Tillerson: US considering targeted sanctions on individuals in Myanmar

Tillerson: US considering targeted sanctions on individuals in Myanmar
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Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonMueller's end: A conclusion on collusion, but confusion on obstruction  Pompeo jokes he'll be secretary of State until Trump 'tweets me out of office' Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN ambassador job MORE said on Wednesday that the U.S. will consider targeted sanctions on individuals found to be responsible for atrocities committed against the Muslim Rohingyas in Myanmar.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Tillerson said the U.S. was concerned about "credible reports" of violence toward the Rohingya by Myanmar's military, and called for an independent investigation into the matter.

“All of that has to be evidence-based,” Tillerson said. “If we have credible information that we believe to be very reliable that certain individuals were responsible for certain acts that we find unacceptable, then targeted sanctions on individuals very well may be appropriate.”

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The secretary of State, however, said he would not recommend broad sanctions on the entire country.

Tillerson's visit to the country came amid a humanitarian crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where the military has allegedly conducted a brutal crackdown on the Rohingya, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.

Several countries and the United Nations secretary general have called the violence against the Rohingya ethnic cleansing, and the Trump administration is said to be considering whether to label it as such.

If the State Department were to adopt the terminology for the situation in Rakhine, it would increase pressure on the U.S. government to implement new sanctions on Myanmar, which has moved toward a democratic civilian government in recent years after decades of military rule.

Myanmar's military still retains significant power in the country, separate from the civilian government.

The Rohingya have long faced persecution in Myanmar, where much of the country's majority-Buddhist population views them as being in the country illegally, despite the fact that many have lived in Myanmar for generations.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace laureate, has come under fire for the crisis, with critics saying that the well-known civilian leader has said and done little to address the situation.

“I haven’t been silent,” she said. “What people mean is what I say is not interesting enough. But what I say is not meant to be exciting. It’s meant to be accurate. And it’s aimed at creating more harmony and a better future for everybody. Not setting people against each other.”