The European Union’s move to impose sanctions on Myanmar security officials is a small, positive step towards ensure justice for the ongoing genocide against the Rohingya people, but they do not go nearly far enough, the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) said today.
The sanctions, announced today after a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg, include asset freezes and travel bans targeting seven officials in the Myanmar military and Border Guard Police.
“These sanctions are a limited step in the right direction by the EU and at least show that the international community is willing to back up condemnation with concrete action. It is, however, deeply disappointing that many of those Myanmar officials most responsible for orchestrating the genocide against Rohingya have been let off the hook, most notably the Commander-in-Chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing,” said Tun Khin, President of BROUK.
“The EU and other international actors must also realise that they cannot limit themselves to sanctions in order to push Myanmar to end its genocidal policies. Only by ensuring that Myanmar’s authorities are brought to justice for their crimes can we ensure that these will not be repeated again in the future.”
The EU said the sanctions were due to atrocities and serious human rights violations committed by the Myanmar security forces against Rohingya in Rakhine State since August 2017. The seven individuals targeted include Lieutenant General Aung Kyaw Zaw and Major General Maung Maung Soe. The sanctions announced today add to an EU arms embargo already in effect against the Myanmar military forces.
Other international actors have taken limited actions against individual 2 Myanmar officials. In December 2017, the USA imposed sanctions on Maung Maung Soe for his role in “widespread human rights abuse against Rohingya civilians”.
The need for accountability
In August 2017, the Myanmar security forces launched a vicious “clearance operation” in Rakhine State in which thousands of Rohingya men, women and children were killed, whole villages were torched to the ground and almost 700,000 people were forced to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh.
The Rohingya people have suffered violence and systemic discrimination in Myanmar for decades, where they are denied citizenship and face severe restrictions on their human rights.
Despite these well-documented atrocities at the hands of the security forces, hardly anyone has been held to account. BROUK urges the international community to play a role in ensuring justice for the Rohingya people, and in particular calls on members of the UN Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.
“Individual sanctions are important and send a message that atrocities against the Rohingya people will have consequences. But they will ultimately not be enough to push Myanmar to end its blatant efforts to wipe the Rohingya out as a people,” said Tun Khin.
“To end the cycle of violence against Rohingya, those responsible for horrific crimes must be held to account. The international community must play a role in this, as Myanmar is both unwilling and unable to investigate itself. The hope of the Rohingya for justice now lies with the International Criminal Court, and UN Security Council members must refer the situation to The Hague immediately.”