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Lazum Kam Hpang, a veteran observer of Burmese politics, sees little downside to US moves to pressure Burma’s generals on human rights abuses.

A decision by the US State Department last week to impose new sanctions on four of Burma’s top generals will hurt them without harming the rest of the country, according to political analyst Lazum Kam Hpang.

Speaking to KNG during a recent visit to Chiang Mai, Thailand, the veteran Kachin political observer said that the move is aimed directly at its targets—the Burma Army’s commander-in-chief Snr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, deputy commander-in-chief Vice-Snr. Gen. Soe Win, Maj. Gen. Than Oo and Maj. Gen. Aung Aung—and presents little risk of collateral damage.

Besides these four individuals, the only ones who will feel any real impact from the move are members of their immediate families and army-operated conglomerates, he said.

“Well, the sanctions will also hit the Burma Army’s Myanmar Economic Holdings Co., Ltd. It will hurt Burma’s military generals, their families, and their business projects in countries allied to the US. It will also hit their children if their children are studying in the US. Therefore, the sanctions will hit the target. It will be tough for Burma’s military generals,” he said.

The new sanctions were imposed last Tuesday under Section 7031(c) of the FY 2019 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Act. They are in response to “Gross human rights violations, including in extrajudicial killings in northern Rakhine State, Burma, during the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya,” according to the State Department website.

According to Lazum Kam Hpang, Burma’s military leaders now need to consider what they have done to deserve this censure, because the sanctions will also hit their family members.

“If the Burma Army’s leaders confess their wrongdoings and apologize for them, and also open up for other stakeholders to participate in building a united nation, then the situation will be good for them. If not, they will face a very hard situation,” Lazum Kam Hpang told KNG.

During a meeting with US President Donald Trump in the White House on July 17, Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson of the Kachin Baptist Convention thanked him for imposing the sanctions and called for US support to push for “genuine democracy and genuine federalism” in Burma.

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