EU sanctions senior Myanmar military personnel over Rohingya abuses


An European flag flutters in the wind in front of the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: Stephanie Lecocq/EPA-EFE

The EU on Monday hit seven top Myanmar security officials with sanctions over the Rohingya crisis, accusing them of serious human rights violations including killings and sexual violence.

Some 700,000 members of the beleaguered Muslim minority have fled a military crackdown in the country's northern Rakhine state since August last year, a process the UN and major western powers have said amounts to "ethnic cleansing".

EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg hit five army generals, a border guard commander and a police commander with travel bans and asset freezes for their alleged role in the crisis.

"The individuals subject to sanctions are Myanmar/Burma army (Tatmadaw), border guard and police officials, listed because of their involvement in or association with atrocities and serious human rights violations committed against the Rohingya population in Rakhine State in the second half of 2017," the EU said in a statement.

"These violations include unlawful killings, sexual violence and the systematic burning of Rohingya houses and buildings."

After a period of thawing relations with Myanmar after the country's military junta ceded power in 2011, the Rohingya crisis has seen the EU take a harder line and blacklisting the officials is the toughest step taken so far by Brussels.

Britain, Myanmar's former colonial ruler which has taken the lead in preparing EU sanctions, said Monday's listing would send a signal to military top brass that the world was watching and those responsible for abuses would be held to account.

"These sanctions are a direct response to the appalling violence, including sexual violence, that took place in Rakhine last year. The individuals listed were responsible for units that have been identified as the perpetrators of this violence," junior foreign minister Mark Field said in a statement.

The following is an edited list of the details of the officials provided by the EU: 

1) Aung Kyaw Zaw
Date of birth: 20 August 1961

Lieutenant General Aung Kyaw Zaw was the Commander of the Bureau of Special Operations No. 3 of the Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) from August 2015 to the end of 2017. The Bureau of Special Operations No. 3 oversaw the Western Command. In this context, the EU alleges that Lieutenant General Aung Kyaw Zaw is responsible for the atrocities and serious human rights violations committed against Rohingya population in Rakhine State by the Western Command during that period. These include unlawful killings, sexual violence and systematic burning of Rohingya houses and buildings.

2) Maung Maung Soe
Date of birth: March 1964

Major General Maung Maung Soe was the Commander of the Western Command of the Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) from October 2016 to 10 November 2017 and oversaw the military operations in Rakhine State. In this context, the EU alleges that he is responsible for the atrocities and serious human rights violations committed against Rohingya population in Rakhine State by the Western Command during that period. These include unlawful killings, sexual violence and systematic burning of Rohingya houses and buildings.

3) Than Oo
Date of birth: 12 October 1973

Brigadier General Than Oo is the Commander of the 99th Light Infantry Division of the Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw).  In this context, the EU alleges that he is responsible for the atrocities and serious human rights violations committed against Rohingya population in Rakhine State in the second half of 2017 by the 99th Light Infantry Division. These include unlawful killings, sexual violence and systematic burning of Rohingya houses and buildings.

4) Aung Aung

Brigadier General Aung Aung is the Commander of the 33rd Light Infantry Division of the Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw).  In this context, the EU alleges that he is responsible for the atrocities and serious human rights violations committed against Rohingya population in Rakhine State in the second half of 2017 by the 33rd Light Infantry Division. These include unlawful killings, sexual violence and systematic burning of Rohingya houses and buildings.

5) Khin Maung Soe Major General

Khin Maung Soe is the Commander of the 15th Light Infantry Division of the Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw), under which Infantry Battalion No. 564. In this context, the EU alleges that he is responsible for the atrocities and serious human rights violations committed against Rohingya population in Rakhine State in the second half of 2017 by the 15th Light Infantry Division, in particular by Infantry Battalion No. 564. These include unlawful killings, sexual violence and systematic burning of Rohingya houses and buildings.

6) Thura San Lwin 
Date of birth: 1957

Brigadier General Thura San Lwin was the Commander of the Border Guard Police from October 2016 until early October 2017. In this context, the EU alleges that he is responsible for the atrocities and serious human rights violations committed against Rohingya population in Rakhine State by the Border Guard Police during that period. These include unlawful killings and systematic burning of Rohingya houses and buildings.

7) Thant Zin Oo

Thant Zin Oo is the Commander of the 8th Security Police Battalion. In this context, the EU alleges that he is responsible for the atrocities and serious human rights violations committed against Rohingya population in Rakhine State in the second half of 2017 by the 8th Security Police Battalion. The serious human rights violations include unlawful killings and systematic burning of Rohingya houses and buildings. Those violations were allegedly conducted in conjunction with and in direct support of the 33rd Light Infantry Division of the Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) led by Brigadier General Aung Aung. Thant Zin Oo is therefore associated with listed person, Brigadier General Aung Aung.

More Articles

....