Top Myanmar Generals Are Barred From Entering U.S. Over Rohingya Killings

BANGKOK — The United States has imposed sanctions on Myanmar’s top military commander, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, and three of his highest-ranking generals for their roles in the atrocities carried out against Rohingya Muslims since 2017, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced.

The four generals and their immediate family members will be barred from entering the United States, Mr. Pompeo said on Tuesday. “With this announcement, the United States is the first government to publicly take action with respect to the most senior leadership of the Burmese military,” he said in a statement.

Two years ago, brutal attacks by the military and Buddhist mobs in Rakhine State in western Myanmar, which included murder, rape and arson, forced more than 700,000 members of the Rohingya ethnic minority to flee across the border into Bangladesh, where they have been living ever since in squalid refugee camps.

The United Nations has labeled the attacks genocide, saying that General Min Aung Hlaing and other top generals should face trial in an international court. But until now, no action has been taken against them.

The State Department imposed the travel ban because it could do so unilaterally, and because it was a way to hold the individual generals accountable for the atrocities, senior officials at the department said.

But Myanmar’s reclusive military leaders have not been known to travel to the United States, and a spokesman for the military said Wednesday that the ban would have little practical effect.

“It doesn’t matter that they banned travel to the United States for the generals,” said the spokesman, Brig. Gen. Zaw Min Tun. “But it does insult the Myanmar military’s dignity.”

The military has ruled Myanmar, also known as Burma, since it gained independence from Britain in 1948, and it has waged war almost continuously against dozens of ethnic groups.

Under the 2008 Constitution drafted by the military, the senior general is Myanmar’s most powerful person and reports to no civilian authority. He controls the armed forces, the police, the border guards, two military business conglomerates and a quarter of the members of Parliament, enough to block any constitutional change.

A civilian government led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, oversees social programs such as education and health care, but it has no control over the military.

General Min Aung Hlaing, a career army officer who rose through the ranks, became known for attacks on ethnic groups in various parts of Myanmar, which drove tens of thousands of people from their homes. As commander in chief since 2011, he has proved adept at using social media to build public support for the military, known as the Tatmadaw. He is seen as a strong candidate to become president next year.

Last year, Facebook removed his account along with hundreds of others because of his role in enabling serious human rights abuses.

Mr. Pompeo noted that General Min Aung Hlaing had ordered the release of soldiers convicted of participating in a massacre of Rohingyas after they had served only a few months in prison — far less time than the 16 months that two reporters for Reuters, U Wa Lone and U Kyaw Soe Oo, spent behind bars for exposing that massacre.

Mr. Pompeo called that an “egregious example of the continued and severe lack of accountability for the military and its senior leadership.”

Besides Myanmar’s top commander, the travel sanctions were also imposed on the deputy commander in chief, Soe Win; Brig. Gen. Than Oo; and Brig. Gen. Aung Aung, along with their family members. Mr. Pompeo said they were chosen “based on credible information of these commanders’ involvement in gross violations of human rights.”

State Department officials said the four generals, and two generals sanctioned earlier, were cited by a United Nations fact-finding mission as having had considerable command responsibility for the slaughter of the Rohingya.

“We remain concerned that the Burmese government has taken no actions to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, and there are continued reports of the Burmese military committing human rights violations and abuses throughout the country,” Mr. Pompeo said.


more recommended stories

  • Putting a Positive Spin on Oil Exploration in the Arctic Refuge

    When the Trump administration first pushed.

  • On Politics: Trump Returns to N.R.A.’s Side

    Gun rights advocates have waged an.

  • President Trump Cancels Trip to Denmark After Greenland Spat

    WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday.

  • Why the 2020 Criminal Justice Debate Is Completely Different

    Marijuana would be decriminalized, mass incarceration.

  • As Wildfires Get Worse, Insurers Pull Back From Riskiest Areas

    “It’s not necessarily the property that’s.

  • Julián Castro Qualifies for the Next Democratic Debate

    The former housing secretary Julián Castro.

  • Trump’s Rollback of Auto Pollution Rules Shows Signs of Disarray

    That means the process is now.

  • On Politics: Trump Prepares for Economic Trouble

    • Justice Department lawyers told the.

  • Jill Biden, Stressing Trump Matchup, Makes a Blunt Case for Her Husband

    Jill Biden laid out the political.

  • Apologies and Scorn Greet News of a Book by Mark Halperin

    Reports of a new book deal.

  • ‘I Am Sorry for Harm I Have Caused,’ Warren Tells Native American Forum – Video

    Channels & Shows Home Search U.S..

  • Elizabeth Warren to Appear at Native American Forum

    SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Senator Elizabeth.

  • ‘I Can Still Smell Him’: For 4 Legislators, This Law Is Personal

    Yuh-Line Niou told no one for.

  • On Politics: Trump’s Economic Conspiracy

    As the economy shows ominous signs,.

  • In Economic Warning Signals, Trump Sees Signs of a Conspiracy

    And signs of damage from Mr..

  • Julián Castro’s Obama Moment – The New York Times

    Mr. Castro divided his remarks into.

  • After Trump Body Shames Him, Supporter Says ‘I Love the Guy’

    Sometimes the self-declared greatest counterpuncher in.

  • U.S. Can Block Migrants Seeking Asylum, but Only in Some States, Appeals Court Rules

    A federal appeals court said Friday.

  • House Panel Will End Recess Early for Gun Safety Votes

    WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee,.

  • Lawmakers Accuse State Dept. of Defying Federal Law by Missing Deadlines for Yemen Reports

    WASHINGTON — In defiance of federal.

  • Debate Flares Over Afghanistan as Trump Considers Troop Withdrawal

    Skeptics say it is naïve to.

  • Trump’s Pittsburgh Speech Was a Paying Gig for Audience

    Thousands of union workers at a.

  • How Stephen Miller Rode an Anti-Immigration Wave to the White House

    Once a lonely cause, restrictionism had.

  • Israel’s Alliance With Trump Creates New Tensions Among American Jews

    A rabbi in St. Louis Park,.

  • In D.C., Trading Politics for a Paddle

    We launched into the Potomac River.

  • Joseph Kennedy III Said to Be Eying Edward Markey’s Massachusetts Senate Seat

    Mr. Kennedy delivered the Democratic response.

  • Eyeing Greenland, Trump Again Mixes Real Estate With Diplomacy

    WASHINGTON — Go ahead and file.

  • Peace Road Map for Afghanistan Will Let Taliban Negotiate Women’s Rights

    WASHINGTON — Roya Rahmani is neither.

  • After Trump Body Shames Him, Supporter Says ‘I Love the Guy’

    Sometimes the self-declared greatest counterpuncher in.

  • Fact-Checking Trump’s New Hampshire Rally

    What Trump Said “We have incredible.

  • Israel Says Rashida Tlaib Can Visit to See Her Grandmother

    This is a developing story. Please.

  • On Politics: Israel Denies Entry to Congresswomen

    • Despite ringing declarations of support.