Prof Sean Turnell calls for sanctions against Myanmar state-owned banks

Australian economist Prof Sean Turnell is calling on the Federal Government to sanction Myanmar’s state-owned banks which are used by the ruling junta to fund procurement of weapons.

In a speech to Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA on Tuesday night Prof Turnell says Australia should join the United States sanctioning the Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank (MFTB) and the Myanmar Investment and Commercial Bank (MICB).

“Myanmar’s state-owned banks are the principal vehicles through which its ruling junta funds the war they are waging against the Myanmar people,” Prof Turnell says.

“The most important of these banks for the procurement of weapons by Myanmar’s junta are the MFTB and the MICB which are depositories of the junta’s international reserves.”

“Recognising their role in facilitating atrocity, the United States has recently sanctioned MFTB and MICB.”

“Sanctioning MFTB and MICB is an effective, proportionate, and extraordinarily well-targeted measure against a truly bestial regime, that collectively might just make a difference.”

“Australia should join its friends and allies in this endeavour.”

Prof Turnell is an Australian economist and former economic policy advisor to State Councillor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar. He spent two years in jail in Myanmar following the junta’s takeover and returned to Australia following his release last November.

Finance Sector Union National Secretary Julia Angrisano said the FSU supported Prof Turnell’s call to sanction Myanmar’s state-owned banks to reduce the country’s ability to source weapons.

“The Australian Government has been dragging its feet on sanctioning Myanmar’s central banks,” Ms Angrisano said.

“Australia lags behind the EU, UK and US in terms of applying broader and more effective sanctions. With a Labor government in Canberra, it is time for bank sanctions to be implemented.”

“We recognise the strength and courage of the people of Myanmar who are resisting military rule and extend our full solidarity to the trade union movement and the people of Myanmar in their struggle for the restoration of democracy.”

Myanmar Campaign Network campaigner Tasneem Roc said while the Myanmar military regime has a strong arms production capability, it relies on foreign reserves for aircraft, aviation fuel and raw materials.

“With an increase in military spending, targeted sanctions on state-owned enterprises and banks are more critical than ever to disrupt the regime’s funding sources.”

“The human cost of Myanmar’s struggle for democracy is staggering. Countless lives have been lost and there are thousands of political prisoners in jail.”

“We implore the Australian Government to escalate sanctions and target state-owned enterprises, especially Myanmar’s banks.”

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