Myanmar: EU’s third round of sanctions raises eyebrows
10 Jun 2021

Questions have been raised over the EU’s exact objectives regarding Myanmar, after its foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, last Thursday said that a third round of sanctions will soon be imposed on the country’s military and economic interests.

Following its February 1 coup, which overthrew the recently reelected civilian government headed by national icon Aung San Suu Kyi, the military is believed to have killed at least 845 people, the majority of whom were civilians who participated in nationwide pro-democracy protests.

The coup has also escalated the country’s seven-decade-old insurgencies, with several ethnic militia groups now cooperating to oppose the junta. The National Unity Government, an underground government composed of opponents of the military junta, including ousted parliamentarians, also recently announced the creation of their own militia, the People’s Defense Force.

As tensions continue to escalate, the majority of foreign powers, including the EU, have publicly backed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc in taking the lead to mediate a resolution to the conflict.

Situation beyond ASEAN’s reach

However, the situation now appears to be beyond the reach of ASEAN, for whom the Myanmar crisis represents its biggest and most difficult test in decades.

The junta’s continued violence and repression go against the five-point consensus it agreed to with ASEAN in April. And Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement now says it doesn’t trust ASEAN’s interlocutors, especially as there appears to be little chance that the bloc can mediate a deal that allows the now-banned National League for Democracy (NLD) to return to power, or even to politics.

Moreover, accusations have been made that the EU is sanctioning the same Myanmar officials that ASEAN may soon confer legitimacy upon, if the bloc’s eventual resolution allows the junta to remain in power until new elections are held, which are likely to be rigged by the military.

The EU first agreed to impose sanctions on several officials in Myanmar’s military junta and its aligned companies in mid-February. But it took several weeks for the measures to be formally adopted.

A second round of sanctions in April targeted a dozen more junta officials, as well as key military-owned conglomerates, Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited and Myanmar Economic Corporation.

Read more at Deutsche Welle

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