Leading Human Rights Group Applauds U.S. Treasury Department for Sanctioning Top Burmese Military Officials

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) says the United States is Taking an Important Step Toward Justice in Burma

Rori Kramer, Director of Government Affairs for American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the leading global Jewish human rights organization, issued the following statement as the U.S. Department of Treasury sanctioned top officials of Burma’s military:

“American Jewish World Service (AJWS) strongly supports today’s decision by the U.S. government to sanction the top four Burmese military officials, including the Commander-in-Chief of the military forces, for gross human rights abuses throughout the country, in particular in Rakhine state against the Rohingya people.

The four military officials—Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing; Deputy Commander-in-Chief Soe Win; Brigadier General Than Oo; and Brigadier General Aung Aung—were sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act, a law designed to hold to account perpetrators of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. These four are considered the main architects of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed against the Rohingya people. Earlier this year, the U.S. State Department preemptively announced that these four Burmese military officials and their immediate family members would be denied entry visas to the U.S. because of these atrocities.

Sanctioning the high command of the Burmese military is a crucial step in holding them and others responsible for the genocide against the Rohingya people and sending a clear message that the U.S. will not grant impunity to those abusing the human rights of ethnic minorities in Burma. However, these designations are not enough to ensure full justice and accountability for the Rohingya people and other ethnic minorities that have been targeted by the Burmese military.

The U.S. must back international justice mechanisms that are supported by the Rohingya people.   These measures are included in important Congressional legislation—the Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act (S.1186)—currently stalled before the U.S. Senate. The House of Representatives passed similar legislation this summer with a near-unanimous vote of support. We strongly urge the U.S. Senate to take up and pass this legislation without delay to show the Burmese military that the U.S government is unified in demanding accountability for this genocide.

Also, we urge the U.S. Treasury Department to impose sanctions against Burmese military-owned businesses, in order to cut off the financial ties that have allowed the Burmese military to consolidate power. And we call on the State Department to issue a legal determination on the crimes committed against the Rohingya people by the Burmese military and follow up with meaningful U.S. support for the Rohingya people on a global scale.

As the leading global Jewish organization supporting human rights in Burma, we remember our own history, which has taught us the horrors of facing genocide, expulsion and exclusion from society. We cannot stand by when other people suffer government-sanctioned brutality and persecution. When we say ‘never again,’ we mean no genocide, ever, against any people.”

About American Jewish World Service’s work in Burma

For more than 17 years, AJWS has supported the human rights of ethnic minorities in Burma, including the Rohingya people. AJWS provides direct financial support to more than 30 human rights organizations in Burma that have been working to advance the rights of minority ethnic groups and to create a truly pluralistic and democratic society. Please read more about our work in Burma here.

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