Sun, 22 May 2022

New York [US], January 25 (ANI): The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said that Myanmar's military will continue to collect massive revenues from natural gas and other extractive sectors unless new targeted sanctions block foreign currency payments supporting the junta's abusive rule on Tuesday.

"After nearly a year in power, Myanmar's junta is continuing to commit horrific abuses without facing significant costs from the international community," said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch stressing that Junta leaders are not going to turn away from "their brutality and oppression" unless governments impose more significant financial pressure on them.

Two energy industry companies, TotalEnergies and Chevron announced plans to leave Myanmar on Friday, but natural gas revenue to the junta will continue because other companies will take over their operations, said HRW on Tuesday.

The United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Japan, and other concerned governments should now adopt a common position to impose sanctions on all-natural gas revenues. Thailand's state-owned PTT and South Korea's POSCO, the two main energy companies remaining in Myanmar, should signal their support for such measures.

Natural gas projects in Myanmar generate over USD1 billion in foreign revenue for the junta annually, its single largest source of foreign currency revenue. The money is transmitted in US dollars to the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) and other military-controlled bank accounts in foreign countries in the form of fees, taxes, royalties, and revenues from the export of natural gas, most of which travels by pipeline to Thailand or China, according to HRW.

TotalEnergies on Friday said that the company was withdrawing from Myanmar due to the deteriorating human rights situation, which "no longer allows TotalEnergies to make a sufficiently positive contribution in the country."TotalEnergies, in partnership with Chevron and PTT, has since the 1990s operated the Yadana gas project, one of the country's largest fields. Chevron sent a brief statement to journalists the same day, stating that it was making "a planned and orderly transition that will lead to an exit from the country", according to HRW.

"Energy company departures from Myanmar will be only gestures so long as the junta keeps making money," Sifton said. "The US and EU urgently need to impose measures that will have real economic impact on the junta, if there is to be any progress on human rights." (ANI)

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