February 28, 2024

Myanmar’s military checkpoint can be seen en route to the convention site in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on February 1, 2021.

Stringer | Reuters

The Treasury Department has imposed new sanctions on holding companies that provide financial support to the Myanmar military.

The sanctions come after increased efforts by the Myanmar military to isolate its citizens and suppress their desire to protest last month’s coup that overthrew the democratically elected government and arrested its leaders.

The sanctioned companies Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd. and Myanmar Economic Corporation Ltd. support the military in various ways.

Pursuant to Executive Order 14014, “all assets and ownership interests of the above companies (MEH, MEC) that are located in the United States or are owned or controlled by US persons are frozen”, essentially all related transactions with the company prohibits the aforementioned companies.

Myanmar Economic Holdings (MEH) has business interests ranging from banking, construction and mining to agriculture, tobacco and food. The Treasury Department said that “MEH’s shareholder data shows that profits are systematically distributed to the Burmese military, including those responsible for widespread human rights abuses.”

Myanmar Economic Corporation Ltd. (MEC) has business relationships with the telecommunications sector “as well as with companies that provide the military with natural resources and operate factories that manufacture goods for the military,” the same press release said.

The US is co-imposing the latest sanctions with the UK, which is expected to announce similar measures against MEH on Thursday, the State Department said in a memo.

“These sanctions specifically target the economic resources of the Burmese military regime, which is responsible for the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Burma and the continued oppression of the Burmese people,” the memo said.

Leaders from the US, India, Australia and Japan, among others, have vowed to restore democracy in Myanmar. The US has also urged China to use its influence over Myanmar to force the military to restore civilian rule.