Conflicts & War

Further sanctions slapped on Myanmar junta as deaths surpass 800

Bangkok/United Nations, May 18 (EFE).- More than 800 people have died during the continuing violent crackdown of Myanmar’s security forces since the military coup on Feb. 1, prompting foreign nations to slap further sanctions on individuals and entities of the country.

According to the latest data from the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners, 802 people have been killed while 5,210 have been detained and arrest warrants have been issued against another 1,699.

Deaths have risen in recent weeks despite General Min Aung Hlaing agreeing to stop violence against civilians during the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held in Jakarta on Apr. 24.

The coup general gave the go-ahead to a statement that also included the commitment to constructive dialog to seek a peaceful solution and the mediation of ASEAN, but a few days after the agreement, he said that violence would stop once the country was stabilized.

In recent days violence has been concentrated in Mindat, northwestern Chin state, where the military and a pro-democracy civilian militia have been fighting.

On Sunday, the army forced the withdrawal of the newly formed civilian militia, the Chinland Defense Force, following a siege against residents with aerial bombardment and heavy artillery fire.

According to local news outlet Myanmar Now, the forces of the military junta seized Mindat on Saturday afternoon and forced the withdrawal of the civilian militia, who retreated from the city of 50,000 inhabitants to avoid further destruction.

Several ethnic armed organizations that have for decades fought for more autonomy or independence have expressed support for the civil disobedience movement against the military junta.

The persistence of violence has prompted the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada to impose new coordinated sanctions against the military.

The US directed its measures against the State Administrative Council as a body as well as four SAC members, nine military-appointed cabinet members, and three adult children of previously designated military officials, who will not be able to access their assets in the US nor to do business with US citizens.

“Our actions today underscore our resolve and that of our partners to apply political and financial pressure on the regime as long as it fails to stop violence and take meaningful action to respect the will of the people,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

Canada indicated that it has imposed additional sanctions on entities and individuals linked to the armed forces, while the UK announced sanctions against the state-owned Myanmar Gems Enterprise, also previously sanctioned by the US.

Meanwhile, the United Nations General Assembly has postponed a meeting that was to be held on Tuesday to vote on a draft resolution calling for an arms embargo on Myanmar, sources from the organization reported.

Some media outlets indicate that a consensus has not been reached among the 193 member countries to achieve approval of the text, which is not legally binding but would carry a strong political message.

In addition to calling for “an immediate suspension of the direct and indirect supply, sale or transfer of all weapons and munitions” to Myanmar, the draft resolution demands that the military stop violence against protesters, respect the result of the last election, and end the state of emergency, among other demands.

The military has justified the coup alleging fraud in the November election, in which ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party repeated its resounding victory of 2015, with international observers giving a clean chit to the polls. EFE


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