Our Voices

Burmese Security Forces Sanctioned for Serious Human Rights Abuses

(Washington, D.C. | August 21, 2018) Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights welcomed new sanctions against Commanders and Units of the Burmese Security Forces who were responsible for perpetrating serious human rights abuses against ethnic minorities, including the Rohingya in Rakhine State. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) announced on Friday that they were instituting new sanctions against Burmese military commanders Aung Kyaw Zaw, Khin Maung Soe, Khin Hlaing, and Border Guard Police commander Thura San Lwin, along with the 33rd Light Infantry Division and the 99th Light Infantry Division. The sanctions were issued pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act of 2016 to target perpetrators of serious human rights abuses and corruption.

“When I was in Burma last month, there was a sense of complete impunity among the government officials I met with for the genocide they had perpetrated against the Rohingya in Rakhine State, and the for the ongoing military actions they were carrying out in Kachin and Shan States,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “The sanctions announced last week are a welcomed development, but they should be seen as the first in a series of steps that the United States and other governments must take to hold the perpetrators of these horrific crimes accountable. In the face of genocide, it is not enough to sanction four commanders and two military units.”

In addition to issuing sanctions against other members of the Burmese Security Forces responsible for Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is calling on the United States to push for the United Nations Security Council to refer these crimes to the International Criminal Court.

“The United States has leverage when it comes to Burma,” said Michael Posner, former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, and a member of the Board of Directors of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “When I was with Kerry in Burma last month it was clear that there was much more that the United States could be doing to hold perpetrators of these terrible crimes accountable, and I welcome these sanctions as an excellent first step.”