May 26, 2023, Washington, D.C.–This week, the United States, Canada, European Union, and the United Kingdom convened a high-level meeting to strengthen their coordination of sanctions in response to the Myanmar military coup that has resulted in more than 3,576 deaths and 22,715 arbitrary detentions of civilians and democracy activists.

EarthRights International Director of Strategy and Campaigns Keith Slack released the following statement: 

“EarthRights recognizes and appreciates the continued efforts of the United States, Canada, European Union, and United Kingdom to leverage their combined influence to end the brutal military coup in Myanmar. Since the coup began over two years ago, Myanmar civil society and the pro-democracy movement have repeatedly asked these governments to use sanctions to cut off the military’s largest sources of revenues. We see this week’s meeting as a recognition that the United States and its allies can do more. It takes place six weeks after the worst single atrocity since the coup began when, on 11 April 2023, a junta airstrike targeted the opening of an office of Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG), killing an estimated 165 people, including 19 children. 

“Analysis by EarthRights and Global Witness released in February identified numerous gaps in the international community’s current approach to sanctions in Myanmar. The report highlights several untapped opportunities to use targeted sanctions to ramp up pressure on the military junta. In particular, we urge the United States to join the EU in sanctioning the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), the military’s largest source of foreign currency. Since the coup began, the military has seized an estimated $3 billion in MOGE revenues. The American company Chevron and French company TotalEnergies have been complicit in allowing the military to access these funds. Chevron has even sold aviation fuel that has been shipped into Myanmar and can be used for junta airstrikes. Now the Canadian company MTI Energy plans to go into business with Thai company PTTEP and take over where Chevron and Total have left off.

 “The U.S. government must stop standing on the sidelines while reckless fossil fuel companies oppose sanctions and continue to prioritize profits over people’s lives. We urge the United States and its allies to quickly plug the holes in its current sanctions regime, pursue strong public enforcement actions, and send a clear message that there will be consequences for doing business with the junta.”

Kate Fried
(202) 257.0057