World

US considering sanctions against Myanmar

WASHINGTON The United States is taking steps and considering a range of further actions over Myanmar's treatment of its Rohingya Muslim minority, including targeted sanctions under its Global Magnitsky Act, the State Department said yesterday.

"We express our gravest concern with recent events in Myanmar's Rakhine state and the violent, traumatic abuses Rohingya and other communities have endured," it said in a statement.

It added: "It is imperative that any individuals or entities responsible for atrocities, including non-state actors and vigilantes, be held accountable."

Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar in large numbers since late August, when Rohingya insurgent attacks sparked a ferocious military response. Fleeing people accused security forces of arson, killings and rape.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last Wednesday that the US held Myanmar's military leadership responsible for its crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Mr Tillerson stopped short of saying whether the United States would take any action against Myanmar's military leaders over an offensive that has driven more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims out of the country, mostly to neighbouring Bangladesh.

ASEAN SUMMIT

The State Department made the announcement ahead of US President Donald Trump's maiden visit to the region early next month, when he will attend a summit of Asean countries, including Myanmar, in Manila.

It marked the strongest US response so far to the months-long Rohingya crisis but came short of applying the most drastic tools at Washington's disposal, such as reimposing broader economic sanctions suspended under the Obama administration.

Critics have accused the Trump administration of acting too slowly and timidly in response to the Rohingya crisis.

The State Department said on Monday: "We are exploring accountability mechanisms available under US law, including Global Magnitsky targeted sanctions." Measures already taken include ending travel waivers for current and former members of the military in Myanmar. - REUTERS

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