After the US imposed travel restrictions on Myanmar’s Army chief, Rohingya activists are calling for tougher sanctions on Myanmar’s Army for its role in ethnic cleansing. Last week, the US State Department took action against the army chief Min Aung Hlaing and other officers after finding ‘credible evidence’ of their involvement in the Rohingya violence two years ago.
Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, said the US is the first government to publicly take action on the Myanmar Army for its role in Rohingya that resulted in hundreds of thousands fleeing across the border into Bangladesh and thousands being killed. Pompeo said the United States remain concerned that the Burmese government has taken no actions to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuses. “There are continued reports of teh Burmese military committing human rights violations and abuses throughout the country,” he said.
The US has also sanctioned Deputy Commander-in-Chief Soe Win, Brigadier General Than Oo and Brigadier General Aung Aung and their families. Investigators say the violence warrants the prosecution of top generals for genocide and the International Criminal Court has already started a preliminary probe.
Zarni, a fellow of the Genocide Documentation Centre of Cambodia, said that if the US is ‘really serious’ about accountability, Washington should impose ‘crippling financial, political, diplomatic and economic sanctions’, invoke the Genocide Convention and file a legal challenge at the International Court of Justice. “The US – Myanmar policy is based on the farce that there is a fragile democratic transition led by Washington’s former democracy queen Suu Kyi, while her National League for Democracy (NLD) party-military coalition government is committing the gravest crimes, including genocide and war crimes against Rohingya and other national minorities,” he said. The London-based Burma (Myanmar) Human Rights Network has welcomed US’s steps and has also called for targeted sanctions against military-owned campanies and businesses.
The United Nations has described Rohingya as the world’s most persecuted people. The Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA) said that since August, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, and more than 34,000 Rohingya were thrown into fires and over 114,000 beaten and tortured.