Global Witness welcomes today’s announcement by the European Union that it is adding Myanmar’s state-owned oil and gas company, Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), to its sanctions list, along with 22 individuals and three other companies.

The individuals sanctioned include a number of officials from the State Administration Council - the military junta’s governance vehicle. They also include 14 members of the military-appointed Union Election Commission who have helped the military launder its claims of election fraud by invalidating the November 2020 last summer in spite of a glaring lack of evidence. 

These sanctions are extremely important and demonstrate that the EU is willing to begin holding those who have helped enable the military’s actions to account. However, it is the EU’s decision to add MOGE to its sanctions list that is the most significant step any member of the international community has yet taken to punish Myanmar’s brutal military junta for its ongoing attempt to take control of the country.

Myanmar’s offshore gas sector provides over a billion USD per year in revenue to the government, money that is now being expropriated by a military junta that has killed over 1,500 civilians since the coup. Activists have been calling for months for the international community to cut off the military’s access to this revenue by sanctioning MOGE, and the EU appears to have finally heeded these calls.

“The addition of MOGE to the EU sanctions list is a hugely important step in targeting the revenue sources helping keep the military afloat,” said Hanna Hindstrom, Myanmar Senior Campaigner at Global Witness. “While the EU and other countries have sanctioned dozens of other entities, the exclusion of MOGE seriously limited the effectiveness of those sanctions. Today’s announcement shows that the EU is finally serious about addressing the main financial lifeline for the military government,” said Hindstrom.

In spite of the clear case for sanctioning MOGE, the past year has seen the EU and US take the side of the oil and gas companies and their lobbyists over Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement. The announcement in late January by Chevron and Total that they would begin withdrawing from the country due to the military’s human rights abuses signaled the companies were finally responding to the pressure and appears to have removed the final barriers for action from the EU. 

“This move is a welcome one but long overdue. Now the US and UK must follow suit, and all three must focus on enforcing these crucial economic sanctions,” concluded Hindstrom.