The Myanmar military has fired one of the generals in command of an operation in Rakhine State, which saw more than 700,000 Rohingya flee across the country’s border into neighboring Bangladesh.
Known as the Tatmadaw, the military made the announcement in a statement just hours after the European Union imposed new sanctions on seven senior military officials, including the dismissed Major General Maung Maung Soe.
The seven were sanctioned “because of their involvement in or association with atrocities and serious human rights violations committed against the Rohingya population in Rakhine State in the second half of 2017,” the EU Council said in a statement.
“These violations include unlawful killings, sexual violence and the systematic burning of Rohingya houses and buildings.”
In April, the EU strengthened an arms embargo on Myanmar and prohibited the provision of military training and cooperation with the Tatmadaw, which is largely out of the control of Myanmar’s nominally civilian-led government.
Canada also imposed new sanctions on Myanmar military figures this week, in conjunction with the EU.
Top generals removed
In a statement Tuesday, the Tatmadaw said Major General Maung Maung Soe had been sacked for underperformance in responding to militant attacks, according to Reuters.
Maung Maung Soe was previously head of the Western Command, which oversaw the Rohingya crackdown, until he was transferred to another post in late 2017 without explanation.
He was one of five Tatmadaw figures sanctioned by the EU, as well as a border guard general and police commander, and was already subject to US sanctions based on his involvement in the crisis.
Another sanctioned figure, Deputy Major General Aung Kyaw Zaw of the third bureau of special operations, was “given permission to resign,” the military statement said, adding that there had been “some flaws” in his performance.
The statement did not mention the new sanctions, and Myanmar’s military has vehemently denied any wrongdoing against civilians in the Rakhine State, claiming it has been conducting a battle against terrorists that attacked border outposts last August.
In April, seven soldiers were imprisoned for their roles in the killing of 10 Rohingya men, after a mass grave was uncovered by Reuters journalists, who are themselves facing long jail terms under the country’s draconian Official Secrets Act.