WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. said Tuesday it was imposing sanctions on a group of people and organizations connected to Myanmar's military regime as the two-year anniversary nears for the coup that removed the country's civilian government.
Six people and three organizations were designed for sanctions, including the country's elections commission, several mining firms and their executives, and current and former military officials, according to the Treasury Department. The sanctions block access to money and resources under U.S. control.
The sanctions come as Myanmar's military has conducted aerial bombings and other attacks against pro-democracy forces, killing and displacing civilians. The military relies on fighter jets and helicopter gunships supplied by its allies Russia and China, according to the organization Myanmar Witness and other experts.
Myanmar’s military-controlled government has also enacted a new law on registration of political parties that will make it difficult for opposition groups to mount a serious challenge to army-backed candidates in a general election set to take place later this year.
The administration uses a February 2021 executive order signed by President Joe Biden as its authority to impose the sanctions.
"The U.S. Department of the Treasury, along with partner nations like the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia continue to stand with the people of Burma as they seek freedom and democracy,” Brian Nelson, Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.
“The United States will continue to promote accountability for those who provide financial and material support to, and directly enable, the violent suppression of democracy in Burma."
A February 2021 military coup removed State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. Officials arrested her and top members of her governing National League for Democracy party, which had won a landslide victory for a second term in a November 2020 general election.
The military crackdown triggered armed resistance in much of the country, plunging Myanmar into a prolonged civil war.
A human rights monitoring group said in a report Tuesday that Myanmar’s military is increasingly turning to airstrikes with deadly results to try to crush stiff armed resistance two years after it seized power.
According to the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a watchdog group that tracks killings and arrests in Myanmar, 2,940 civilians have been killed and 17,572 have been arrested by authorities since the army takeover.
Associated Press writer Grant Peck in Bangkok contributed to this report