Myanmar

EU sanctions Myanmar's military chiefs over deadly crackdown

Women hold signs in a motorcycle procession against the ongoing coup, from Nyinmaw to Tizit, Myanmar March 17, 2021 in this still image obtained from social media video.
Women hold signs in a motorcycle procession against the ongoing coup, from Nyinmaw to Tizit, Myanmar March 17, 2021 in this still image obtained from social media video. DAWEI WATCH via REUTERS - DAWEI WATCH

The European Union on Monday approved sanctions against 11 officials linked to last month's military coup in Myanmar, which was followed by a deadly crackdown on protesters.

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Among those targeted was junta chief Min Aung Hlaing, who was hit with an assets freeze and travel ban, and Deputy-Commander-in-Chief, Soe Win.

The move followed a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

"Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing has been directly involved in and responsible for decision-making concerning state functions and is therefore responsible for undermining democracy and the rule of law," the EU’s official journal said.

At least 250 people have been killed in protests against the military junta. Monday’s sanctions are the EU’s strongest response so far. 

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the number of "murders" in Myanmar had reached an “unbearable” level, and the EU could not avoid imposing sanctions.

"We don't intend to punish the people of Myanmar but those who blatantly violate human rights," he said.

In a statement, the EU said it would continue to review all of its policy options, including “additional restrictive measures against economic entities owned or controlled by the military”.

Myanmar’s military junta claims elections last November – won in a landslide by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party – were tainted by fraud, and its troops have prevented the parliament from convening.

Internet access in the country has been severely restricted amid a widespread clampdown on the media and politicians.

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