Sanctions on Burmese Military Leader Must Be Expanded to Others Responsible for Crimes against the Rohingya

American Jewish World Service welcomes new sanctions but insists that the U.S. must do more to stop attacks against the Rohingya and achieve justice for them

NEW YORK, NY – “As the leading global Jewish human rights organization, which has been supporting advocates for the human rights of ethnic minorities in Burma since 2002, AJWS welcomes the U.S. State Department’s announcement today that it is imposing sanctions on one of the Burmese military leaders responsible for the horrific violence against the Rohingya people in Burma,” said Robert Bank, President and CEO of AJWS. “Sanctioning Maung Maung Soe, the former western commander responsible for the military in the Rakhine state, is a small but crucial first step in holding these perpetrators of atrocities against the Rohingya people accountable, and sending the clear message that the United States is serious about using diplomacy to promote the safety and dignity of the Rohingya people,” said Bank.

In his former role as chief of the Burmese Army’s Western command, Maung Maung Soe, still a general in the Burmese Army, oversaw the military operation in Burma’s Rakhine State responsible for widespread human rights abuses against Rohingya civilians that began on August 25th, 2017. However, given the widespread systematic nature of violence and destruction, we call upon the U.S. government to boldly use all available tools to pressure the Burmese military to cease its unconscionable campaign of violence and destruction against the Rohingya people. Additional sanctions should be imposed on other military actors who are guilty of perpetrating this horrific violence—in particular Burmese military commander Gen. Ming Aung Hlaing—and businesses owned by the military that finance its operations.

“We also call on the U.S. government to continue support for humanitarian aid to the Rohingya people in Bangladesh and to support investigations into crimes against humanity in Burma. The Burmese military has been carrying out these intensified and highly destructive attacks on the Rohingya people since August, and we cannot afford to delay action, as the Rohingya are suffering horrific crimes—including the burning of villages, the raping of women and girls and the massacre of Rohingya of every age. We must act urgently as the Rohingya still living in Burma have been confined to camps and ghettos, their rights have been violated and they have been denied access to humanitarian assistance. We insist that the U.S. call on Burmese authorities to allow international aid organizations, human rights monitors and independent journalists prompt and unfettered access to northern Rakhine State, where the remaining Rohingya communities in Burma are clustered.

“As Jews who understand all too well from our history what happens when the world community does not stand up unequivocally in defense of oppressed ethnic minorities, we call on the U.S. and others to act even more forcefully to stop the violence against the Rohingya people and achieve justice for them,” added Bank.




About American Jewish World Service (AJWS)

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) is the leading Jewish organization working to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world. AJWS promotes civil and political rights, advances sexual health and rights, defends land, water and climate justice and aids communities in the aftermath of disasters. We pursue lasting change by supporting grassroots and global human rights organizations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and by advocating for U.S. and international policies for justice and equality worldwide. Learn more at

About American Jewish World Service’s work in Burma

For more than 15 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.


For More Information

If you are a member of the press and wish to obtain information about our work or speak to a member of our global team on deadline, please contact Tanyanika Davis, Director of Media Relations, at