KUALA LUMPUR — The U.N. special rapporteur for Myanmar said Thursday the U.S. didn’t “go far enough” in sanctions against four top Myanmar generals over the mass killings of minority Rohingya Muslims.
Myanmar’s commander in chief and his deputy, two other generals, and their immediate families have been banned from traveling to the U.S. On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the four were responsible for “gross human rights violations” involving extrajudicial killings in an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state.
U.N. envoy Yanghee Lee said the U.S. move was “better late than never” but was inadequate. She said a U.N. fact-finding mission had earlier identified six Myanmar generals, including the four men, who should be sanctioned. The U.S. should also ban the other two and their assets should be seized, she said.
“It doesn’t go far enough. It should go further and the perimeters of the sanctions should go further,” she said. “Freeze all their assets and the assets of their families too.”
The four men are: Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, his deputy Soe Win, and two subordinates deemed responsible for the abuses.
Myanmar’s military has been accused of widespread rights violations leading about 700,000 Rohingya to flee the country since August 2017. Critics have urged that its actions be judged by the International Criminal Court.
Lee, who has been barred from entering Myanmar, said Yangon appeared to be increasing pressure on regional governments to prevent her from carrying out her duties and avoid international scrutiny. She said she had to abort part of her trip to Thailand “due to interference” but declined to give details. Her office earlier said she was visiting Thailand and Malaysia from July 8-18.
Lee also slammed Singapore for deporting six Myanmar nationals who were allegedly supporters of the Arakan Army. She said the six were arrested upon their return and were now being held incommunicado.
She said Myanmar’s move last month to shutdown mobile internet in nine townships has made it challenging to get information on the ground. She said she has been told that three villages in Rakhine have been burnt down by the military in the past two weeks.
The internet blackout also meant that people in several townships couldn’t receive warnings of impending floods in the current monsoon season, resulting in displacement and houses being destroyed, she said.
Lee urged the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to make the crisis in Myanmar a top priority as there are nearly 1.5 million Myanmar refugees in the region, and rampant human trafficking.
She said she has little confidence in Myanmar’s plan to send a high-level delegation to Bangladesh to meet Rohingyas in camps there regarding the repatriation and resettlement scheme.
“The situation of human rights in Myanmar is increasingly of serious regional concern and when states in this region engage with Myanmar, this issue should be firmly on the agenda,” she added.