EU sanctions 7 Myanmar military officials for ‘unlawful killing’ of Rohingya

Major General Maung Maung Soe.

The EU Council passed sanctions yesterday against seven Myanmar security officials in response to their roles in the mass killing and displacement of Rohingya civilians in the months following a series of attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on police and military installations in northern Rakhine State in Aug. 2017.

The council’s decision holds the seven men responsible for “serious human rights violations, for obstructing the provision of humanitarian assistance to civilians in need and for obstructing the conduct of independent investigations into alleged serious human rights violations or abuses.”

The men are: Lieutenant General Aung Kyaw Zaw, commander of the Tatmadaw’s Bureau of Special Operations No. 3; Major General Maung Maung Soe, commander of the Tatmadaw’s Western Command; Brigadier General Than Oo, commander of the Tatmadaw’s 99th Light Infantry Division; Brigadier General Aung Aung, commander of the Tatmadaw’s 33rd Light Infantry Division; Major General Khin Maung Soe, commander of the Tatmadaw’s 5th Light Infantry Division; Brigadier General Thura San Lwin, commander of the Border Guard Police; and Thant Zin Oo, commander of the 8th Security Police Battalion.

All of them are accused of overseeing unlawful killings and systematic burning of Rohingya houses and buildings.

On the same day the sanctions were announced, the Tatmadaw announced that two of its targets – Major General Maung Maung Soe and Lieutenant General Aung Kyaw Zaw – no longer held their positions. A statement from the Office of the Commander-in-Chief said Major General Maung Maung Soe was fired on Monday for his “poor performance” in responding to attacks by the ARSA on police and military outposts in Oct. 2016 and Aug. 2017. It also said Lieutenant General Aung Kyaw Zaw resigned over a month ago for health reasons.

Major General Maung Maung Soe was previously hit by US sanctions in Dec. 2017. Last month, the US House of Representatives approved a bill that would allow further targeted sanctions against Myanmar military officials.

Under the new EU sanctions, the seven men will have their EU assets frozen and be banned from entering any EU member state.

Conspicuously missing from the sanctions list is Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who has repeatedly justified his subordinates’ actions against Rohingya civilians, claiming that the victims brought violence upon themselves by demanding citizenship.

He said during a speech in March: “The Bengalis do not have any characteristics or culture in common with the ethnicities of Myanmar. The tensions [in Rakhine State] were fueled because the Bengalis demanded citizenship.”

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