US imposes sanctions on high-ranking Myanmar military leaders for abuses against Rohingya

Washington bans General Min Aung Hlaing, his deputy and two brigadier generals for failing to stop violence against Rohingya Muslims.

Washington (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The US government has decided to impose sweeping sanctions against high-ranking officers of Myanmar’s Armed Forces over allegations of human rights and other abuses against Rohingya Muslims.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the announcement yesterday during an international ministerial conference on religious freedom at the US State Department.

The Myanmar officers have been banned from the United States because “the Burmese government has taken no actions to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, and there are continued reports of the Burmese military committing human rights violations and abuses throughout the country,” Secretary Pompeo said in a statement.

The restrictions affect Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces, his deputy Vice-Senior General Soe Win, and Brigadier Generals Than Oo and Aung. The ban also applies to their families.

This is the harshest action ever undertaken by the Trump administration against the Myanmar military.

Last year, the United Nations accused the generals of "intent of genocide" against the Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic minority originally from Bangladesh who have lived in Myanmar for generations.

Myanmar does not recognise Rohingya’s right to citizenship and has rejected the United Nations Human Rights Council's view that massacres took place in Rakhine State.

After violence broke out in August 2017 between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army ARSA), more than 750,000 people fled to Bangladesh.

For almost two years, refugees have been living in camps in Cox’s Bazar, on the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar.

A repatriation deal is in place, but at present no one is willing to return without guarantees that they will be able to live in peace.