Australia strikes Burmese generals with sanctions over Rohingya crisis
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Australia strikes Burmese generals with sanctions over Rohingya crisis

AUSTRALIA has imposed sanctions and travel bans on five Burmese (Myanmar) generals said to be responsible for atrocities committed during the country’s crackdown on insurgents from the Rohingya Muslim minority last year.

On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Marise Payne issued a statement on the sanctions following Australia’s announcement that it would likely take action on the matter last month.

“I have now imposed targeted financial sanctions and travel bans against five Myanmar military officers responsible for human rights violations committed by units under their command,” she said, as quoted by ABC.

The sanctions against the generals are the latest in wake of the crisis that prompted 700,000 people from the marginalised Rohingya group to flee for refugee camps in neighbouring Bangladesh and several other Southeast Asian countries.

SEE ALSO: Burma president intervenes in case of three jailed journalists 

Previously, the European Union, and the United Kingdom and the United States had imposed similar sanctions and travel bans on the generals implicated in the ‘atrocities’ committed against the minority group.

However, two of those blacklisted by Australia are no longer serving in the military.

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Members of Burma’s military take part in a parade to mark the 73rd Armed Forces Day in the capital Naypyitaw, Burma March 27, 2018. Source: Reuters/Stringer

Bureau of Special Operations commander, Maung Maung Soe, was removed from his post in after the EU imposed the sanctions while the head of Western Command, Aung Kyaw Zaw, resigned in May.

The remaining three, Aung Aung, Than Oo and Khin Maung Soe, are still serving the military, also known as the Tatmadaw.

SEE ALSO: Malaysia wants Burma’s commanders probed for ‘atrocities’ against Rohingya 

Australia’s announcement did not include Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, but Facebook had taken down his official page in August following a UN report that accused the military of carrying out a systematic campaign that saw mass rapes and enforced disappearances.

While the sanctions against the generals was a welcome move for human rights campaigners, Diana Sayed, of Amnesty International Australia also called on Canberra to withdraw financial support for the Burmese military and impose similar sanctions on other individuals.

Last year, Australia allocated US$400,000 in military training budget for Burma, which Sayed says has put the country “out of step” with the rest of the world.

“We can’t be announcing sanctions and by the same token be engaging with the military through our defence department,” she was quoted as saying.