parliament welcomes the previous rounds of sanctions imposed against members of the junta and some of their businesses, but also calls on EU Member States to continue efforts to cut off the lifelines of the military, in order to compel them to “reverse course and provide for a return to democracy”.

To achieve this, the European Parliament urges EU Member States to impose specific sanctions on financial transfers to the two state-owned banks through which all foreign currency is collected – the Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank (MFTB) and the Myanmar Investment and Commercial Bank (MICB). Foreign currency is used by the military regime to finance weapons and equipment used against the civilian population.

Another recommendation made by the European Parliament is to sanction the state-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE). Despite generating the junta’s largest foreign currency flow, the country’s oil and gas sector remains to this day unaffected by the international community’s sanctions. This has allowed foreign oil and gas giants – including Total (France) – to continue operating in Myanmar, and the military to retain access to the sector’s revenue.

For the past few months, FIDH – along with its member organisation ALTSEAN-Burma and other civil society partners – has been advocating for the use of sanctions against the military’s economic interests, in line with FIDH’s long-standing commitment for human rights in Myanmar.

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