July 17 (UPI) -- The State Department announced that it sanctioned four senior Myanmar military officials for "gross human rights violations" committed against the Rohingya people.
In a statement on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the four individuals were responsible for human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, "during the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya."
According to a United Nations report, ethnic Rohingyas in Myanmar frequently experience extrajudicial executions; enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention; rape, sexual violence and sexual slavery and torture, among other forms of discrimination and persecution.
The U.N. report called for Myanmar's top military generals to be investigated and prosecuted for genocide and other war crimes.
The sanctions were applied to Myanmar's Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, Deputy Commander-in-Chief Soe Win, Brigadier General Than Oo and Brigadier General Aung Aung and prohibits them and their family members from entering the United States.
"We designated these individuals based on credible information of these commanders' involvement in gross violations of human rights," Pompeo said.
A senior State Department official told reporters in a teleconference that they believe the sanctions will stand as a "message to other Burmese officials that should they commit atrocities or other serious human rights abuses, there will be consequences under U.S. law."
He said the four officials named are well-known to the international community for committing human rights violations.
The sanctions follow a September 2018 report by the U.S. State Department that said, "the vast majority of Rohingya refugees experienced or directly witnessed extreme violence and the destruction of their homes" during two main phases of violence, one in 2016 and the other in 2017 while identifying the Myanmar military as the perpetrator.
"The Burmese military has a proper role to play as a national defense force," the senior State Department official said Tuesday. "However, under the command of Min Aung Hlaing, and often at his direct order, members of the Burmese military have committed appalling violations of human rights across the country."