Fresh Australian sanctions announced against two Myanmar state-owned banks


Fresh Australian sanctions announced against two Myanmar state-owned banks

Australian Foreign Minister Senator Penny Wong announced additional sanctions against the Myanmar military regime on the third anniversary of the Myanmar coup last week. This move follows several months of robust advocacy efforts, notably highlighted by an open letter initiated by the Australian-based Myanmar Campaign Network (MCN) and addressed to the Foreign Minister in early November 2023.

The letter, endorsed by over 400 organizations, including UNI Global Union, identified more than 20 state-owned enterprises and entities within the banking sector that significantly contribute to the junta’s ability to finance its oppressive activities against the people of Myanmar.

Among the identified entities, the Australian government has chosen to impose sanctions specifically on the state-owned Myanma Foreign Trade Bank (MFTB) and Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank (MICB). Three jet fuel suppliers were also included in the new sanctions.

These measures reflect Australia’s stepped-up commitment to aligning its efforts with international sanctions against the military regime, which accounted for 2 per cent in the year 2023. But further vigilance is essential as the regime continually seeks ways to circumvent international sanctions.

UNI affiliate, FSU Australia, as an MCN coalition member, took a strong supporting role in mobilizing support for the open letter among the Australian and global trade union movement. The FSU had been further motivated to step up on their already remarkable solidarity efforts after hearing a message from the Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM) during the UNI Global Union’s 6th World Congress held in Philadelphia, USA, earlier in August 2023.

Rajendra Acharya, UNI Asia & Pacific Regional Secretary, commended the FSU, stating, “We are very proud of you for keeping the UNI flag flying high in supporting the Myanmar people’s struggle for human rights and restoration of democracy. The timing of the new sanctions is crucial, and we will actively support calls for additional measures to restrict the junta’s access to foreign revenue.”

UNI Global Union is sustaining efforts to support international pressure on the military regime. Last week, UNI signed a joint Council of Global Unions letter to the EU asking for them to end the MADE in Myanmar program and to withdraw Everything but Arms Trade Preferences. UNI Global Union General Secretary Christy Hoffman also spoke at the CTUM and Global Unions webinar which focused on the ILO Commission of Inquiry (COI) report and the NUG Tripartite Accreditation.