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US blacklists Myanmar state-owned gems enterprise

WASHINGTON: The US Treasury Department on Thursday (Apr 8) imposed sanctions on a Myanmar state-owned gems enterprise in a bid to curtail the military junta’s ability to generate revenues, according to a statement.

The move is the latest from the Biden administration targeting the generals who seized power in Myanmar on Feb 1 and have killed more than 600 people in demonstrations against the coup, according to a tally by an activist group.

“Today’s action highlights Treasury’s commitment to denying the Burmese military sources of funding, including from key state-owned enterprises throughout Burma,” Andrea Gacki, director of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in the statement.

The United States, alongside other Western nations, has already slapped sanctions on generals involved in the coup and some of their family members, as well as two conglomerates controlled by the military. The junta’s leaders have so far refused to reverse course.

READ: UK sanctions Myanmar conglomerate, says junta sinking to new lows with killings

READ: Russia warns Myanmar sanctions could spark ‘full-blown civil conflict’

Myanma Gems Enterprise, part of the country’s mining ministry, was placed on the Treasury’s Special Designated Nationals list, the statement said.

The move blocks Americans from doing business with the entity, which issues permits and licenses for mining precious stones and collects revenues from the sale of gems and jade.

Myanmar is the world’s main source of jade, a sought-after stone in China, and a major source of rubies and other rare gems.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the blacklisting came as miiltary leaders attend with a gems emporium in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyitaw.

The United States would “keep increasing pressure on the regime’s revenue streams until it ceases its violence, releases all those unjustly detained, lifts martial law and the nationwide state of emergency, removes telecommunications restrictions, and restores Burma to the path of democracy,” Blinken said.

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