US imposes sanctions on Myanmar military over Rohingya abuse

WASHINGTON: The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on four Myanmar military and police commanders and two army units, accusing them of “ethnic cleansing” against Rohingya and widespread human rights abuses across the Southeast Asian nation.
The sanctions by the Treasury Department marked the toughest US action so far in response to Myanmar’s crackdown on the Rohingya minority, which started last year and has driven more than 700,000 people into neighbouring Bangladesh and left thousands of dead behind.
But the Trump administration did not target the highest levels of Myanmar’s military and also stopped short of calling the anti-Rohingya campaign crimes against humanity or genocide, which has been the subject of debate within the US government.
The measures were announced as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to US officials, prepares to issue the findings of an intensive US investigation of alleged atrocities by Myanmar authorities against the Rohingya in Rakhine state.
The release of the report, compiled from interviews at refugee camps in Bangladesh, is expected to be around the August 25 one-year anniversary of the bloody crackdown.
“Burmese security forces have engaged in violent campaigns against ethnic minority communities across Burma, including ethnic cleansing, massacres, assault, extrajudicial killings and other serious human rights abuses,” said Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Sigal Mandelker, using an alternative name for Myanmar.
“Treasury is sanctioning units and leaders overseeing this horrific behaviour as part of a broader US government strategy to hold accountable those responsible for such wide-scale human suffering,” Mandelker said.
The sanctions were imposed on military commanders Aung Kyaw Zaw, Khin Maung Soe and Khin Hlaing and border police commander Thura San Lwin, in addition to the 33rd and 99th Light Infantry Divisions. — Reuters