More US sanctions on Myanmar for rights abuses

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Rohingya refugees continue to make their way after crossing from Myanmar into Palang Khali, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, November 2, 2017. (REUTERS)
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Rohingya refugees queue at an aid relief distribution centre at the Balukhali refugee camp near Cox's Bazar on August 12, 2018. (AFP)
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Rohingya refugees gather water at the Nayapara refugee camp near Cox's Bazar on August 13, 2018. (AFP)
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A Rohingya refugee stands on a path in the Nayapara refugee camp near Cox's Bazar on August 13, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 19 August 2018

More US sanctions on Myanmar for rights abuses

  • The government refuses to recognize the Rohingya as a legitimate native ethnic minority and most Rohingya are denied citizenship and other rights
  • The Rohingya have long faced severe discrimination and were the target of violence in 2012 that killed hundreds and drove more than 140,000 people

WASHINGTON: The US Treasury on Friday slapped sanctions on members of the Myanmar security forces for their alleged role in violent campaigns against ethnic minorities across the troubled nation in Southeast Asia.
Myanmar security forces have engaged in ethnic cleansing, massacres, sexual assault, extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses, said Sigal Mandelker, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. “Treasury is sanctioning units and leaders overseeing this horrific behavior as part of a broader US government strategy to hold accountable those responsible for such wide-scale human suffering.”
The Trump administration earlier imposed sanctions on the chief of Myanmar’s western military command, but has faced pressure from human rights groups and lawmakers to impose more sanctions on those involved in a crackdown that began in August 2017 in western Rakhine State where 700,000 members of the Muslim Rohingya minority fled brutal army operations.
The Rohingya have long faced severe discrimination and were the target of violence in 2012 that killed hundreds and drove more than 140,000 people — predominantly Rohingya — from their homes to camps for the internally displaced, where most remained until last year’s violence.
The government refuses to recognize the Rohingya as a legitimate native ethnic minority and most Rohingya are denied citizenship and other rights. Myanmar, however, has staunchly denied that its security forces have targeted civilians in so-called clearance operations in Rakhine State on Myanmar’s west coast.
Friday’s action sanctions four commanders with the Myanmar military and border guard police plus two military units for their alleged involvement in ethnic cleaning in Rakhine and other human rights abuses in Burma’s Kachin and Shan states. Those sanctioned are: military commanders Aung Kyaw Zaw, Khin Maung Soe, Khin Hlaing and Thura San Lwin; and members of the 33rd and 99th light infantry divisions.
The sanctions block any property they own within US jurisdiction and prohibit US citizens from engaging in transactions with them.


UK destined for Brexit as election triumph looms for Johnson

Updated 58 min 46 sec ago

UK destined for Brexit as election triumph looms for Johnson

  • Conservatives on course to win 368 seats — exit poll
  • Could be biggest Conservative win since Thatcher in 1987

LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party was set for a resounding victory in Britain’s election, allowing him to deliver Brexit on Jan. 31 in what would be the country’s most significant geopolitical move in 70 years.
For Johnson, whose brief tenure in power has been marked by chaotic scenes in parliament and stark division on the streets over Britain’s tortuous departure from the European Union, the victory in Thursday’s contest is vindication.
Educated at the country’s most elite school and recognizable by his bombastic style, the 55-year-old must not only deliver Brexit but also convince Britons that the contentious divorce, which would lead to lengthy trade talks, is worth it.
A decisive Conservative win would mark the ultimate failure of opponents of Brexit who plotted to thwart a 2016 referendum vote through legislative combat in parliament and prompted some of the biggest protests in recent British history.
An exit poll showed the Conservatives winning a landslide 368 seats, more than enough for a comfortable majority in the 650-seat parliament and the biggest Conservative national election win since Margaret Thatcher’s 1987 triumph.
“I hope you enjoy a celebration tonight,” Johnson told supporters in an email. “With any luck, tomorrow we’ll be getting to work.”
If the exit poll is accurate and Johnson’s bet on a snap election has paid off, he will swiftly ratify the Brexit deal he struck with the EU so that the United Kingdom can leave on Jan. 31 — 10 months later than initially planned.
But nearly half a century after joining what has become the world’s largest trading bloc, Johnson faces the daunting challenge of building new relationships and preserving Britain’s place as a global trading hub.
Sterling surged more than 2% against the dollar and the euro on Thursday as traders piled into the pound. By 2225 GMT, the pound had rocketed as much as 2.5% to $1.3510 GBP=D3 — its biggest one day gain since January 2017.
Labour were forecast by the poll to win 191 seats, the worst result for the party since 1935. The Scottish National Party would win 55 seats and the Liberal Democrats 13, the poll said. The Brexit Party were not forecast to win any.
Official results will be declared over the next seven hours.
In the last five national elections, only one exit poll has got the outcome wrong — in 2015 when the poll predicted a hung parliament when in fact the Conservatives won a majority, taking 14 more seats than forecast.
The Labour Party, led by veteran campaigner Jeremy Corbyn, had offered a second referendum and the prospect of the most radical socialist government in British history.
Labour, if it is defeated by the margins shown in the exit poll, now faces a civil war between the socialists who control it and more moderate factions which will demand power.
John McDonnell, the second most powerful man in the Labour Party, said the election had been dominated by Brexit which has divided the country since 2016.
“What’s clearly come through I think in these results is that this was the Brexit election,” he said. “We were hoping a wider range of issues would cut though and have a debate, I don’t think that has been the case.”
A majority will allow Johnson to lead the United Kingdom out of the club it first joined in 1973. But Brexit is far from over. He faces the daunting task of negotiating a trade agreement with the EU, possibly in just 11 months.
The outcome of the negotiations will shape the future of Britain’s $2.7 trillion economy while Brexit could yet threaten the unity of the 312-year-old United Kingdom.
After Jan. 31, Britain will enter a transition period during which it will negotiate a new relationship with the remaining 27 EU states.
This can run until the end of December 2022 under the current rules, but the Conservatives made an election promise not to extend the transition period beyond the end of 2020.
A large majority could give him the political security to extend the trade talks beyond 2020 because he could overrule the Brexit hard-liner European Research Group (ERG) faction inside the party.
“The bigger the Tory majority of course the less influence over this the ERG and Euroskeptics will have,” said Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit Party. “It will be called Brexit but it won’t really be.”
Johnson called the first Christmas election since 1923 to break what he said was the paralysis of Britain’s political system after more than three years of crisis over how, when or even if to leave the European Union.
The face of the victorious “Leave” campaign in the 2016 referendum, Johnson fought the election under the slogan of “Get Brexit Done,” promising to end the deadlock and spend more on health, education and the police.
He was helped early in the election by Farage’s Brexit Party which stood down hundreds of candidates in a bid to prevent the pro-Brexit vote from being split. Early results showed the Brexit Party had poached a significant number of voters from Labour.
While Brexit framed the election, the slow-motion exit from the EU has variously fatigued, enthused and enraged voters while eroding loyalties to the two major parties.
The exit poll suggests Johnson’s strategy had breached Labour’s so-called “Red Wall” of seats across the Brexit-supporting areas of the Midlands and northern England where he cast his political opponents as the out-of-touch enemies of Brexit.
France’s European Affairs Minister Amelie de Montchalin said Europe would have clarity if the exit poll was accurate.
“The most important with Brexit is not the way we divorce, it’s what we build afterwards,” she told reporters in Brussels.