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04/08/2021 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – The international community has once again stepped up the pressure on Myanmar’s new military junta for the coup it conducted on February 1, 2021 which deposed a democratically-elected civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi. Many nations have joined in a chorus of condemnation, but some have even gone further by imposing sanction meant to punish and isolate the Burmese military, or Tatmadaw, for its actions.

The Treasury Department announced today that it is sanctioning the Myanma Gems Enterprise, a government-owned entity that provides significant funding to the Tatmadaw. “Today’s action highlights Treasury’s commitment to denying the Burmese military sources of funding,” read the official statement, quoting Andrea Gacki, the Director of the Treasury’s Office of the Foreign Assets Control. “These sanctions are not directed at the people of Burma.”

The move is the latest in a long series of sanctions by countries around the world. Just this week the European Union moved to impose similar sanctions on the Tatmadaw’s business interests abroad, helping to increase the global pressure on them and sending a message of solidarity to Myanmar’s pro-democracy protestors. The Tatmadaw has killed over 500 protestors so far.

Not every country is on board with pressuring the Tatmadaw, though. On Tuesday Russia’s Foreign Ministry claimed, without evidence, that sanctioning the Tatmadaw “pushes the people of Myanmar towards a full-scale civil conflict.” Russia sells arms to the Tatmadaw, which spends over $2 billion USD despite not being engaged in foreign wars—its military actions target its own citizens, many based on their ethnic or religious identity.

China and Japan have also given some support to the Tatmadaw. China vetoed a UN Security Council statement condemning the coup in a show of support for its longtime ally and economic partner. For its part, Japan has seemed hesitant to join the international community in its strong condemnation of the coup, and not only has a close relationship with the Burmese military but has a long history of monetary support for the country as well.

The international community must consider how it can effect real change in Myanmar and what it can do to prevent countries like Russia, China, and Japan from softening the impact of the international community’s attempts to pressure the Tatmadaw. Myanmar’s pro-democracy protestors and religious minorities alike need the concerted support of the international community.

For interviews, please contact Alison Garcia: [email protected].