International rights group Human Rights Watch said the UN Security Council and concerned countries should impose targeted sanctions and arms embargo on the Burmese military for their ethnic cleansing campaign against minority Rohingya in Rakhine state of the country.
‘The Security Council should urgently place a travel ban and asset freeze on those responsible for grave abuses and impose a comprehensive arms embargo against Burma, including prohibiting military cooperation and financial trans
actions with key military-owned enterprises,’ New York-based HRW said in a statement on Sunday evening (NY time).
‘Burmese security forces are committing ethnic cleansing against the Rohingyas and disregarding the condemnation of world leaders,’ John Sifton, HRW’s Asia advocacy director, said. ‘The time has come to impose tougher measures that Burma’s generals cannot ignore.’
As a first step, it said, among others, the Security Council should hold an open meeting to discuss council responses.
The council should invite UN Secretary-General António Guterres to brief on the crisis in Rakhine state, which the UN high commissioner for human rights has referred to as a ‘textbook example of ethnic cleansing.’
The council should also discuss measures to bring those responsible for serious abuses to justice, including before the International Criminal Court.
HRW said concerned governments should not wait for Security Council action to address the human rights and humanitarian crisis in Burma.
They should impose travel bans and asset freezes on security officials implicated in serious abuses, expand existing arms embargoes to include all military sales, assistance, cooperation, and place a ban on financial transactions with key Burmese military-owned enterprises.
World leaders gathering in New York for the opening of the UN General Assembly, HRW said, should make the crisis in Burma a priority and condemn the ongoing atrocities and obstruction of humanitarian aid to those desperately in need.
The US government should place the senior leadership of the Burmese military, notably commander-in-chief Sr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, on the US Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list, which cuts off access to US financial institutions, restricts travel to the US, and freezes US assets.
The European Union and its member countries should expand or impose similar targeted economic and travel sanctions, and extend the existing EU arms embargo against Burma to include all forms of military assistance.
Similar measures should be taken by other concerned governments, including Japan, Norway, South Korea, Canada, and Australia.
‘Burma’s senior military commanders are more likely to heed the calls of the international community if they are suffering real economic consequences,’ Sifton said. ‘It hits those responsible for ethnic cleansing where it hurts.’
The Security Council should also demand that Burma allow humanitarian aid agencies to access people in need, permit entry to a UN fact-finding mission mandated to investigate violations in the country, and ensure the safe and voluntary return of those displaced.
Burmese military forces have carried out mass arson, killing, and looting, destroying hundreds of villages since August 25, after alleged attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on security posts, forcing nearly half a million Rohingya to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.
Over 4,12,000 minority Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, fled violence and persecution during ‘security operations’ by Myanmar military in Rakhine to Bangladesh between August 25 and September 17, raising the total number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees in Bangladesh to over 8,30,000.
Human Rights Watch analysed a series of satellite images recorded between August 25 and September 16 that showed over 220 villages destroyed by fire in northern Rakhine State since the violence started.
The Burmese government alleged that ARSA fighters and Rohingya villagers were responsible for the buildings burned, but has so far failed to provide evidence of this claim.
Any ARSA commanders who are credibly implicated in serious abuses should also face sanctions.
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