The United States has banned Myanmar military’s commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing and other senior military leaders from travelling to the US for gross human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings in northern Rakhine State during the “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingyas.
“With this announcement, the United States is the first government to publicly take action with respect to the most senior leadership of the Burmese (Myanmar) military,” US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Department of State publicly designated the individuals Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, Deputy Commander-in-Chief Soe Win, Brigadier General Than Oo and Brigadier General Aung Aung; and their immediate family members for the named individuals’ responsibility for gross human rights violations and killings.
“We designated these individuals based on credible information of these commanders’ involvement in gross violations of human rights,” Secretary Pompeo said adding that the law requires him to publicly or privately designate such officials and their family members.
He said the Department of State is focused on policies that will change behavior and promote accountability. “We believe this action is one step toward achieving these goals.”
The US Secretary of State said they remain “concerned” that the Myanmar government has taken no actions to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuses.
He said there are continued reports of the Myanmar military committing human rights violations and abuses throughout the country.
“One egregious example of the continued and severe lack of accountability for the military and its senior leadership was the recent disclosure that Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing ordered the release of the soldiers convicted of the extrajudicial killings at Inn Din during the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya,” Secretary Pompeo said.
The Commander-in-Chief released these criminals after only months in prison, while the journalists who told the world about the killings in Inn Din were jailed for more than 500 days, he mentioned.
International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Dr Fatou Bensouda has recently requested the Court’s Judges to authorise an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed against the Rohingya people from Myanmar.
The outcome of this request is still pending and is before the Court’s judges.
A delegation from the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC headed by Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart is currently in Bangladesh on a weeklong visit.
“The delegation currently in Bangladesh will not engage in any evidence collection in relation to any alleged crimes,” reads a media advisory.
The purpose of this visit, in general terms, is to engage with relevant stakeholders and explain the judicial process and the status of the situation, it said.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda considers that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation in relation to the alleged deportation of members of the Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh and related crimes committed in the context of the 2016 and 2017 waves of violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar.
The ICC delegation members,who held meetings with Ministers and senior officials here, are scheduled to have an internal meeting on Thursday and leave for Cox’s Bazar on Friday afternoon.
They will visit Rohingya camps and hold a meeting with government authorities there on Saturday.
On Sunday, the ICC delegation members are scheduled to hold meetings with Cox’s Bazar DC, Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) and regional heads of Rapid action Battalion (Rab), BGB and acting superintendent of police in Cox’s Bazar.
They are scheduled to leave Dhaka on Monday (July 22).