(File) Myanmar military commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing salutes as he pays homage to late General Aung San and other leaders of the pre-independence Myanmar government during a ceremony marking the 71st Martyrs’ Day at the Martyrs’ Mausoleum in Yangon, Myanmar, 19 July 2018. Photo: Lynn Bo Bo/EPA
The United States on Tuesday banned visits by Myanmar’s army chief and three other top officers due to their role in alleged “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya minority, urging accountability for their brutal campaign.
The State Department said it took action against army chief Min Aung Hlaing and the others after finding credible evidence they were involved in the violence two years ago that led to about 740,000 Rohingya to flee across the border to Bangladesh.
“With this announcement, the United States is the first government to publicly take action with respect to the most senior leadership of the Burmese military,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
“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,” he said in a statement.
The sanctions are the most visible sign of US disappointment with Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, since it launched political reforms in 2011, with the military junta reconciling with Washington and eventually allowing an elected political leadership.
Also sanctioned were Deputy Commander-in-Chief Soe Win, Brigadier General Than Oo and Brigadier General Aung Aung as well as the families of all four officers.