US sanctions Myanmar generals’ gem business

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The United States on Thursday imposed additional punitive sanctions targeting the Myanmar junta over its usurpation of the government and its bloody crackdown on those who protest its coup.

The Treasury said in a statement it was sanctioning state-owned Myanma Gems Enterprise, which is responsible for all gemstone activities in the country.

Gemstones are a key economic resource for the military regime, it said.

“Today’s actions highlights Treasury’s commitment to denying the Burmese military sources of funding, including form key state-owned enterprises throughout Burma,” Andrea Gacki, director of the Office of the Foreign Assets Control, said, referring to Myanmar by its older name.

The sanctions, which freeze all property and assets under Myanma Gems Enterprise name while barring U.S. citizens from doing business with it, were imposed under Executive Order 14014 for it being a political instrument of the Myanmar government.

The Treasury said the enterprise, operated under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, is responsible for managing the mining and marketing of jade and other gems.

“By imposing targeted sanctions on this entity, we are sending a clear signal to the military that the United States will keep increasing pressure on the regime’s revenue streams until it ceases its violence, releases all those unjustly detained, lifts martial law and the nationwide state of emergency, removes telecommunications restrictions and restores Burma to the path of democracy,” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement.

The United States has repeatedly imposed targeted punitive sanctions against Myanmar military units, companies and generals in response to their ousting of democratically elected officials to usurp control of the country on Feb. 1.

Since the coup, protests that have raged nationwide in opposition have been confronted with escalating military violence, resulting in hundreds of deaths and arrests, including more than 100 people on March 27.

According to Myanmar’s Assistance for Political Prisoners, at least 614 people have been killed by the state, including 16 in the past two days. More than 2,850 people have also been detained by security forces since the coup, it said.

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