March 19 (Reuters) - World leaders from Washington to Singapore have condemned a military coup in Myanmar, urging generals to halt a deadly crackdown on demonstrators, release detainees including civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and restore the elected government.
Some countries have followed up with targeted financial sanctions in hopes of putting the squeeze on the generals who staged the Feb. 1 coup and convince them to change course.
With the European Union set to approve sanctions on Myanmar next week, here is a snapshot of other actions around the globe.
President Joe Biden condemned the coup and issued an executive order on Feb. 11 that paved the way for new sanctions against the Myanmar military and its interests. The order froze about $1 billion in reserves Myanmar’s central bank was holding at the New York Fed, which the junta had attempted to withdraw after seizing power.
Some Myanmar generals, including Commander in Chief Min Aung Hlaing, were already under U.S. human rights sanctions over their role in a bloody campaign against the Rohingya Muslim minority that sparked a refugee crisis in 2017.
U.S. Treasury sanctions last month targeted 14 Myanmar officers involved in the coup, along with some military companies involved in the gemstone industry, freezing any U.S. assets they hold and barring Americans from dealing with them. Min Aung Hlaing’s children and companies they control were later hit with the same sanctions.
Four military-controlled ministries and conglomerates were placed under sanctions by the U.S. Commerce Department on March 4. Those measures require U.S. suppliers to seek difficult-to-obtain licences to export goods to the ministries of defence and home affairs, and to military conglomerates Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited and Myanmar Economic Corporation.
The European Union is set to impose sanctions on Myanmar’s armed forces to target businesses they run. They will be agreed by EU foreign ministers on Monday.
Sanctions would target companies “generating revenue for, or providing financial support to, the Myanmar Armed Forces”, according to documents seen by Reuters. The bloc sought to avoid measures that would harm ordinary people.
While the bloc has an arms embargo on Myanmar, and has targeted some senior military officials since 2018, the measures would be its most significant response since the coup.
Action against the junta from the international body has been stifled by Russia and China, which hold vetoes over the U.N. Security Council votes needed to impose U.N. sanctions or arms embargoes.
The two countries shielded Myanmar from any strong council action over the 2017 Rohingya crisis and argue that Myanmar’s political situation is an internal matter.
The 15-member Security Council has issued two statements expressing concern and condemning violence against protesters, but dropped language condemning the army takeover as a coup and threatening possible further action due to opposition by China, Russia, India and Vietnam.
Negotiations on the statements - issued in February and March - signalled that the council could struggle to do much more on Myanmar.
New Zealand announced a week after the coup that it was suspending high-level contacts with Myanmar and imposing a travel ban on military leaders.
Britain and Canada imposed their own sanctions on Feb. 13. Britain said it would impose asset freezes and travel bans on three generals while Canada blacklisted nine military officials. Britain has also taken measures to prevent British aid indirectly helping the junta.
Australia on March 7 said it was suspending its limited cooperation with the Myanmar military and would redirect aid bound for the government to aid groups.
Aside from sanctions, some overseas firms and investors who had business links with Myanmar’s military, like Japan’s Kirin Holdings Co, have cut those ties. (Reporting by Simon Lewis; additional reporting by John Geddie and Michelle Nichols; Editing by Nick Macfie)