US slaps sanctions on Myanmar's state-owned gems enterprise

Lalit K Jha
·2-min read

Washington, Apr 8 (PTI) The US on Thursday imposed sanctions on a Myanmar state-owned gems enterprise, mounting pressure on the military junta by curtailing its ability to generate revenues and sending a 'clear signal' to generals to shun violence and lift the nationwide state of emergency.

Gemstones are a key economic resource for the Myanmar’s military regime that is violently repressing pro-democracy protests in the country.

The move is the latest from the Biden administration targeting the generals who seized power in Myanmar on February 1 and have reportedly killed hundreds of people in demonstrations against the coup.

“We take this action as military leaders participate in an ongoing gems emporium in Nay Pyi Taw, under the auspices of Myanma Gems Enterprise,” US Secretary of State Tony Blinken said in a statement.

“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,” he said.

Burma is the old name of Myanmar.

Blinken said the United States, in close coordination with its allies and partners throughout the region and the world, remains steadfast in its commitment to press the Burmese military and security forces to cease all violence against peaceful protestors and others, to support the restoration of democracy, and to promote accountability for the coup and the violence that followed.

“Today’s action highlights Treasury’s commitment to denying the Burmese military sources of funding, including from key state-owned enterprises throughout Burma,” said Andrea Gacki, Director of the Office of the Foreign Assets Control.

The United States will continue to work tirelessly, including with partners throughout the region and the world, to support the restoration of democracy and rule of law in Myanmar and to bring accountability to those who seek to undermine these values, she said.

Myanma Gems Enterprise is a state-owned enterprise operating under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation. MGE is a subdivision of the Ministry of Mines, which is responsible for managing the mining and marketing of jade and other gemstones.

MGE is responsible for all functions relating to gemstones, including permitting, licensing, enforcing the regulatory framework, participating in joint ventures on behalf of the state, collecting royalties, and marketing of jade and gemstones in Myanmar.

MGE is also responsible for supervising and granting permits for local private individuals and companies as well as organising emporiums and special sales three times a year for gems and jade extracted. PTI LKJ MRJ MRJ