The Trump administration has sanctioned Myanmar military forces for their “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya population in Rakhine state and “widespread human rights abuses” against Christians and other religious minorities in two other states.
Amid consistent calls from activists for the United States to act in response to what they say is a genocide in the Asian country, the Treasury Department announced Friday that its Office of Foreign Assets Control has sanctioned four Burmese military and Border Guard Police commanders as well as two Burmese military units.
The sanctions come in response to what the U.S. government has described as an “ethnic cleansing” of the predominantly Muslim Rohingya minority in Rakhine. These actions are also in response to the persecution and violence faced by many in the Kachin and Shan states; however the ethnic cleansing designation was not applied in those cases.
The sanctions impact Burmese military commanders Aung Kyaw Zaw, Khin Maun Soe, Khin Hlaing and BGP commander Thura San Lwin. The sanctions also impact Myanmar’s 33rd Light Infantry Division and 99th Light Infantry Division, which the U.S. says has overseen the abuse in those three areas.
The sanctions were issued in accordance with the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act of 2016, which allows the U.S. to target perpetrators of human rights abuses by seizing U.S. assets or issuing travel bans.
As a result, assets those leaders of divisions have within American jurisdictions are no longer accessible.
“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,” Sigal Mandelker, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement. “Treasury is sanctioning units and leaders overseeing this horrific behavior as part of a broader U.S. government strategy to hold accountable those responsible for such wide scale human suffering.”
Mandelker assured that there must be “justice for the victims” and those responsible need to be “held to account.”
The announcement comes about a year after the Myanmar military began its crackdown against the Rohingya.
“The U.S. government is committed to ensuring that Burmese military units and leaders reckon with and put a stop to these brutal acts,” he contended. “We will continue to systematically expose and bring accountability to human rights abusers in this region and many others and greatly appreciate the efforts of civil society who are doing the same.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith