Reviews | Biden expected to cut gas revenue that funds Myanmar junta

The Biden administration froze $1 billion in Myanmar public funds and imposed sanctions on many Myanmar generals and gem, timber and pearl businesses that also fill their bank accounts. But amid lobbying by Chevron, which is involved in a joint venture with MOGE, President Biden has refrained from targeting gas revenues.

This would be a blow to the finances of the junta. The operations of the MOGE are the main source of revenue for the state. Much of this comes from the major gas field that Chevron and France’s TotalEnergies operate with MOGE and a Thai energy company. Chevron and TotalEnergies have argued that the sanctions would impose ever-increasing power cuts on Myanmar citizens, as natural gas is responsible for generating some of Myanmar’s electricity. But sanctions don’t need to turn off the gas, and we resent the suggestion that we trade our freedom and security for a few hours of electricity. Calls for sanctions against the MOGE are being made not from abroad but from within Myanmar by hundreds of civil society organizations, activist groups and trade unions that took part in the peaceful resistance In the Army.

This year, TotalEnergies and Chevron announced plans to pull out of Myanmar, but the junta could still seize gas revenues through the MOGE.

The European Union has imposed sanctions on the MOGE, but they contain loopholes that can be exploited. We need US-led sanctions with real bite, like those used to limit Russia’s ability to wage war on Ukraine.

This will not solve all the problems that have accumulated in Myanmar over decades of military domination and mismanagement. But we must begin by cutting off the Tatmadaw’s access to imported planes, bombs, bullets, kerosene, surveillance equipment and other tools of repression. We want peace, prosperity and a truly democratic future for all people of Myanmar, regardless of ethnicity, free from military domination once and for all.

But as long as the gas revenues flow, the blood of the Burmese people will flow too.

Thinzar Shunlei Yi (@thinzashunleiyi) is a Burmese pro-democracy activist who is a member of the civil society coalition Action Committee for Democracy Development and founder of the Sisters2Sisters campaign promoting solidarity among Burmese women, and works with People’s Goal, an organization that encourages Burmese soldiers in the absence of the military junta.

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