The decision from Australia’s Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, to impose targeted financial sanctions and travel bans against five Myanmar military officers responsible for human rights violations committed by units under their command has been welcomed by the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) and the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) today.
The announcement comes one month after the UN Human Rights Council was presented with a major, 400-page report by an expert Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar which documented systematic use of rape, torture and murder by Myanmar security forces against the Rohingya population.
The members of the Fact-Finding Mission – which included Australia’s former human rights commissioner Chris Sidoti – recommended that Myanmar’s top military generals be investigated for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
ACFID and the HRLC delivered a joint statement to the Human Rights Council in response to the report and echoed the report’s call for the Australian Government to immediately sever its ties with Myanmar’s military and impose targeted sanctions on abusive military generals.
CEO of ACFID, Marc Purcell, said:
“This is a welcome step by the Australian Government. Myanmar’s Generals have presided over egregious human rights violations and must be held accountable for their actions. By joining Canada, the UK, US and EU in imposing sanctions, we are standing in solidarity against human rights violations.
“Australia must now end its defence cooperation with Myanmar’s military. We can’t afford to send a mixed message when it comes to human rights abuses.”
It is estimated that over 10,000 Rohingyas lost their lives in the months following violence which escalated in August 2017, and over 700,000 have since fled to Bangladesh.
Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, Daniel Webb, said:
“Imposing direct sanctions against abusive military generals is a really important step. The next step is for our Government to cut its ties with Myanmar’s military.
“The UN Fact Finding Mission recommended ending operational support for the Myanmar military - which it describes as having ‘contempt for human life’. The US, the UK and the EU have all taken steps to sever ties with the Myanmar military and the Australian Government should follow suit.
“If genocide is not cause for decisive and principled action, then what on earth is?”
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