Sanctions against Myanmar

A lesson for Suu Kyi

We are happy to note that in its latest move towards trial of Myanmar army generals, and its de facto President, Aung San Suu Kyi, the United Nations on Monday urged world leaders to impose sanctions on Myanmar.  Reportedly, a panel of human rights experts identified scores of companies tied to the army, that control Myanmar’s economy through holding firms and their subsidiaries, and is accused by the UN of executing a campaign with “genocidal intent” against the Rohingya minority. 

This may be mentioned that earlier, the US State Department announced sanctions against four Myanmar military generals, including the commander-in-chief, ‘for their roles in ethnic cleansing’ of Rohingyas. The sanctions were issued for their involvement in ‘gross violations of human rights, including extrajudicial killings, against the Rohingya’. However, this time UN has come up with a clear picture of the involvement of specific European and Asian companies, and makes a point that in fact there is this relationship and it is a violation of UN treaties and UN norms. 

Imposing sanctions on Myanmar army businesses will be 

a prudent move in terms of sending them the message 

that their crimes will not go unnoticed or unpunished

The decision of the UN to impose sanctions on Myanmar must be viewed in the context of the relentless conflicts in the country and most tragically in the border state of Rakhine, near Bangladesh. This is certainly an important step in terms of sending them the message that their crimes will not go unnoticed or unpunished.

More than 730,000 Rohingya, members of a persecuted Muslim minority, fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state into neighbouring Bangladesh amid a military-led crackdown in August 2017. An elected government, technically headed by Suu Kyi, has lamentably failed to address what the UN has called the "worst humanitarian crisis" since the Second World War.

With the UN now throwing in its weight, the international pressure on Myanmar will be too much to ignore, and it is crucial to keep the momentum going to see a resolution to this crisis, which Bangladesh has been handling with great finesse even though our own resources are at breaking point. It has long been clear that the only way to get proper action from Myanmar’s generals and their civilian enablers is to compel it, through prosecutions of the offenders by the International Criminal Court, through sanctions, travel bans or a freeze on assets.