US includes Myanmar ministries, army conglomerates to trade blacklist

Washington: As the pro-democracy protests in Myanmar continue to intensify despite the crackdown by the junta, the United States Commerce Department has included the Myanmar Defense Ministry, Home Affairs Ministry and the conglomerate companies MEC (Myanmar Economic Corporation) and MEHL (Myanma Economic Holdings Public Company) in its trade blacklist.

The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has also added to the Entity List four entities — two Burmese military and security services entities responsible for the coup and two commercial entities that are owned and operated by one of those entities.

“The BIS has added the Burmese Ministries of Defence and Home Affairs, the Myanmar Economic Corporation, and the Myanmar Economic Holding Limited to the Entity List. This action restricts the export and re-export of items subject to the EAR to the Burmese Ministry of Defence and the Burmese Ministry of Home Affairs, the entities responsible for the coup, and to two commercial entities owned and operated by the Ministry of Defence and that provide it revenue,” the statement said.

Military fired upon pro-democracy protesters

This comes a day after the military fired upon the pro-democracy protesters, thus killing 38 people.

“The United States remains fully committed to the people of Burma and strongly condemns violence by the Burmese military against peaceful protesters. We will not allow the Burmese military to continue to benefit from access to items subject to the EAR. Commerce is reviewing potential additional measures as warranted by the military’s actions. The US government will continue to hold perpetrators of the coup responsible for their actions,” the Commerce Department said in its statement.

Condemning Wednesday’s firing on the pro-democracy protesters by the Myanmar military, UN Special Envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener has said that it was the “bloodiest day” since the February 1 coup.

“Today was the bloodiest day since the coup happened on the first of February. Only today, 38 people died…Now, more than 50 people died since the coup started,” Schraner Burgener said during a press briefing.

Affect stability of the region

She further said that the incidents in Myanmar are not an internal affair as they affect the stability of the region.

“We know that ethnic armed organisations are determined not to allow this to continue. They also said that they’d suspend the dialogue with the Tatmadaw [Myanmar military]. If both sides start to use violence, then we have a situation of a real war in Myanmar,” she added.

The demonstration against the Myanmar Army, which ousted the democratically elected government of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, has entered its fourth week.

Security forces have begun a violent crackdown on protestors in towns and cities across the country.

At least 18 people were killed and more than 30 injured in Myanmar on Sunday, as police and military forces “confronted peaceful demonstrations,” the UN Human Rights Office said.

The reported casualties marked Sunday as the deadliest day since the military seized power on February 1.

Despite increasing international pressure to restore the democratically-elected government, the Myanmar junta have ignored the condemnation and has continued to violently suppress the protests against its unlawful takeover of the country. Several ousted lawmakers have even designated the military as a terrorist organisation.

On Saturday, Myanmar’s military has fired the country’s United Nations Ambassador after he appealed to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) for international help to overturn the coup.

Charges against Kyi

Moreover, Myanmar’s ousted civilian leader Kyi, who was detained following the coup, said that two more charges have been added to those filed against her since the coup.

Hundreds of people have been arrested since the coup, according to activists, the latest a journalist for the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), who live-streamed security forces outside his apartment on Monday in the coastal town of Myeik, where he had been filming protests. DVB confirmed the arrest, Bangkok Post reported.

The military coup of February 1 halted Myanmar’s tentative steps towards democracy after nearly 50 years of military rule and has drawn condemnation and sanctions from the United States and other Western countries, and growing concern among its neighbours.

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