The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on four Myanmar security officials and two of the country’s military units for human rights abuses, including the ethnic cleansing of the country’s minority Muslim Rohingya population.
The Treasury Department’s announcement came almost exactly a year after a deadly crackdown by the Myanmar military forced some 7 lakh Rohingya Muslims to flee the country, Politico reported.
The US government said it was committed to ensuring an end to the atrocities. “Burmese security forces have engaged in violent campaigns against ethnic minority communities across Burma, including ethnic cleansing, massacres, sexual assault, extrajudicial killings and other serious human rights abuses,” senior Treasury Department official Sigal P Mandelker said. Myanmar is also known as Burma.
The targets of the sanctions are the Myanmarese military commanders Aung Kyaw Zaw, Khin Maung Soe and Khin Hlaing, Border Guard Police commander Thura San Lwin, and the Myanmar Army’s 33rd Light Infantry Division and the 99th Light Infantry Division.
The sanctions were levied in part under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act of 2016, which gives United States officials broad authority to target people for human rights abuses.
The United Nations and the United States have referred to the Myanmar security forces’ actions as “ethnic cleansing”, and Nobel laureate and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi has faced widespread criticism for not doing enough to stop the persecution.
Late last month, Myanmar set up a commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of human rights abuses against the Rohingyas. Filipino diplomat Rosario Manalo will head the four-member panel.