EU penalises Myanmar generals for Rohingya violations

LUXEMBOURG: The Euro­­­­pean Union imposed sanctions on seven senior military officials from Myanmar on Monday, including the general in charge of an operation accused of driving nea­rly 700,000 Rohingya Mus­lims to flee to Bangladesh.

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The seven face asset free­zes and are banned from tra­velling to the EU, after the bloc extended an arms emb­a­­r­go and prohibited any trai­ning of, or cooperation with Myanmar’s armed forces.

The sanctions, first repo­r­ted by Reuters in April, also mark a shift in diplomacy by the EU, which suspended its restrictive measures on the Southeast Asian country in 2012 to support its partial shift to democratic governance in recent years.

But the plight of the Rohin­­­gya Muslims in Rakhine Sta­te, which the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing by the military, has sou­red relations. Yangon rejects all ac­­­cusations of wrongdoing.

Last December, the Uni­ted States imposed sanctions in response to the crackdo­wn on the Rohingya minority in Rakhine. These included sanctions on Major General Maung Maung Soe, who was transferred late last year from his post as the head of Western Command in Ra­­k­hine, where Myanmar’s military launched a sweeping counter-insurgency operation in August.

“He is responsible for the atrocities and serious human rights violations committed against (the) Rohingya population in Rakhine State by the Western Command during that period,” the EU said in a statement.

Thant Zin Oo, the comm­ander of the Eighth Security Police Battalion, was also sanctioned. The EU accused him of “serious human rights violations (that) include unlawful killings and systematic burning of Rohingya houses and buildings.” Five other senior military staff were named, all generals.

Canada also sanctioned senior military officials in February, when this news agency also reported on events in the village of Inn Din where 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys were hacked to death by Rakhine Buddhist villagers or shot by security force members.

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