Tatmadaw Slams EU Council’s Call for Sanctions over Rohingya

By The Irrawaddy 7 March 2018

YANGON — The Myanmar Army, or Tatmadaw, on Tuesday slammed the European Union Foreign Affairs Council’s recommendations announced late last month relating to the Rohingya issue, which included a call for sanctions.

In a statement released Tuesday, the council pushed Myanmar to allow a UN fact-finding mission and accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. It also recommended that the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs draw up targeted sanctions against the country’s senior military officers for human rights violations without delay.

The recommendations followed the council’s meeting with EU foreign affairs ministers on Feb. 26.

In a statement, the military’s information team claimed that the EU council’s recommendations were made in response to a letter submitted by 102 British lawmakers, led by Rushanara Ali, to the country’s foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, late last month.

The letter demanded that more pressure be exerted on Tatmadaw leaders — especially military chief Snr-Gen. Min Aung Hlaing — for their security operations against the Rohingya. It said the operations had been described as ethnic cleansing and possibly genocide by the UN, and called on the EU Foreign Affairs Council to convene a meeting to discuss the issue.

The military statement slams the recommendations as reflecting the one-sided accusations of “British MPs who turn a blind eye to the real situation” that “will badly impact the Tatmadaw’s implementation of rule of law process, state security and participation in the democracy transition in accord with the Rules of Engagement.”

It adds: “Those accusations may create misunderstanding among international and local organizations which have helped the country’s internal peace-building and peace-making process and general public.”

The release came after the deputy military chief, Vice Snr-Gen. Soe Win, met with the EU’s special representative for human rights, Stavros Limbrinidis, on Monday evening in Naypyitaw to discuss the Rakhine issue.

According to the UN, more than 688,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since the Tatmadaw began clearance operations in Rohingya-majority northern Rakhine State in August 2017. The operations were launched following attacks on government security forces by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army in the area.

Those who made it to camps on the Bangladeshi side reported being subject to arbitrary killings, rapes and torching of property by the Army. The UN labeled the actions as ethnic cleansing.

In December, the U.S. imposed sanctions against Major-General Maung Maung Soe for his alleged role in the Army’s abuse of Rohingya. Maj-Gen. Maung Maung Soe was in charge of the Western Command, which oversees Rakhine State, at the time the operation was launched.