The Myanmar military on Monday said it had sacked a top Army officer who was named in new European Union sanctions against security officials accused of serious human rights violations against Rohingya Muslims. Another senior officer was allowed to resign “on health grounds”, a military statement said according to the Myanmar Times.
The Tatmadaw’s statement said Major General Maung Maung Soe, who is among seven military officers on the European Union’s list, was sacked on Monday. However, the military claimed that Maung Maung Soe was fired because of “poor performance” in managing “security plans” after attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army group in October 2016 and August 2017 in Rakhine state.
The statement said Lieutenant General Aung Kyaw Zaw, the highest ranking military officer the European Union had sanctioned, who was also responsible for overseeing security operations in Rakhine, was permitted to resign due to poor health in May.
The military’s statement came just hours after the imposition of EU sanctions. “He [Maung Maung Soe] is responsible for the atrocities and serious human rights violations committed against the Rohingya population in Rakhine State by the Western Command last year,” a European Union statement had said on Monday according to Reuters.
The other Myanmar military officers facing sanctions are Brigadier General Than Oo, commander of the 99th Light Infantry Division, Brigadier General Aung Aung, commander of the 33rd Light Infantry Division, and Major General Khin Maung Soe, head of the 15th Light Infantry Division. Two police officers – Brigadier General Thura San Lwin, chief of the Border Guard Police of Rakhine from October 2016 to October 2017, and U Thant Zin Oo, commander of the 8th Security Police Battalion, also faced sanctions, the Myanmar Times said.
Military action forced almost seven lakh Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh last year. The United Nations has used the term “ethnic cleansing” to describe the operations against the community, which included rapes, arson and massacres.