April 22, 2021
Myanmar’s thriving timber and pearl industries are sources of funding for the military and its leadership . Romeo Gacad/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
By Glenn Thrush | The New York Times
American officials announced new sanctions on Myanmar in the wake of the recent military coup, targeting two state-owned businesses with connections to the armed forces as part of an escalating international effort to jolt the country back onto a democratic path.
The move on Wednesday came two days after European Union officials expanded their own sanctions against Myanmar’s military leadership, targeting 10 officials who were involved in toppling Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government and a violent crackdown on protesters.
The Treasury Department identified Myanmar Timber Enterprise and Myanmar Pearl Enterprise, representing the country’s thriving timber and pearl industries, as sources of funding for the military and its leadership. The sanctions bar the companies from doing business in the United States or with American companies, and their assets were frozen under Wednesday’s order.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken accused the country’s military of killing more than 650 people — including many children — and detaining more than 3,200 others since February. He suggested the Biden administration would consider further action in the future.
“The Burmese military regime continues to ignore the will of the people of Burma to restore the country’s path to democracy,” Mr. Blinken said in a statement.
“Our action today reinforces our message to the military that the United States will continue to target specific funding channels and promote accountability for the coup and related violence,” he added.
The E.U. has also frozen assets and imposed visa bans on two other companies: Myanmar Economic Corporation and Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd, which trade in alcohol and other consumer goods.
Many opponents of the coup have resisted the military, at times taking to the streets with homemade weapons, including slingshots. On March 27, security forces killed dozens of people. It was the deadliest crackdown since the start of the coup, according to a human rights group tracking the killings.