US lawmakers for targeted sanctions on Myanmar army
More than 40 US lawmakers has called upon the Trump administration to reimpose travel bans on Myanmar military leaders and prepare targeted sanctions against those responsible for a crackdown on the country's Rohingya minority, reports Reuters.
In a letter sent to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a group of Republican and Democratic members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday called for "meaningful steps" against Myanmar's military and others who have committed human rights abuses in an offensive that has driven over half a million Rohingya Muslims out of the Southeast Asian nation.
"Burma's authorities appear to be in denial of what has happened," stated the letter. "We urge you to do everything possible to ensure protection and security for those trapped inside Burma or willing to return, as well as oppose forcible returns from neighboring countries."
Meanwhile, the European Union has made it clear that the suspension of visits by senior Myanmar military personnel is a "very specific measure" in reaction to the "disproportionate use of force" by the security forces in Rakhine, reports our diplomatic correspondent.
The EU's new Ambassador to Myanmar Kristian Schmidt, who presented his credentials to President U Htin Kyaw on October 17 in Nay Pyi Taw, told the media on Wednesday that the suspension of high level visits by senior Myanmar military personnel was a "very specific measure."
The EU foreign ministers at a meeting in Luxemburg on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution stating that the EU and its member states "will suspend invitations" to the commander-in-chief of the Myanmar armed forces and other senior military officers and will review all practical defence cooperation.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday said he held the military leadership in Myanmar responsible for the current refugee crisis affecting Rohingyas of that country.
On the same day, EU's new Ambassador to Bangladesh Rensje Teerink presented her credentials to President Abdul Hamid in Dhaka.
"It's a symbolic measure but I think it's an important one and a significant message to Myanmar," Teerink said in response to queries over the EU resolution.
During her interaction with diplomatic correspondents in Dhaka, she said the EU wanted to see Myanmar's response to appeals from the international community to resolve the crisis before taking any tough action like imposing economic embargo.
The EU foreign ministers' council also warned that it would consider "additional measures" like economic embargo if the situation did not improve in Rakhine.
Asked what kind of improvement the EU was expecting, Ambassador Schmidt said, "The most immediate priorities for the government is to ensure a cessation of all violence in northern Rakhine State and full access for all humanitarian aid workers."
Schmidt would not say what additional measures would be taken if there is no improvement. "This is not the time to speculate about what additional measures could be taken by the European Union if the situation does not improve."
As the EU's second largest development cooperation partner in Asia, Myanmar enjoys advantageous relations with it. It received €688 million in aid from 2014-2020, and has quota- and duty-free access to more than 500 million consumers in the European market.
STRANDED ROHINGYAS ENTERING BANGLADESH
Up to 15,000 more Rohingya refugees, who have been stranded near the Bangladesh-Myanmar border since early Monday, started entering Bangladesh yesterday morning after the authorities allowed them in through scrutiny.
UN officials on the ground told The Daily Star that nearly 7,000 forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals began long trek to the encampment.
The Bangladesh authorities initially kept the crowd waiting in paddy fields since their arrival as response teams prepared a place for them at Kutupalong.
DHAKA FOR PERMANENT SOLUTIONS
Masud Bin Momen, ambassador and permanent representative of Bangladesh to the UN in New York, has urged the UN Security Council (UNSC) to take combined and firm steps for permanent solutions to the humanitarian crises of displaced Rohigyas and Palestinians.
He made the call on Wednesday joining an open debate at the UNSC on the ongoing situation in the Middle East, including Palestine, according to a message received in Dhaka yesterday.
Ambassador Momen said, "We are realising the dreadfulness of the crisis through giving shelter and humanitarian assistance to a vast number of displaced Rohingyas who fled to Bangladesh to escape persecution in Myanmar.
"We expect combined and firm steps of the Security Council to make bilateral diplomatic efforts between Bangladesh and Myanmar a success to solve the crisis as the country has been tackling Rohingya crisis for the last three decades," the envoy told the UN.
He also stressed on consensus of the UNSC for peaceful, lawful and permanent solutions to those longstanding crises. "If it did not do so, those problems will create serious threat to global and regional peace and security," Momen warned.