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Don't Slap Sanctions on Myanmar for Suu Kyi, but for the Rohingya

Armand Yazdani

Posted on February 22, 2021 22:54

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Although the toppling of the country's leader is disturbing news, the US and its allies mustn't forget about the Rohingya she and her government oppressed.

The Biden administration announced a wave of sanctions on Myanmar following a coup which ousted former leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Sanctions will primarily affect military leaders, freezing $1bn in assets. The new sanctions follow government clashes with protesters wherein a young woman was shot in the head, now in critical condition. Human rights groups and doctors at the protests believe live ammunition was used. But as violent as these protests have been, Myanmar's government even under its predecessor ruthlessly persecuted the Rohingya. If Biden wants to sanction Myanmar, he should condemn the country's treatment of the Rohingya, not just the coup.  

Myanmar's goal to ethnically cleanse the Rohingya Muslims is enough reason to sanction the country. This campaign of violence compelled more than 700,000 Rohingya to evacuate Myanmar, and many members of this predominantly Muslim minority are facing the worst outcomes within the country's borders. According to Human Rights Watch, about 500,000 Rohingya have been restricted to camps and villages with cruel regulations imposed upon them. Residents of this infernal Rakhine State are unable to access proper medical care, education and adequate food. Outside of those grueling conditions, Rohingya have also been subjected to village burnings, rape and mass killings, including the reported burnings of the Rakhine State, attested by both eyewitnesses and satellite images. Even though the tumultuous coup rocking Myanmar may be worthy of sanctions, the Biden Administration must not forget about the atrocities against the Rohingya. 

Many people are appalled that Suu Kyi has been toppled, but her government was apathetic if not largely responsible for the ethnic cleansing of the poor Rohingya. Suu Kyi, the daughter of Myanmar's founder, Aung San, was once lauded as a human rights icon, even garnering a Nobel Peace Prize award in 1991. But when  the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attacked Burmese troops in 2016 in the Rakhine State, Suu Kyi's army carried out massacres and village burnings against the Rohingya. Under her leadership, the 700,000 Rohingya were forced to evacuate Myanmar. Rather than condemn the military's cleansing of the Rohingya, Suu Kyi reminded that three of her cabinet officials were generals and were "very sweet." Furthermore, a UN investigation found that Suu Kyi failed to prevent or even mitigate the atrocities. She in fact contributed to the crisis in failing to condemn the generals responsible for it, according to the UN. 

Although Myanmar's military toppling of Suu Kyi has threatened the country's democracy, sanctions against Myanmar shouldn't be made because of her ousting. Both with and without Suu Kyi in power, the Myanmar military both dehumanized and tried to ethnically cleanse the Rohingya. Sanction shouldn't center on Suu Kyi only; they must address the many oppressed minorities in the country. 

Armand Yazdani

Posted on February 22, 2021 22:54

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Source: Upworthy

President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced that the United States will sanction Myanmar's military leaders after last week's...

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