The United States is considering sanctions against military leaders in Myanmar over the treatment of the country’s minority Rohingya population, the State Department said.
“We express our gravest concern with recent events in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and the violent, traumatic abuses Rohingya and other communities have endured,” spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement on Monday.
The State Department said some measures have already been taken, including the ending of travel waivers for military members and stopping U.S. military assistance to officers in Rakhine state.
Washington has also revoked invitations for senior Myanmar security personnel to attend U.S.-sponsored events, the State Department said.
Additional targeted sanctions could be levied under the Global Magnitsky law, which allows sanctions against violators of human rights.
Last week Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington holds the Myanmar military responsible for the violence against the Rohingya, a mostly Muslim minority population that has fled the country by the hundreds of thousands since a crackdown began in August.
Some 600,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh and India amid a weeks-long military campaign that began in late August. Rights groups estimate that more than 5,000 people might have been killed, most of whom are civilians, but Myanmar has not allowed international observers in to the most affected areas to asses the death toll.
The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that Tillerson may declare the campaign amounts to ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya.