BRUSSELS—The European Union will extend its arms embargo on Burma for another year this week and may then move to target more Yangon generals with fresh sanctions, EU diplomats and officials said.
Burma has been accused by the United Nations, EU and United States of serious human rights violations and ethnic cleansing following a military operation in the country’s northwest last year that sent nearly 700,000 Rohingya fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh. It was triggered by an attack on 30 government posts across the Rakhine state by insurgents of the Muslim Rohingya minority under the banner of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). Yangon rejects these accusations.
The EU arms embargo is now in place until the end of April and the diplomats and officials said it would be extended for another year before that deadline expires.
It will also be expanded to cover already limited training for the Burmese military, they said.
Last October, the EU decided to shun Burmese generals over the operation in Rakhine state.
The U.S. government is now conducting an intensive examination of alleged atrocities against the Rohingya that could be used to prosecute Burma’s military for crimes against humanity, officials told Reuters.
EU sources said the bloc might slap visa bans and asset freezes on more Burmese military figures in May or June, with Major General Maung Maung Soe being one name on the list.
Last December, the United States levied sanctions on the man who had been in charge of the crackdown on the Rohingya minority in Rakhine.
Canada followed suit in February when Reuters also reported on what had taken place in the village of Inn Din, where 10 Rohingya men and boys were hacked to death by Rakhine Buddhist villagers or shot by security force members.
The killings were part of the larger army crackdown on the Rohingya. Two Reuters journalists were jailed while reporting the story and remain in prison in Yangon, where they face up to 14 years in jail for violating Burma’s Official Secrets Act.
The EU is considering six other members of the military as well, the diplomats and officials said, though that has not yet been discussed by all 28 member states who must reach a unanimous decision to introduce sanctions.
The West has been more critical of Burma since the August 2017 crackdown in the Rohingya despite the Southeast Asian country making a partial shift to democratic governance in recent years.
By Gabriela Baczynska