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1 Feb 2021

Burma Campaign UK calls for robust international response to Burma military coup

1 February 2021

Burma Campaign UK today called for a robust international response to the military coup in Burma which took place this morning. This should include sanctions against military companies and support for a global arms embargo. The UK already has its own arms embargo.

The Burmese military, led by Min Aung Hlaing, has arrested political leaders and human rights activists, including Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint. State media has been taken off air except for military owned channels. In a statement the military said it has imposed a state of emergency for one year.


Recommendations by a United Nations Fact-Finding Mission into human rights violations against the Rohingya and other ethnic groups in Burma have largely been ignored by the international community. These recommendations included referring the situation in Burma to the International Criminal Court, sanctioning military companies and a global arms embargo. The only sanction the UK has imposed on the military for genocide of the Rohingya has been to ban sixteen members of the military from taking holidays in the UK.


The coup is likely to lead to renewed international sanctions and protests within Burma. It is hard to see how the military as an institution can benefit from the coup. It is more likely about the personal ambitions of Min Aung Hlaing, who is required to retire in June. The coup could allow him to continue in his role, as well as being able to protect significant business interests his family have accrued thanks to his position as military head.

The coup takes place in a context where the international community has failed to take any significant action in response to ongoing human rights violations in ethnic states in recent years, not just against the Rohingya. The British government has refused to impose sanctions on military companies.