NAfter the escalation of violence and the killing of three demonstrators in Myanmar, the European Union threatened the military junta with sanctions. “In response to the military coup, the EU stands ready to adopt restrictive measures aimed at those directly responsible for it,” said conclusions that were adopted Monday morning at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. It would also look at “other tools” available to the EU.
Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries based in Brussels.
This relates to development cooperation and the country’s status as a preferred trading partner, which is linked to easier imports. Efforts will be made not to hit the population. The foreign ministers condemned the coup of February 1 “in the strongest form” and called on the regime to reinstate the ousted, democratically legitimized government.
In a statement on behalf of all EU states, the EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell pointed out that the people of Myanmar had shown their strong support for the democratic transition of the country with their high participation in the November 8 elections. All allegations of election fraud would have to be clarified in the appropriate ways. “ The decision of the people of Myanmar to reverse by force is illegal, contrary to the principles of democracy, and sets the country back,” said Borrell.
While the EU foreign ministers were meeting, the demonstrators in Myanmar gathered for the largest rally since the beginning of the protest movement. Huge crowds gathered again in cities like Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyidaw, and large demonstrations were also reported from cities like Pathein, Myawaddy and Lashio.
In the course of a general strike called by the protest movement, tens of thousands of people also went to work. The y called for the return to democracy and the release of the ousted State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi. In the center of the largest city, Yangon, most of the shops were closed. The re the police blocked several traffic junctions and the entrances to foreign embassies with their vehicles. The nightly Internet block, which had been imposed repeatedly for days, had reportedly been extended well into the morning.
According to the online magazine “ The Irrawaddy”, more than 20 people were arrested in the capital Naypyidaw when the military tried to break up the demonstration there. The military rulers had previously issued a warning that they would not hesitate to use lethal force against the demonstrators again. On state television, the military accused Aung San Suu Kyi’s “National League for Democracy” and its supporters of having instigated the violent clashes of the past few days. The security forces were forced to shoot back, the statement said, according to the magazine “Frontier Myanmar”. “ The protesters incite people, especially emotional teenagers and young people, to take the path of confrontation that will cause them to lose their lives.”
Or else will Myanmar fall into the arms of China?
In the past few days, several foreign governments have sharply criticized the violent actions of the military. In a statement by the Foreign Ministry, the military dismissed the criticism as “shameless interference in internal affairs”. Despite “illegal demonstrations and incitement to unrest and violence, the authorities concerned are exercising the greatest possible restraint,” the statement said. “A minimum of violence” is used to get the unrest under control and to ensure the rule of law and public safety.
In their conclusions, EU foreign ministers called for all those arrested to be released immediately and unconditionally, in particular President Win Myint and Aung San Suu Kyi. The y condemned the repressive actions of the military and the police against peaceful demonstrators and called on those in power to “exercise maximum restraint”. The Internet must not be restricted, the rule of law and human rights must be observed. The EU will work with all who support democracy, the rule of law and good governance. This offer is not only aimed at the opposition, but also at the military leadership if they abandon their previous course. Diplomats in Brussels had emphasized before the meeting that, although the situation in the country could not be accepted, Myanmar did not want to be pushed back into the arms of China.
The procedure of the foreign ministers follows the EU textbook: Sanctions are first decided in principle before individual persons are “listed”, whose assets are blocked in the EU and who are then no longer allowed to enter. In between, a few weeks usually pass, during which those affected can still give in. If that does not happen – as most recently in the case of Belarus – the specific measures can be decided in writing and published in the Official Journal of the EU. In this case they would be directed against the leading coup leaders, first and foremost against General Min Aung Hlaing.