Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong announced Thursday that the government was imposing additional sanctions on five entities with direct links to the Myanmar military. Targets of the sanctions include the Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank and the Myanmar Investment and Commercial Bank, two major banks that support the regime’s activities. The sanctions “are a response to the regime’s ongoing repression of the people of Myanmar, escalating violence, and the continuing deterioration of the political, humanitarian and security situation,” three years after the military seized power in an illegal coup.
The sanctions will also target the Myanmar military’s jet fuel supply chain, with Asia Sun Group, Asia Sun Trading Co Ltd and Cargo Link Petroleum Logistics Co Ltd also being subject to sanctions.
“They send a clear message of Australia’s deep concern for the regime’s ongoing actions, and its continued disregard for international efforts, particularly those of ASEAN, to seek a resolution to the crisis,” said Wong.
The sanctions are targeted financial sanctions designed to interfere with the flow of income to the ruling military junta and limit their access to resources. These measures have been imposed by the Australian government to restrict the Myanmar military’s operations, aimed at limiting the adverse impacts of their leadership. This includes restricting their supply of arms or related material and restricting their access to related services and assets.
Australia is only the latest nation to announce new sanctions against Myanmar’s military regime, with many Western nation sanctioning the regime. The US and UK both announced Thursday further sanctions, with their latest actions targeting military divisions and entities affiliated with Myanmar’s security forces.
Democracy activists are arguing that Australia has not gone far enough, calling for Australia to follow the US, UK and EU, who have issued over 400 sanctions.
In a post on X (formerly Twitter), CEO of Transparency International Australia Clancy Moore drew particular attention to the mining industry. “Australia should follow the US, Canada and EU in sanctioning the junta-controlled mining state-owned enterprises given the 10 networks of Australian mining investors, directors and companies still propped up the regime,” said Moore.
The comment follows a recent report from Justice for Myanmar that revealed at least 10 companies with Australian ties are continuing to operate in Myanmar’s military-operated mining sector. That report concluded with a statement from Justice For Myanmar spokesperson Yadanar Maung. In response to these findings, Maung said:
It is unacceptable that three years after the military’s illegal coup attemp, Australia is still failing to take necessary action to block the junta’s sources of funds from mining and other lucrative sectors… Australia needs to act now to impos sanctions on the junta, its businesses, and cronies, and stop Australians from directly and indirectly providing funds and other forms of support to the junta.
The new sanctions come three years after the coup d’etat started by the Myanmar military – the Tatmadaw – in February 2021. The military claimed that the 2021 election results were fraudulent and staged a coup, detaining top government officials. In the three years since the military seized control, there has been widespread civil disobedience and protests across the nation.
There has been a strong international response to the military’s disposal of the democratically elected civilian government, as Myanmar citizens have been subject to ongoing violence and humanitarian catastrophes.
The EU, US, UK and Canada have been prominent international actors in the response to the coup, imposing targeted sanctions on Myanmar’s junta since 2023. The sanctions have primarily targeted financial services, arms supply and operations involved in the supply of aviation fuel to the Myanmar military.