Myanmar: US hits top justice officials with sanctions

'Time is running out' to stop Myanmar's descent into worse internecine violence, UN envoy says

Ancient temples are silhouetted during sunset in old Bagan, Nyaung U district, central Myanmar. AP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

The US hit three top Myanmar justice officials with sanctions on Monday on the eve of the anniversary of a military coup that Washington says has stifled democracy and the rule of law.

The US Treasury placed sanctions on Attorney General Thida Oo, Supreme Court Chief Justice Tun Tun Oo and Anti-Corruption Commission Chairman Tin Oo, whom it said were closely involved in the “politically motivated” prosecution of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The department also imposed sanctions on several business leaders and companies accused of providing financial support to Myanmar's military regime.

Among those named in the sanctions were Jonathan Myo Kyaw Thaung, chief executive of KT Group and director of KT Group subsidiary KTSL, and Tay Za, owner of “multiple companies known to provide equipment and services, including arms, to the Burmese military".

Htoo Htet Tay Za and Pye Phyo Tay Za, the adult sons of Tay Za, were also named in the sanctions, the Treasury Department said.

“We are co-ordinating these actions with the United Kingdom and Canada to demonstrate the international community's strong support for the people of Burma and to further promote accountability for the coup and the violence perpetrated by the regime,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

“The United States will continue to work with our international partners to address human rights abuses and press the regime to cease the violence, release all those unjustly detained, allow unhindered humanitarian access and restore Burma's path to democracy.”

Britain and Canada are imposing sanctions on two Myanmar government officials, the US Treasury said.

Most of the US sanctions announced on Monday have already been applied by Britain, Burma Campaign UK said.

“There is still a lot more the UK, USA Canada and others can do to cut the supply of money and arms to the military,” said Anna Roberts, the group's executive director.

“More resources need to be given to increasing the pace and scope of targeted sanctions.”

The UN envoy to Myanmar, Noeleen Heyzer, on Monday told journalists that “violence and brutality … has only intensified and widened” since the military seized power on February 1 last year.

She described a “broad-based resistance movement built against the military regime” as all sides resorted to “violence as a solution".

The breakdown of law and order under military rule has led to an “unprecedented level” of drug production and worrying levels of human trafficking, logging and illegal mining, said Ms Heyzer.

There is a “window of opportunity” to ease tension between the country's religious and ethnic groups and stop a further descent into chaos, but “time is running out”, she added.

About 1,500 civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands have been displaced within Myanmar and across its borders since the coup.

UN spokesman Farhan Haq appealed on Monday for a record $826 million for Myanmar, where about 25 million people now live in poverty and more than 14 million need aid and protection.

Agencies contributed to this report.

Updated: February 01, 2022, 5:36 AM