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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Tillerson says target for Myanmar sanctions had been identified

The US secretary of state declared the violence against the Rohingya to be “ethnic cleansing” last month

Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar wait to be let through by Bangladeshi border guards after crossing the border in Palang Khali, Bangladesh October 16, 2017. REUTERS/ Zohra Bensemra
Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar wait to be let through by Bangladeshi border guards after crossing the border in Palang Khali, Bangladesh October 16, 2017. REUTERS/ Zohra Bensemra

The United States has identified one person it might impose sanctions on over the brutal crackdown in Myanmar against minority Rohingya Muslims and is examining others, according to US secretary of state Rex Tillerson on Friday.

Mr Tillerson declared the violence against the Rohingya to be “ethnic cleansing” last month, and has said Washington was considering “targeted sanctions” against those responsible.

More than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to southern Bangladesh since the end of August.

“We are continuing to examine the circumstances around all of the events since the August attacks that have led to the enormous migration of people out of Myanmar, and have already identified one individual and we are examining other possible individuals to hold responsible for targeted sanctions from the US,” Mr Tillerson told reporters at the United Nations.

US officials said that president Donald Trump’s administration is considering only limited action at this stage, preparing narrow, targeted sanctions against Myanmar's military and could roll out the punitive measures by the end of the year.

The sanctions will be aimed at increasing pressure on Myanmar authorities, but are not expected to hit the highest levels of the military leadership and will stop short of reimposing broad economic restrictions suspended under former president Barack Obama, according to the officials.

The limited nature of the new sanctions is expected to be seen as little more than a warning for Myanmar and are not likely to satisfy international human rights groups and some US lawmakers who have accused Myanmar’s armed forces of crimes against humanity.

Other world powers and the United Nations called the campaign against the Rohingya population “ethnic cleansing” well before the United States did so in late November.