On Human Rights Day, US Imposes Sanctions on Businesses and Officials in China, Myanmar and North Korea

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The United States on Friday imposed sweeping human rights sanctions on dozens of people and entities linked to China, Myanmar, North Korea and Bangladesh, and the Chinese company added. artificial intelligence SenseTime Group to an investment blacklist.

Canada and the United Kingdom have joined with the United States in imposing sanctions related to human rights violations in Myanmar, while Washington also imposed the first new sanctions against North Korea under the administration of the United States. President Joe Biden and targeted Myanmar military entities, among others, in an action to mark Human Rights Day. .

“Our actions today, especially those in partnership with the UK and Canada, send the message that democracies around the world will act against those who abuse state power to inflict suffering and repression,” said Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo in a statement. declaration.

The North Korean mission to the United Nations and the embassies in Washington of China, Myanmar and Bangladesh did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The measures are the latest in a series of sanctions scheduled to coincide with Biden’s two-day virtual summit for democracy, where he announced initiatives to strengthen democracy around the world and support pro-democracy legislation in the states. United.

Biden said on Friday that pledges made by some of the more than 100 world leaders at the summit would oppose the rise of autocracy around the world, fight corruption and promote human rights.

“This will help to sow fertile ground for the flourishing of democracy around the world,” he said in a closing speech at the summit.

The Treasury added Chinese artificial intelligence company SenseTime to a list of “companies in the Chinese military-industrial complex” on Friday, accusing it of developing facial recognition programs capable of determining a target’s ethnicity. , with particular emphasis on the identification of the Uyghur ethnic group.

As a result, the company will fall under an investment ban for US investors. SenseTime is set to sell 1.5 billion shares in an initial public offering (IPO). After the Treasury restrictions were announced earlier this week, the company began discussing the fate of the planned $ 767 million offer with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, said two people directly familiar with the matter.

UN experts and rights groups estimate that more than a million people, mostly Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities, have been detained in recent years in a vast system of camps in the region. from Xinjiang, in the far west of China.

China denies the abuses in Xinjiang, but the US government and many human rights groups say Beijing is committing genocide there.

Burma, North Korea

The Treasury said it was imposing sanctions on two Burmese military entities and an organization that supplies reserves to the military. The Directorate of Defense Industries, one of the targeted entities, manufactures weapons for the military and police that were used in a brutal crackdown on opponents of the February 1 military coup.

The Treasury also targeted four regional chief ministers, including Myo Swe Win, who heads the junta’s administration in the Bago region, where the Treasury said at least 82 people were killed in a single day in April. .

Canada has imposed sanctions against four entities affiliated with Myanmar’s military government, while the UK has imposed new sanctions against the military.

Myanmar was plunged into crisis when the military overthrew leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her government on February 1, sparking daily protests in towns and fighting in border areas between the military and minority insurgents. ethnic.

>> “I could not kill innocent people”: Burmese soldiers defect to join the resistance

Junta forces seeking to crush the opposition have killed more than 1,300 people, according to the watch group of the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP).

Campaign group Global Witness said in a statement that the measures did not target Myanmar’s natural gas industry, a key source of foreign exchange for the junta, and were “unlikely to have a material impact on results. of the military junta “.

The Treasury also blacklisted the central prosecutor’s office of North Korea, as well as the former Minister of Social Security and recently appointed Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Ri Yong Gil, as well as a Russian university for facilitating the export. of workers from North Korea.

North Korea has long called for the lifting of US and international sanctions on its weapons programs and has denounced US criticism of its human rights record as evidence of a hostile policy against it.

The Biden administration has repeatedly called on North Korea to engage in dialogue on its nuclear and missile programs, to no avail.

The US State Department on Friday also banned 12 people from traveling to the United States, including officials in China, Belarus and Sri Lanka.


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