Australia’s government on Tuesday unveiled sanctions against five officers in Myanmar’s powerful military who are accused of overseeing barbaric violence against the Rohingya.
Following similar actions by the United States and the European Union, Australia announced it would freeze the assets of officers including a lieutenant general who commanded a special operations group believed to be behind atrocities.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the officers – Aung Kyaw Zaw, Maung Maung Soe, Aung Aung, Than Oo, and Khin Maung Soe – were “responsible for human rights violations committed by units under their command”.
The five, some of whom are since believed to have stepped down from their posts, will also be banned from travelling to Australia.
About 700,000 Rohingya have been driven from their homes in Rakhine state, in southwest Myanmar, since 2016.
The military campaign has been marked by numerous extrajudicial killings, mass rape, and the burning of villages by security forces.
A recent UN report accused Myanmar’s military of “genocidal intent” and called for its commander-in-chief and the five generals to be prosecuted under international law.
Myanmar has denied the allegations in the report, blaming Rohingya “terrorists” for most accounts of atrocities.
Australia previously provided training for Myanmar’s army and refrained from imposing sanctions, until Tuesday.
Financial dealings with the Myanmar military officers can now attract penalties of $1.2m for companies and 10 years in jail for individuals.
Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay did not pick up a call seeking comment.