US Hits Myanmar’s Gem Industry with Sanctions

The U.S. has imposed sanctions on one of Myanmar’s biggest industries, gemstones, according to a Department of Treasury news release.

Specifically, the U.S. is targeting Myanma Gems Enterprise (MGE), a state-owned business “responsible for all gemstone activities in Burma.” Gemstones, according to Treasury, “are a key economic resource for the Burmese military regime.”

“Today’s action highlights Treasury’s commitment to denying the Burmese military sources of funding, including from key state-owned enterprises throughout Burma,” said Andrea Gacki, Director of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Myanmar is also known as Burma.

The company will be blocked from all property and interests in property “that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50% or more by them, individually or with other blocked persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons.”

The military seized power in a February 1 coup, overthrowing the civilian government and detaining de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other high-ranking officials.

Since the coup, widespread protests have rocked Myanmar, many of them turning violent as government officials cracked down. Nearly 600 civilians, including dozens of children, have been killed by government troops and police since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Of the 3,500 people who have been arrested, 2,750 are still detained, AAPP said.

The U.S has already imposed sanctions on military leaders, some of their family members and other businesses in the country.

It has called for the immediate release of Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy Party, ousted President Win Myint, and protesters, journalists and human rights activists it says have been unjustly detained since the coup.

Military officials claimed widespread fraud in last November’s general election, which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won in a landslide, as justification for the February takeover. The fraud allegations have been denied by Myanmar’s electoral commission.

 

Source: Voice of America