The U.S. State Department has sanctioned four Myanmar military officials including its commander-in-chief for “gross human rights violations” against Rohingya Muslims in western Rakhine State, according to a statement published on Tuesday.
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said there had been a “severe lack of accountability” in what he termed the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya, citing the early release of soldiers responsible for the massacre of 10 Rohingya at Inn Din village in 2017.
Sanctioned officials are Myanmar Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, Deputy Commander-in-Chief Soe Win, Brigadier General Than Oo and Brigadier General Aung Aung.
Myanmar government spokesperson Zaw Htay did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“We remain concerned that the Burmese government has taken no actions to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, and there are continued reports of the Burmese military committing human rights violations and abuses throughout the country,” Pompeo said in the statement.
With the sanctions, Pompeo noted the U.S. is the first government to publicly take action against the military’s senior leadership. They are however just the latest in a string of condemnations against Myanmar’s military for its role in the extrajudicial killings of Rohingya Muslims that forced more than 700,000 people to flee across the border into Bangladesh.
Earlier this month, a prosecutor for the International Criminal Court formally requested judges to authorize an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity and “other inhumane acts” against the Rohingya.
United Nations investigators have also warned fresh human rights violations are being committed against civilians still in the area by Myanmar security forces.
By Philip J. Heijmans and Giovanna Bellotti Azevedo