US contemplates sanctions against Myanmar over Rohingya crisis

US contemplates sanctions against Myanmar over Rohingya crisis 

Rohingya children play on top of a hill near Balukhali camp, Ukhiya, Coxsbazar, Bangladesh, Oct. 10, 2017. EPA-EFE/FILE/ABIR ABDULLAH

Washington DC, Oct 23 (efe-epa).- The United States is considering sanctions against Myanmar, particularly against its military, over the spiraling Rohingya crisis, a State Department statement said Monday.

The statement expressed concern over the ongoing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state that has led hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas to flee to Bangladesh since late August.

“We express our gravest concern with recent events in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and the violent, traumatic abuses Rohingya and other communities have endured,” the statement said.

“It is imperative that any individuals or entities responsible for atrocities, including non-state actors and vigilantes, be held accountable,” it added.

Around 600,000 Rohingyas, whom Myanmar does not recognize as citizens, have fled to Bangladesh since Aug. 25, when the army launched a military offensive in the region in response to a series of attacks on government posts by Rohingya rebels.

In Monday’s statement, the US said it is considering activating the Global Magnitsky Act that includes suspension of visa and other sanctions on those responsible for human rights violations anywhere in the world.

Meanwhile, the State Department has already withdrawn US aid to Burmese military units in Rakhine, suspended visa exemptions for Burmese top generals and former members and revoked invitations to Burmese army commanders to participate in activities in the US.

The United States is also “consulting with allies and partners on accountability options at the UN, the UN Human Rights Council, and other appropriate venues,” added the statement.

Earlier in 2017 and weeks before he left office, US President Barack Obama lifted government sanctions against Myanmar citing substantial improvement in the human rights situation in the country.