As we approach the second anniversary of the Burmese military offensive against the Rohingya on 25th August 2017, in which thousands were killed and 700,000 fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, Burma Campaign UK today called on the British government, EU, USA and other governments to start implementing the recommendations on the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar. To date not a single government anywhere in the world has done so.
The United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar was created by the United Nations Human Rights Council to establish the facts of what has been taking place in Rakhine State against the Rohingya, and in Kachin and Shan States. In a report published 18th September 2018, it concluded that the Burmese military were responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and made a series of recommendations, including referring the situation in Burma to the International Criminal Court.
The Mission also called for a UN mandated global arms embargo, targeted sanctions on military companies, and a review of support for the 2020 election in Burma, if the Rohingya continue to be disenfranchised.
To date, rather than take these measures, the few governments which have taken any action have mostly only introduced bans on a small number of military personnel taking holidays in their countries.
The USA has banned military commanders including Min Aung Hlaing, head of the Burmese military, from holidaying in the USA. The EU has banned 14 military and security personnel from holidaying in the EU, but have not included Min Aung Hlaing in that holiday ban.
“We do not believe that banning members of the military from taking holidays in certain countries is a proportionate and adequate response to the crime of genocide,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “The holiday ban is pretty much the only practical measure targeting the military taken so far by the international community. The weak international response will encourage the sense of impunity the military have, and lead to further human rights violations.”
Burma Campaign UK is not aware of a single country publicly on record as supporting a UN mandated global arms embargo.
The European Union considered and rejected a proposal to stop European companies doing business with military-owned companies. On 20th August, Burma Campaign UK published an updated version of its ‘Dirty List’ of companies linked to Burma’s military. It is available here: https://burmacampaign.org.uk/take-action/dirty-list/
“The current British government and EU position makes little sense,” said Mark Farmaner. “They support an EU arms embargo but not a worldwide arms embargo. They won’t sell guns to the military but are happy for British and European companies to do business with the military so they can make money to buy guns from other countries. The UN Fact-Finding Mission has made clear and practical recommendations and it is time that the British government and other acted on them.”