US mulls sanc­tions on Myan­mar over Ro­hingya

The Miracle - - Front Page - Source: Al-Jazeera

The United States is con­sid­er­ing sanc­tions against Myan­mar au­thor­i­ties for its “vi­o­lent, trau­matic abuses” of the ma­jor­ity Mus­lim Ro­hingya in restive Rakhine state. Wash­ing­ton may use a hu­man rights law to tar­get lead­ers or groups in­volved in the vi­o­lence in the west­ern state, the US Depart­ment of State said in a state­ment on Mon­day. “We ex­press our gravest con­cern with re­cent events in Rakhine state and the vi­o­lent, trau­matic abuses Ro­hingya and other com­mu­ni­ties have en­dured,” the state­ment said. “It is im­per­a­tive that any in­di­vid­u­als or en­ti­ties re­spon­si­ble for atroc­i­ties, in­clud­ing non-state ac­tors and vig­i­lantes, be held ac­count­able.” Since Au­gust 25, the Myan­mar army has waged a bru­tal mil­i­tary cam­paign in Rakhine against the Ro­hingya. More than 600,000 Ro­hingya have fled the coun­try, most ar­riv­ing in Bangladesh by foot or by boat, with aid agen­cies strug­gling to cope with the in­flux. “We are ex­plor­ing ac­count­abil­ity mech­a­nisms avail­able un­der US law, in­clud­ing Global Mag­nit­sky tar­geted sanc­tions,” Heather Nauert, State Depart­ment spokesper­son, said. Un­der the Global Mag­nit­sky Hu­man Rights Ac­count­abil­ity Act, the pres­i­dent can block or re­voke the visas of cer­tain for­eign in­di­vid­u­als and en­ti­ties or im­pose prop­erty sanc­tions on them. The US govern­ment last im­posed sanc­tions on Myan­mar in 1997 when it was un­der a mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship. Fol­low­ing a tran­si­tion to­wards democ­racy, the mea­sures were lifted in October 2016 by then Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. Ben­jamin Zawacki, an in­de­pen­dent Southeast Asia an­a­lyst, said while the pro­posed sanc­tions are far more ap­pro­pri­ate, if im­posed, they come a month late. “Any pre­ven­ta­tive el­e­ment of th­ese sanc­tions has long passed its sell-by date,” he told Al Jazeera, speak­ing from Thai­land’s cap­i­tal, Bangkok. “The only thing left now is the puni­tive el­e­ment, and it re­mains to be seen whether they will be felt as such by th­ese gen­er­als that have been tar­geted.” The US also an­nounced that it is with­draw­ing mil­i­tary as­sis­tance to Myan­mar of­fi­cers and units op­er­at­ing in north­ern Rakhine. Zawacki sug­gested that an arms em­bargo would be ef­fec­tive against the mil­i­tary. “If there is, in fact, no puni­tive ef­fect on th­ese gen­er­als, they [sanc­tions] need to be strength­ened and widened by way of mil­i­tary force pro­jec­tion,” he said. Last week, Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son said that the US holds Myan­mar’s mil­i­tary lead­er­ship re­spon­si­ble for its harsh crack­down of the Ro­hingya. The UN de­scribes the Ro­hingya as the world’s most per­se­cuted peo­ple. The mi­nor­ity group has suf­fered years of dis­crim­i­na­tion and have been de­nied cit­i­zen­ship in Myan­mar since 1982. In Mon­day’s state­ment, the US urged the safe and vol­un­tary re­turn of those who have fled or been dis­placed in Rakhine, as well as a “cred­i­ble path to cit­i­zen­ship”.

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