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    UN rights expert calls for sanctions on Myanmar's oil, gas


The UN's special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar wants to see the military junta deprived of revenues that support its "reign of terror."

by: Joseph Murphy

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UN rights expert calls for sanctions on Myanmar's oil, gas

The UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar has called for sanctions to be imposed on the country's oil and gas sector to stop what he described as the military junta's "reign of terror."

A coup d'etat began in Myanmar in February, when the democratically elected National League for Democracy was deposed by the country's military.  The military went on to declare a year-long state of emergency, transferring power to its commander-in-chief of defence services, Min Aung Hlaing.

"The junta's military forces have murdered approximately 900 people, forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands, tortured many, including torturing people in custody to death, disappeared untold numbers, and arbitrarily detained nearly 6,000 people," the UN's special rapporteur, Tom Andrews, said, addressing the Human Rights Council in Geneva on July 7.

Despite the violence, the junta has been unable to gain control of the country, despite capturing many levers of state power and the country's treasury.

"It has not - not even close - taken control of the nation and its people. The people of Myanmar roundly view the junta as illegitimate and, indeed, a terrorist scourge set loose upon them," Andrews said. "Now, more than ever, we must summon the courage of the people of Myanmar and choose the path of meaningful and sustained action."

Andrews called for the creation of a emergency coalition of nations to take "meaningful, coordinated action" to "reduce the junta's ability to attack its citizens, save the lives of those in acute criss, and gain political leverage so that the criss in Myanmar might come to a just and permanent conclusion."

This coalition should cut the junta off from significant revenues through "coordinated tough target sanctions", he said, including against the state-owned Myanmar Oil & Gas Enterprise (MOGE).

"Oil and gas sector revenues are a financial lifeline for the junta and are estimated to be close to what is needed for the junta to maintain the security forces that are keeping them in power," he said. "They should be stopped."

He also urged nations to outlaw arms exports to the junta, investigate Myanmar's senior security officials, increase humanitarian aid to the country and deny the regime any claim to legitimacy.

Human rights activists have been urging international oil and gas companies to withdraw from Myanmar, and many have listened. In late February Australia's Woodside Energy said it would suspend offshore exploration operations in the country, while TotalEnergies said in May it would suspend cash payments to shareholders in a gas pipeline operator that it owns jointly with MOGE. The French major said it would continue flowing gas via the pipeline from the offshore Yadana field, however, as halting supplies would leave it vulnerable to legal action.