The United States Monday announced sanctions against two more individuals and two entities linked to Myanmar’s military.
In a release from the Treasury Department, the U.S. says the sanctions are a result of the government’s “continued campaign of violence and intimidation against peaceful protesters and civil society.”
There was no immediate comment from the government in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
The military seized power in a February 1 coup, overthrowing the civilian government and detaining de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other high-ranking officials.
“Since then, Burma’s police have engaged in brutal acts of violence against pro-democracy protesters,” the statement said, using another name for Myanmar.
One of those sanctioned is Than Hlaing. According to the Treasury Department statement, he was appointed chief of the police force and deputy home affairs minister on February 2.
“Under Than Hlaing’s leadership, the Burma Police Force has gone from attacking peaceful protesters with water cannons, rubber bullets, and tear gas, to using live ammunition; this escalation culminated in police killing dozens of peaceful protesters all across Burma on March 14, 2021, including 37 in the Rangoon suburb of Hlaingthaya,” according to the statement.
Also sanctioned is Lieutenant General Aung Soe, whom Treasury said is a Bureau of Special Operations commander and reports directly to commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
“Regional commands under Aung Soe’s control have participated in the vicious attacks on peaceful protests,” the Treasury statement said. “These soldiers were armed with weapons meant for the battlefield, not police actions, demonstrating that lethal force is being used in a planned, premeditated, and coordinated manner against the anti-coup protests.”
Military divisions targeted
Additionally, Treasury cited the 33rd Light Infantry Division of Myanmar’s Army and the 77th Light Infantry Division “for being responsible for or complicit in, or for having directly or indirectly engaged or attempted to engage in, actions or policies that prohibit, limit, or penalize the exercise of freedom of expression or assembly by people in Burma.”
Those sanctioned will be blocked from all property and interests in property “that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50% or more by them, individually or with other blocked persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons.”
In February, the U.S. announced sanctions on the military government. Last week, the U.S. placed sanctions on the two adult children of Myanmar military commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing. The Reuters news agency reports generals including Min Aung Hlaing were already under U.S. human rights sanctions over their role in a campaign against the Rohingya Muslim minority that sparked a refugee crisis in 2017.
Claims of election fraud
The United States 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 have 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.