ACFID published updated sanctions fact sheet showing Australian Government inaction on Myanmar

Click here to view and download the Atrocities in Myanmar: use of sanctions by other countries compared to Australia Factsheet. Last updated February 2022.


Since the Tatmadaw seized power on the 1st February 2021, the situation on the ground has significantly worsened. Civilians have suffered from collapsed infrastructure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which in conjunction with weak governance has exacerbated nation-wide poverty, displacement and terror.

Myanmar’s military machine is fuelled by its control of conglomerates, Myanmar Economic Corporation, Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited, and Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise. These conglomerates export oil, gas and mining resources which have been put under sanction by the EU, UK, US and Canada, with Australia absent from this move to end support for Myanmar military.

Sanctions are an important measure for Australia to enact against Myanmar’s military. Imposing sanctions will erode the Tatmadaw’s economic viability, by severing the flow of money that is used to facilitate crimes against humanity. Australia, acting within a wider multilateral response, would be able to help bring the military junta to terms and end violence against civilians and minority populations.

“There will be a day of accountability for this regime and for the crimes that they are committing against their own citizens,” Scott Morrison recently stated in an address to Burmese people. ACFID calls for this day to be today.

Marc Purcell, ACFID CEO said: “ACFID stands with civil societies in Myanmar who are relying on sanctions to be imposed against the military junta, individual perpetrators and affiliated entities to bring atrocities to an end.”

“In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we have seen that Australia is capable of bringing these measures into effect in a swift and decisive manner.”

“However, Australia’s sanctions against the Tatmadaw have not been amended since the coup.” This raises an important question for the nation: why hasn’t Australia acted against the ruling junta?

In light of recent findings, this question becomes even more salient. The US Secretary of State has formally recognised that Tatmadaw generals have and still are, committing genocide against Rohingya people in Rakhine State. This comes after an address by Antony Blinken in March, acknowledging that crimes against humanity have been systemically executed against the Rohingya population by the military junta. This formal acknowledgement of genocide calls Australia’s response into examination.

Following stride with the EU, UK, US and Canada, ACFID’s updated analysis shows these countries have leveraged Magnitsky legislation to sanction a total of 196 individuals and 172 entities. Australia must consult civil society in Myanmar to impose more sanctions against human rights abusers. This can take effect immediately through an amendment of the Autonomous Sanctions Regulations 2011, which has the ability to target both individuals and entities.

As a leader in the Indo-Pacific region, Australia must do more to address the autocratic regime in Myanmar that is repressing human rights, and ending the lives of innocent civilians. As the invasion of Ukraine has made evident, Australia stands for freedom and against violations to the rule of law, moral principles that must be acted on to address the deteriorating situation in Myanmar.

Read our previous release from June 2021 here.

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