EU countries on Monday demanded sanctions against senior Myanmar military officers over “serious and systematic” rights abuses against the country’s beleaguered Rohingya Muslim minority. A crackdown by security forces in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state has driven some 700,000 Rohingyas across the border into Bangladesh since last August, leading the UN to accuse the government of an ethnic cleansing campaign against the group, who face acute discrimination in the mainly Buddhist nation.
EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels said the situation in Myanmar was “extremely serious”, pointing to widespread abuses by the military, “including rape and killings”. The ministers tasked the bloc’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini with making “proposals for targeted restrictive measures against senior military officers of the Myanmar armed forces responsible for serious and systematic human rights violations without delay”.
They also called for an extension to the EU’s embargo on weapons and equipment that can be used for political repression, imposed in the 1990s. Blacklisting senior military officers freezing their EU assets and stopping them traveling to the bloc would be the toughest step taken so far by Brussels in its efforts to halt the Rohingya crisis and hold the perpetrators accountable.