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US slaps additional sanctions on Myanmar over coup

US slaps additional sanctions on Myanmar over coup
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The Biden administration slapped additional sanctions on Myanmar on Thursday over the military junta’s February coup. 

The Treasury Department said in a statement that its Office of Foreign Assets Control is instituting penalties on Myanma Gems Enterprise (MGE), a government-owned firm that oversees all gemstone activities in the country, a lucrative industry that helps fund the military regime.

“Today’s action highlights Treasury’s commitment to denying the Burmese military sources of funding, including from key state-owned enterprises throughout Burma,” said Andrea Gacki, director of the Office of the Foreign Assets Control, using another name for the country. “The United States will continue to work tirelessly, including with partners throughout the region and the world, to support the restoration of democracy and rule of law in Burma and to bring accountability to those who seek to undermine these values.”

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MGE’s property and other assets in the U.S. are blocked and must be reported to the Treasury Department as a result of the sanctions. Americans are also now prohibited from doing business with MGE. 

The U.S. has already sanctioned generals who participated in the coup, as well as some of their family members.

The new round of sanctions targets a key part of the military’s coffers given that the country is the world's main source of jade and a top producer of rubies and other sought-after gems. 

It is the latest effort to penalize Myanmar over its Feb. 1 coup in which the junta overthrew the civilian-led government headed by Aung San Suu Kyi. More than 2,800 people have been arrested since the protests began, and more than 600 have been killed, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which has been tracking the developments in the country. 

“The Burmese military regime has ignored the will of the people of Burma to restore the country’s path toward democracy and has continued to commit lethal attacks against protesters in addition to random attacks on bystanders,” Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenBiden 'confident' meeting with Putin will take place soon Blinken calls for Taiwan to join World Health Assembly in opposition to China US general warns China is actively seeking to set up an Atlantic naval base MORE said in a statement.

“By imposing targeted sanctions on this entity, we are sending a clear signal to the military that the United States will keep increasing pressure on the regime’s revenue streams until it ceases its violence, releases all those unjustly detained, lifts martial law and the nationwide state of emergency, removes telecommunications restrictions, and restores Burma to the path of democracy,” he said.