Official: US at turning point in Myanmar crisis management | WGN 720 radio


JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – The United States is at a crossroads in its decision to handle the Myanmar crisis under military control, weighing new political and economic measures to pressure the government to change its behavior, a said a senior US official on Thursday.

“The situation is worsening in Burma, both from a humanitarian point of view, from a security point of view, in terms of economy and lack of progress on the political level,” the Associated Press told the US State Department Advisor Derek Chollet. a meeting.

The United States has been one of the strongest opponents of the military takeover that toppled Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government in February. Suu Kyi was arrested and detained along with prominent members of her party, the National League for Democracy, including President Win Myint.

A detailed account from the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners accuses security forces of the murder of nearly 1,200 civilians and the arrest of more than 9,043 others since February 1. The government is now facing a growing insurgency in many parts of the country.

Chollet, who is an advisor to the secretary of state, gave an online interview while the US delegation was in Indonesia after visiting Thailand and Singapore ahead of an annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Brunei, where the situation in Myanmar is likely to dominate.

“We believe we have tools that can help prevent the worst from happening in the short term. But like I said, I think we’re at an inflection point in the process, ”said Chollet. The United States and other governments can use political and economic levers to “pressure the regime to try to give them the kind of incentives to change their behavior.”

“Part of what we’re trying to do as the United States is to come in and not dictate the terms, but offer our best perspectives and also hear from different partners here in the region,” a- he declared. During talks with the three key members of ASEAN, the US delegation was able to get “some idea of ​​their ideas on the best way forward.”

The United States, along with the United Kingdom and the European Union, have previously imposed sanctions on Myanmar’s high-ranking military personnel and state-owned enterprises – including those that sell lucrative timber and gemstones – that are considered sources of income for the military.

But activists were quick to point out that the sanctions did not include US and French oil and gas companies working in Myanmar, allowing the military to maintain its main source of foreign currency income. It allows them to make purchases such as refined petroleum, weapons, packaged medicines and other imported goods.

“Not having sanctions allows these massive multinationals that have huge stakeholder investments to potentially be complicit in ongoing atrocities and crimes in Myanmar,” said Manny Maung, Burmese researcher for Human Rights Watch. “These business relationships basically go directly to the criminal junta. Failure to take reasonable steps… is really quite reckless and allows companies to be complicit. “

Chollet admitted that there is “no doubt” that sanctioning the oil sector is a tool available to the United States. But he also warned that Washington should “keep in mind the interests” of allies and partners in the region.

“This is why we are here to think about the way forward, what could actually work to try to change the outlook for the junta,” he said. “But then also how can we do it in a way that doesn’t make our problems worse.” He said the Biden administration had not made a final decision.

ASEAN on Friday announced that it would not invite Burmese military leader General Min Aung Hlaing to the summit, a major repudiation for the country after refusing to allow an ASEAN envoy to meet with Suu Kyi. The envoy, a diplomat from Brunei, later canceled his trip to Myanmar.

The decision was applauded by the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews. He said the military government was looking for money, weapons and legitimacy from the international community.

“ASEAN’s announcement that the junta will not be welcome at its next summit denies the junta… legitimacy,” he said on Monday. “Sustained pressure on all three fronts… is the best way for the international community to help the people of Myanmar protect their human rights and save their country.

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