US adds Myanmar army chief

US adds Myanmar army chief to Magnitsky sanction list

Monitoring Desk

WASHINGTON: The U.S. Department of the Treasury on Tuesday designated four Myanmar officials, including the army chief, for human rights abuses in country’s Rakhine state.

The department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) released the list of Global Magnitsky Designations that sanctioned Commander-in-Chief of the military, Min Aung Hlaing, for his role in human rights abuse.

The list includes the military’s Deputy Commander-in-Chief Soe Win, Than Oo, a leader of the 99th Light Infantry Division (LID) and Aung Aung, a leader of the 33rd LID.

“The United States will not tolerate torture, kidnapping, sexual violence, murder, or brutality against innocent civilians,” said Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “America is the world leader in combatting human rights abuse and we will hold perpetrators and enablers accountable wherever they operate.”

The department said “Hlaing’s military forces were responsible for the brutal security operation that began in August 2017 in Rakhine State” as well as forcing hundreds of thousands people to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA). More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled “Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience.”

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

Meanwhile, Gambia on Tuesday formally started presenting its arguments in a genocide case against Myanmar at the International Case of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands on Tuesday.

The West African country has asked the ICJ for “provisional measures” to stop further violence against Rohingya, minority Muslim community in Myanmar.

Aboubacar Tambadou, Gambia’s attorney general and justice minister, is fighting the case for Rohingya,  Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi is present at the ICJ to defend the actions of her country’s army.

In his opening statement, Tambadou called on ICJ to direct Myanmar that it must “stop this genocide” of Rohingya Muslims. He quoted findings of UN Fact-Finding Mission to Rakhine state that was mostly populated by Rohingya Muslims.

“The state did not object and in fact endorsed the Tatmadaw’s (military) operations,” the Gambian team told the ICJ bench of jurists led by President Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012. Last month, Gambia filed a genocide lawsuit against Myanmar at the UN’s highest court, a move termed as “historic achievement” by Rohingya community.

The Gambian team also noted the use of hate speech in “fueling” violence against Rohingya. (AA)

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