The United States has imposed sanctions on the Myanmar state-owned Myanma Timber Enterprise and Myanmar Pearl Enterprise to further pressure the military government, which seized power in a February coup.
“The Burmese military derives significant funding from state-owned enterprises in the natural resources market. Today’s action demonstrates the United States’ commitment to targeting this specific funding channel and promoting accountability for those responsible for the coup and ongoing violence,” said Andrea Gacki, director of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
There was no immediate response from the government in Myanmar, also known as Burma..
According to a news release, Myanma Timber Enterprise “is responsible for the production and export of timber on behalf of the Burmese military regime” and a “key generator of government revenue,” the Treasury Department said.
Myanmar Pearl Enterprise “is responsible for oyster fishing and collecting, artificial breeding of oysters, culturing and harvesting pearl, and selling pearl” and “is a key generator of government revenue,” the release said.
The military took power February 1, overthrowing the civilian government and detaining de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other high-ranking officials.
Since the coup, widespread protests have rocked Myanmar, many of them turning violent as government officials cracked down. Hundreds of civilians, including dozens of children, have been killed by government troops and police since the coup.
The U.S has already sanctioned military leaders, some of their family members and other businesses in the country. Earlier this month, the U.S. sanctioned Myanma Gems Enterprise (MGE), calling it a state-owned business “responsible for all gemstone activities in Burma.”
The U.S. has called for the immediate release of Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy Party, ousted President Win Myint, and protesters, journalists and human rights activists it says have been unjustly detained since the coup.
Military officials claimed widespread fraud in last November’s general election, which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won in a landslide, as justification for the February takeover. The fraud allegations have been denied by Myanmar’s electoral commission.