Myanmar coup: Nations that have imposed sanctions against its military junta

Myanmar military commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (left) sit for a group photo in Myanmar, on May 24, 2017.
Myanmar military commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (left) sit for a group photo in Myanmar, on May 24, 2017.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS (REUTERS) - Leaders from Washington to Singapore have condemned the military coup in Myanmar, urging generals to halt a crackdown on demonstrators, release detainees including civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and restore the elected government.

Some countries have followed up with targeted financial sanctions in hopes of putting the squeeze on the generals who staged the Feb 1 coup and convince them to change course.

Here is a snapshot of actions around the globe.

United States

President Joe Biden issued an executive order on Feb 11 paving the way for new sanctions against the Myanmar military and its interests.

The order froze about US$1 billion (S$1.34 billion) in reserves Myanmar's central bank was holding at the New York Fed, which the junta had attempted to withdraw after seizing power.

Some generals, including Commander in Chief Min Aung Hlaing, were already under US human rights sanctions over their role in a campaign against the Rohingya Muslim minority that sparked a refugee crisis in 2017.

US Treasury sanctions last month targeted 12 Myanmar officers involved in the coup, along with some military companies involved in the gemstone industry, freezing any US assets they hold and barring Americans from dealing with them.

Min Aung Hlaing's children and companies they control were later hit with the same sanctions.

On Monday (March 22), the Treasury added Myanmar's police chief and a military commander to the sanctions, along with two military units it said were involved in repressing demonstrations.

Four military-controlled ministries and conglomerates were placed under sanctions by the US Commerce Department on March 4. Those measures require US suppliers to seek difficult-to-obtain licences to export goods to the ministries of defence and home affairs, and to military conglomerates Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC).

European Union

EU foreign ministers adopted travel bans and asset freezes against 11 individuals linked to the coup on Monday.

Among the individuals affected are Min Aung Hlaing and Myint Swe, who has been acting president since the coup.

EU diplomats have told Reuters the bloc is likely to toughen its response soon by barring EU investors and banks from doing business with parts of MEHL and MEC, which generate revenue for the military.

The bloc has an arms embargo on Myanmar and has targeted some senior military officials since 2018.

United Nations

Action against the junta by the United Nations has been stifled by Russia and China, who hold vetoes over the Security Council votes needed to impose UN sanctions or arms embargoes.

The two countries shielded Myanmar from any strong council action over the 2017 Rohingya crisis and argue that Myanmar's political situation is an internal matter.

The 15-member Security Council has issued two statements expressing concern and condemning violence against protesters, but dropped language condemning the army takeover as a coup and threatening possible further action due to opposition by China, Russia, India and Vietnam.

Negotiations on the statements - issued in February and March - signalled that the council could struggle to do much more on Myanmar.

Other nations

New Zealand announced a week after the coup that it was suspending high-level contacts with Myanmar and imposing a travel ban on military leaders.

Britain and Canada imposed their own sanctions on Feb 13.

Britain said it would impose asset freezes and travel bans on three generals while Canada blacklisted nine military officials.

Britain has also taken measures to prevent British aid indirectly helping the junta.

Australia on March 7 said it was suspending its limited cooperation with the Myanmar military and would redirect aid bound for the government to aid groups.

Aside from sanctions, some overseas firms and investors who had business links with Myanmar's military, like Japan's Kirin Holdings Co, have cut those ties.