U.S. sanctions Myanmar over ethnic cleansing

The U.S. Treasury Department accused the Myanmar government of ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority. File Photo by Abir Abdullah/EPA-EFE

Aug. 17 (UPI) — The U.S. Treasury on Friday imposed sanctions on four Myanma security members and two military units for “widespread” human rights abuses throughout the country.

The department accused the service members of ethnic cleansing in Rakhine state, and other human rights abuses in Kachin and Shan states. A release said security forces have taken part in massacres, sexual assault and extrajudicial killings.

“Treasury is sanctioning units and leaders overseeing this horrific behavior as part of a broader U.S. government strategy to hold accountable those responsible for such wide scale human suffering,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury under secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “There must be justice for the victims and those who work to uncover these atrocities, with those responsible held to account for these abhorrent crimes.”

The sanctions target Aung Kyaw Zaw, Khin Maung Soe, Khin Hlaing and Border Guard Police commander Thura San Lwin, along with the 33rd Light Infantry Division and the 99th LID.

Last month, international human rights group Fortify Rights accused the Myanmar government of genocide against the Rohingya minority living in the country. Thousands fled violence amid an uprising in August 2017 and attempted to enter neighboring Bangladesh, leading to a refugee crisis there.

The Rohingya, a group of ethnic Muslims largely living in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, are a religious minority in Myanmar, but are denied citizenship and an ethnic minority status.

Within a few weeks of the uprising, conservative estimates from Doctors Without Borders showed at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in the violence, including at least 730 children under the age of 5, and hundreds of thousands of Rohingya had fled.


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