The US today announced that it has initiated actions against Myanmar’s military leadership involved in violence against Rohingya Muslims that has triggered a grave humanitarian crisis in Bangladesh. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said that the US is in consultations with its friends and allies on the accountability options.
The US will continue to support Myanmar’s transition to democracy, as well as efforts to resolve the current crisis in Rakhine State, Nauert said in a statement.
“However, the Burmese Government, including its armed forces, must take immediate action to ensure peace and security; implement commitments to ensure humanitarian access to communities in desperate need; facilitate the safe and voluntary return of those who have fled or been displaced in Rakhine State,” she said.
More than 600,000 members of the minority Muslim group have fled across the border into Bangladesh in an intensifying crisis that began in late August.
Militant attacks on Myanmar security forces in Rakhine sparked a major army crackdown on the community.
The US expressed concern over recent events in Rakhine State and “the violent, traumatic abuses” Rohingya and other communities have endured.
“It is imperative that any individuals or entities responsible for atrocities, including non-state actors and vigilantes, be held accountable,” Nauert said.
“Accordingly, in addition to existing restrictions on its already-limited engagement with Burma’s armed forces and its long-standing embargo on all military sales, the United States is taking several actions in pursuit of accountability and an end to violence.”
Since August 25, the US has ceased consideration of travel waivers for current and former senior leadership of Myanmar’s military.
It is also assessing authorities under the JADE Act to consider economic options available to target individuals associated with atrocities, she said.
As per Leahy Law, the US Government find all units and officers involved in operations in northern Rakhine State to be ineligible to receive or participate in any US assistance programmes, she said.
The US has also rescinded invitations for Myanmar’s senior security forces to attend US-sponsored events.
“We are working with international partners to urge that Burma enables unhindered access to relevant areas for the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission, international humanitarian organizations, and media,” the spokesperson said.
“We are consulting with allies and partners on accountability options at the UN, the UN Human Rights Council, and other appropriate venues,” she added.
The US is also exploring accountability mechanisms available under US law, including Global Magnitsky targeted sanctions, Nauert said.