In Prak Sokhonn’s three-day visit to Myanmar this week, the special envoy for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ( Asean ) did not meet any representatives of the ousted government on his first official mission to the crisis-hit country. The envoy, tasked with quelling violence in Myanmar , held talks with armed forces chief Min Aung Hlaing, who seized power in a coup in February 2021, and met ministers appointed by the ruling State Administration Council. That despite a statement by the National Unity Government (NUG) – or the elected government in exile – calling on Prak Sokhonn, who is also Cambodia’s deputy prime minister, to also meet its leader Aung San Suu Kyi . Prak Sokhonn said he was told by the junta chief that there would be no access to the ousted former elected leader while her trial was ongoing, but would consider a request to see Suu Kyi and other detainees in future. The controversial trip, which prompted nationwide protests in Myanmar, took place amid widespread criticism that the junta did not meet its obligations under Asean’s Five-Point Consensus , and the United States government’s formal declaration this week that violence committed by Myanmar’s military against the Rohingya minority amounted to genocide and crimes against humanity . While these moves appear to put pressure on Myanmar’s military government, analysts say tougher measures such as further sanctions on the country’s largest oil and gas company, and even a total worldwide arms embargo, will be needed to compel the junta to change course. Sanctions on the entire military network, including business and religious cronies of the junta, should also be imposed, at least one expert suggested. Myanmar revokes citizenship of opposition members Before Prak Sokhonn’s trip, the Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights said that the visit, which came without any conditions or demands on the junta to meet its obligations under the Five Point Consensus, was a betrayal of the collective decision of Asean and the will of Myanmar’s people. The Consensus – reached in April last year – includes a call for an end to hostilities and the start of a peace process. However, during Prak Sokhonn’s visit, foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin said the implementation of the Consensus must be a “Myanmar-owned” and “Myanmar-led” process. Hunter Marston, a WSD-Handa fellow with the Hawaii-based Pacific Forum think tank, said the envoy’s visit had strengthened the military’s hand by affirming their own version of the implementation process. “It has allowed Min Aung Hlaing and the Myanmar junta to take control of the narrative by spinning the visit for propaganda purposes,” Marston said. On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the determination that the Myanmar military had committed genocide and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya minority was made after a factual assessment and legal analysis review. The review, prepared by the US State Department, included documentation by a range of independent, impartial sources, according to Blinken, who highlighted a 2018 report by the department which focused on violence in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State in 2016 and 2017. The report found that violence against the Rohingya was “extreme, large-scale, widespread, and seemingly geared toward both terrorising the population and driving out the Rohingya residents”. Further sanctions Htwe Htwe Thein, an associate professor in Australia’s Curtin University said that the labelling of the repression of Rohingya Muslims as genocide was significant, as it would push the Biden administration towards even stronger punitive actions against the Myanmar military. What was likely to come next would be further sanctions on the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), Htwe Htwe Thein said, referring to the country’s state-owned oil and gas company – a lucrative source of income for the military and top officials. Last month, the European Union added MOGE to its sanction list. Htwe Htwe Thein said that to block or disrupt money flows from the oil and gas sector, further sanctions on banks and financial transactions were needed. “The financial transactions of banks in and out of Myanmar should be carefully scrutinised, especially international banks with a presence in Southeast Asia,” she said. In recent weeks, advocates have called on international governments to impose sanctions against supplying aviation fuel to Myanmar as its security forces had carried out air strikes against opponents of the junta. “The energy companies and ports involved in the sale and shipping of jet fuels to Myanmar ought to be pressured more so that they stop selling and shipping,” Htwe Htwe Thein said. Forcing the junta’s hand Jonathan Chow, an assistant political science professor at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, said acknowledging the atrocities committed against the Rohingya was essential to establishing an authoritative historical record, and in dealing with misinformation, denial, and efforts to erase the identity of the Rohingya people. Chow said an important step towards changing the junta’s calculations would be to impose a worldwide embargo on the sale or transfer of arms to the country’s military. He cited the report released last month by Thomas Andrews, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Myanmar, which noted that China, Russia and Serbia had all supplied categories of weapons to the junta since the coup. These include fighter jets, armoured vehicles, rockets and artillery that have been used to attack civilians. In June last year, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling for member states to “prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar”, but it is non-binding. “But such an embargo has not been forthcoming due to the likelihood of vetoes by China and Russia,” Chow said, referring to the two permanent members of the UN Security Council who share close ties with Myanmar. How Myanmar’s NUG plans to raise US$1 billion to challenge the junta Mikael Gravers, associate professor emeritus at Aarhus University in Denmark, said that apart from the generals and their supporters, sanctions also needed to hit the entire military network, including “wealthy business cronies and influential nationalist monks”. “(The network) acts as a corporate unit in which loyalty and unity is rewarded, while dissidence and defection is punished harshly,” Gravers said, adding that while “the cronies secure weapon and fuel deals from Belarus and Russia, the monks legitimise violent military rule as the defence of race and Buddhism”. Gravers added that monks such as Sitagu Sayadaw, who have close ties with the military, should also be barred from travelling overseas. To claim legitimacy in a country which is predominantly Buddhist, military chief Min Aung Hlaing has in recent months met senior monks and visited monasteries in the country. A report from the United States Institute of Peace in December found that public displays of military support for Buddhism increased almost fourfold after the coup. Apart from accompanying Min Aung Hlaing’s second-in-command, General Soe Win, for a trip to Russia last year, Sitagu Sayadaw has also defended the junta’s military action against the Rohingya by saying that “non-Buddhists are not human, so killing them is justified”. An important move that will compel the junta to change course, Graver said, is for the international community to recognise the NUG, and to send financial and material help to the opposition. “This would significantly augment the pressure upon the junta, as well as upon the Asean,” he said.