Myanmar activists press US to sanction regime’s oil and gas sector


Protesters call on the United States to impose sanctions on Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise in Japan on May 8. /Blood Money Campaign

By The Irrawaddy May 11, 2022

Activists are urging US President Joe Biden to impose sanctions on Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), which provides a financial lifeline to the Burmese junta. The European Union imposed sanctions on the company in February.

More than 637 national organizations, including protest committees, unions, women’s rights and education groups and more than 220,000 people have signed an open letter to Biden, according to the Blood Money Campaign (BMC), who is pushing to financially isolate the junta.

The BMC called on Biden to listen to the Burmese people and sanction the MOGE.

“In the United States, it’s time to stop protecting democracy only with words,” said Ko Ye, a BMC spokesperson.

The group reported that the junta seized about $1.5 billion in gas revenue from state bank accounts after the 2021 coup to fund genocide and murder.

“We are not asking the United States to provide weapons. We only ask the United States to stop paying the fascist regime for natural resources,” Ko Ye said.

MOGE has been a lifeline for military governments for decades and about 50% of foreign exchange came from natural gas and Myanmar earned about $1.5 billion from oil and gas in fiscal year 2020 -21, according to pre-coup forecasts.

The campaign has urged the Biden administration to stop gas revenues from reaching the junta by working with allies in Thailand and South Korea to divert revenues to accounts held until the civilian unity government national is recognized.

He said gas companies and banks that traded with the junta should face money laundering charges. He said the junta-controlled Myanma Foreign Trade Bank should face sanctions for money laundering.

International oil and gas companies like Total, Chevron and Woodside left Myanmar after the coup, but the junta’s investment minister, Aung Naing Oo, said only 10% of Myanmar’s oil and gas investment Myanmar came from the three companies and that their withdrawal had no impact on the economy. China, the largest source, provides about 27% of oil and gas investment.

Human rights organizations are urging Total not to pay the junta about $250 million it owes to Myanmar.

Since the coup in February last year, the regime has killed more than 1,800 people and has used airstrikes, artillery, arson, extrajudicial executions and arbitrary arrests against civilians.

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