BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union will extend its arms embargo on Myanmar for another year this week and may then move to target more Yangon generals with fresh sanctions, EU diplomats and officials said.
The EU accuses Myanmar of “serious and systemic” human rights violations in a military operation in the country’s northwest last year that sent nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh.
The EU arms embargo is now in place until the end of April and the diplomats and officials said it would be extended for another year before that deadline expires.
It will also be expanded to cover already limited training for the Myanmar military, they said.
Last October, the EU decided to shun Myanmar generals over the operation in Rakhine state, which the United Nations denounces as ethnic cleansing. Yangon rejects these accusations.
The U.S. government is now conducting an intensive examination of alleged atrocities against the Rohingya that could be used to prosecute Myanmar’s military for crimes against humanity, officials told Reuters.
EU sources said the bloc might slap visa bans and asset freezes on more Myanmar military figures in May or June, with Major General Maung Maung Soe being one name on the list.
Last December, the United States levied sanctions on the man who had been in charge of the crackdown on the Rohingya minority in Rakhine.
Canada followed suit in February when Reuters also reported on what had taken place in the village of Inn Din, where 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys were hacked to death by Rakhine Buddhist villagers or shot by security force members.
The killings were part of the larger army crackdown on the Rohingya. Two Reuters journalists were jailed while reporting the story and remain in prison in Yangon, where they face up to 14 years in jail for violating Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act.
The EU is considering six other members of the military as well, the diplomats and officials said, though that has not yet been discussed by all 28 member states who must reach a unanimous decision to introduce sanctions.
The West’s relations with Myanmar soured over the crackdown on the Rohingya despite the Southeast Asian country making a partial shift to democratic governance in recent years.