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Unions and human rights groups call for targeted sanctions against Myanmar

Human rights advocates and union leaders have urged the Australian government to impose targeted sanctions against Myanmar’s military leaders as the first anniversary of the coup looms.

A letter to the foreign minister, Marise Payne, also calls for sanctions or other economic measures to stop funds from Myanmar’s oil and gas sector, the junta’s single largest source of foreign currency revenue, amid concerns about the deadly campaign against anti-junta protesters.

The letter – signed by six groups including Human Rights Watch, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian Council for International Development – says sanctions will be most effective when countries take a coordinated and unified approach:

By joining with other countries that have imposed targeted sanctions, the Australian government would send a strong message to abusive leaders in Myanmar and around the world that there are far-reaching consequences for their actions. Many people in Myanmar are risking their lives to challenge military rule. The Australian government should unequivocally stand by them and heed their calls to help deprive the military of its revenue sources, joining other governments to maximise pressure on Myanmar’s junta to end its campaign of terror against the Myanmar people.

The letter says the Australian government should move swiftly to sanction individuals including the commander-in-chief, Min Aung Hlaing, and also state enterprises and industries currently under military control and military business conglomerates. It also encourages the Australian government to determine whether there are other junta officials and military personnel “implicated in abuses since the coup who have assets or who travel to Australia, and immediately impose sanctions on them”.

The letter – released just days before the anniversary of the 1 February military coup – was also signed by the Australian Centre for International Justice, the Refugee Council of Australia and Publish What You Pay. It comes after Australia’s Woodside Petroleum announced it was following multinational energy groups Chevron and Total in exiting Myanmar.

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