Bipartisan Senate group calls for Biden to impose more sanctions on Myanmar junta

Protesters march in Myanmar
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A bipartisan group of senators is calling on the Biden administration to impose additional sanctions on Myanmar’s military junta over its February takeover of the government.

Six senators, led by Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), pressed Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in a letter Tuesday to “explore new avenues to support the people of Burma in their ongoing struggle for democracy in the face of escalating crimes against humanity.”

“In particular, we urge you to target or freeze all foreign currency revenues and foreign exchange reserves held in state accounts outside of Burma,” they wrote.

The senators are urging the administration to choke off funds to Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), a department within the energy ministry that sends funds to several members of the military, also known as the Tatmadaw, including people who are under personal sanctions from the U.S.

The senators said MOGE collects gas revenue from joint ventures with companies such as Total, Chevron, Posco, PTT and CNP, raking in what the lawmakers estimated to be $1.1 billion each year.

The six senators called for “the joint ventures involving multinational oil and gas companies pay revenue into a trust or protected account which is either held until such time as Burma has a legitimate and democratically-elected government or used for humanitarian purposes.”

“Beyond cutting off revenue to the MOGE, we encourage additional efforts by the Treasury Department to maximize and focus its investigative capacity to identify and block any flow of resources to the Tatmadaw and its network of cronies, while minimizing unintended harm to the people of Burma,” they wrote, using another name for Myanmar.

The White House and Treasury Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Hill, while the State Department said it does not comment on congressional correspondence.

The Biden administration has already levied a slew of sanctions on several Burmese entities, including Myanma Timber Enterprise and Myanmar Pearl Enterprise, two companies that oversee timber and pearl exports from Myanmar, and Myanma Gems Enterprise, a government-owned firm that oversees all gemstone activities in the country. 

U.S. officials have sounded the alarm over the Feb. 1 takeover and the military’s brutal campaign to crack down on subsequent protests. 

More than 3,400 people have been arrested since the protests began, and 755 have been killed, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which has been tracking the developments. 

Tags Antony Blinken Burma Janet Yellen Jeff Merkley Marco Rubio Military of Myanmar Myanma Gems Enterprise Myanma Timber Enterprise Myanmar Myanmar coup myanmar oil and gas enterprise Myanmar Pearl Enterprise Tatmadaw

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