The latest round of EU sanctions imposed on the Myanmar junta were welcomed by advocacy groups monitoring human rights violations in the Southeast Asian country.
Yadanar Maung, spokesperson for the human rights advocacy group Justice for Myanmar, said in a statement to VOA on Thursday that the sanctions were “important in catching up with sanctions already imposed by the U.S., U.K. and Canada on arms brokers and units of the military responsible for supplying and manufacturing arms.”
In a statement released Monday, Burma Campaign UK said, “This round of sanctions is well targeted, focusing on suppliers of aviation fuel, arms brokers, military procurement entities and members of the Burmese [Myanmar] military and associated bodies.”
This sixth round of EU sanctions imposed on the junta Monday includes nine individuals and seven entities the EU says have contributed to escalating violence and human rights violations in Myanmar.
According to Justice for Myanmar, or JFM, arms brokers targeted in the latest round of sanctions include Aung Hlaing Oo, Sit Taing Aung and Kyaw Min Oo, along with the companies Dynasty International, International Gateways Group and Sky Aviator Company Limited.
JFM’s statement highlights how these Myanmar arms brokers and companies are linked to companies in the EU. For instance, “Aung Hlaing Oo and Dynasty International both have business with EU companies, and future activities will be prevented through these sanctions.”
It added, “Dynasty International brokered the supply and maintenance of G120TP aircraft from the German corporation Grob Aircraft SE.” However, “the German government stated they are not aware of the sale of Grob G120TP aircraft to the Myanmar air force,” JFM said in its statement.
The new EU sanctions also apply to an aviation fuel supplier, Asia Sun Group, which brokers the supply of jet fuel to the junta. This company “stands complicit in its [the junta’s] international crimes,” the statement reads. “This will help disrupt the supply of jet fuel to the junta, which it needs for its continued indiscriminate airstrikes.”
Additionally, JFM said, the “new designations fill major gaps in the EU’s sanctions regime, targeting key arms brokers and military institutions.”
The EU has restrictive measures on 93 individuals and 18 entities. Those who are sanctioned are subject to an asset freeze and a travel ban in EU territory.
The EU announced its first round of sanctions in March 2021, after the military coup in February of the same year that ousted the democratically elected government of de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and sparked global outrage. Further targeted sanctions followed, with two rounds in 2021, and two more in 2022.
“These sanctions will take time to have an impact, which is why we need the EU to speed up the implementation of sanctions — two rounds a year is not enough,” Mark Farmaner, executive director of Burma Campaign UK, told VOA.
Additionally, “monitoring and implementation of EU sanctions is up to individual EU member states,” Farmaner said. “There is no transparency about how they monitor sanctions or action taken regarding breaches of sanctions.”
According to the statement by JFM, “the junta’s response to mass resistance has been the continued commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity, murdering over 3,000 people, arbitrarily arresting over 19,000 more, displacing 1.1 million people and carrying out indiscriminate attacks across Myanmar, enabled by the supply of funds, arms and jet fuel.”
JFM’s Maung told VOA that “the EU, U.K., U.S., Canada and Australia need to coordinate better and speed up the pace of their sanctions designations to have a meaningful impact to cut the junta’s access to arms and funds.”
Three military arms procurement bodies, which have been sanctioned by the U.S., Britain and Canada in December 2021, also were placed under the latest EU sanctions.
These bodies were the Myanmar Office of the Quarter Master General, the Myanmar Directorate of Defense Industries and the Myanmar Directorate of Defense Procurement.
“The EU has taken the important step of sanctioning the crony conglomerate IGE [the International Group of Entrepreneurs Co. Ltd.] in 2022, but the impact of this is reduced because the EU did not also sanction Ne Aung [the owner of the IGE] and his partners, while the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia have not sanctioned IGE at all. More action is urgently needed,” said Maung.
Ne Aung’s brother, the commander of the Myanmar navy, Moe Aung, was included in the latest round of the EU sanctions. Their father, Aung Thaung, now deceased, was sanctioned by the U.S. in 2014 for “perpetuating violence, oppression and corruption.”
Other individuals listed in the latest round of EU sanctions were Maung Maung Aye, chief of general staff for the Myanmar army, navy, and air force; Myo Myint Aung, Yangon region economic minister of the State Administration Council; Zin Min Htet, deputy minister for home affairs and chief of the Myanmar police force; Ko Ko Maung, regional military commander in Kachin state; and Myo Myint Oo, union minister for energy.
The Myanmar junta has not yet made any comments regarding the EU sanctions.