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Human Rights Watch Calls For Foreign Currency Sanctions Against Burmese Army For ‘Oppressive Regime’

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Myanmar’s military will continue to receive massive revenues from natural gas and other extractive sectors unless new targeted sanctions block foreign currency payments supporting the junta’s abusive regime on Tuesday. . “After nearly a year in power, Myanmar’s junta continues to commit horrific abuses without facing significant costs from the international community,” said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, stressing that the leaders of the junta will not turn away from “their brutality and oppression” unless governments impose greater financial pressure on them.

Two energy companies, TotalEnergies and Chevron, announced plans to leave Myanmar on Friday, but natural gas revenues for the junta will continue as other companies resume operations, HRW said on Tuesday. The United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Japan and other concerned governments should now adopt a common position to impose sanctions on all natural gas revenues. Thailand’s state-owned PTT and South Korea’s POSCO, the two main energy companies remaining in Myanmar, are expected to signal support for such measures.

Natural gas projects in Myanmar generate more than $1 billion in foreign revenue each year for the junta, its main source of foreign exchange earnings. The money is passed in US dollars to the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) and other military-controlled bank accounts in foreign countries in the form of fees, taxes, royalties and revenue from the export of natural gas, most of which travels by pipeline to Thailand or China, according to HRW. TotalEnergies announced on Friday that the company was withdrawing from Myanmar due to the deteriorating human rights situation, which “no longer allows TotalEnergies to make a sufficiently positive contribution in the country”.

TotalEnergies, in partnership with Chevron and PTT, has been operating the Yadana gas project, one of the largest fields in the country, since the 1990s. Chevron sent a brief statement to reporters the same day, saying it was making “a planned and orderly transition that will lead to an exit from the country,” according to HRW. “The departures of energy companies from Myanmar will only be gestures as long as the junta continues to make money,” Sifton said. “The US and EU must urgently impose measures that will have a real economic impact on the junta, if there is to be progress on human rights.” (ANI)

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