Switzerland Joins EU in Sanctioning Myanmar’s Military Generals

By The Irrawaddy 18 October 2018

YANGON—Switzerland has imposed an asset freeze and travel ban (entry and transit) on seven high-ranking members of Myanmar’s military and security forces for human rights violations committed in the country.

The bans see Switzerland aligning itself with the sanctions against the Myanmar military adopted by the European Union in April and June this year.

Switzerland’s Federal Council said the ban came into effect on Wednesday but didn’t mention the names of the seven individuals. It’s likely, however, that they are the same seven as those listed in the sanctions imposed by the EU in June: Deputy Maj-Gen Aung Kyaw Zaw, Maj-Gen Maung Maung Soe, Brig-Gen Than OoBrig-Gen Aung Aung, Brig-Gen Khin Maung Soecommander of the Border Guard Police Brig-Gen Thura San Lwinand the commander of the Eighth Security Police Battalion Thant Zin OoAll were accused of atrocities against the Rohingya by the EU as well as rights group like Amnesty International. 

Apart from the asset freeze and travel ban, the Swiss ban also targets the sale, supply, export and transit of dual-use goods to military end users and to military and border guard police end users in Myanmar as well as equipment, technology and software that can be used to monitor communications (internet, telephone) in addition to the existing embargo on arms and equipment that can be used for internal repression.

“The Federal Council condemns the ongoing widespread, systematic, grave human rights violations committed by Myanmar’s military and security forces, and is deeply concerned by the deteriorating human rights situation,” said the council in their statement.

The EU extended its arms embargo on Myanmar for another year, accusing Myanmar of “serious and systemic” human rights violations in military operations in the country’s northwest last year that sent nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh.

Despite its bans on the military, the Federal Council reaffirmed that Switzerland’s support for peace, democracy and socio-economic development in Myanmar will continue.

Meanwhile, the EU is considering trade sanctions on Myanmar over the Rohingya crisis which would mainly affect the country’s garment industry and major exports to the EU. The move has received criticism, however, by those who say the sanctions would potentially put nearly 450,000 jobs in the country at risk.