We are determined to put human rights at the center of our foreign policy, and we reaffirm this commitment by using appropriate tools and authorities to draw attention to and promote accountability for human rights violations and abuses, no matter where they occur.
The United States appreciates the coordinated actions taken today by the United Kingdom and Canada under their respective sanctions programs to target Burmese military actors responsible for violence and repression. We also welcome the close coordination with the EU, UK, and Canada last week on our strongest sanctions package to date on Belarus, which jointly imposes costs on the Lukashenka regime for its continued repression of the Belarusian people. The United States looks forward to continuing our partnerships with allies, partners, and civil society alike in defending human rights and promoting accountability and good governance.
In further recognition of Human Rights Day 2021, the Department is designating 12 officials of foreign governments under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriation Act, 2021. This law provides that in cases where there is credible information that officials of foreign governments have been involved in a gross violation of human rights or significant corruption, those individuals and their immediate family members are to be designated publicly or privately and are ineligible for entry into the United States.
The Department of State is designating under Section 7031(c) the following individuals for their involvement in gross violations of human rights:
- Abel Kandiho, Major General and head of the Chieftancy of Military Intelligence within the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces, for his involvement in a gross violation of human rights, namely torture. Kandiho was also designated this week by the Department of the Treasury under the Global Magnitsky sanctions program in connection with serious human rights abuse.
- Shohrat Zakir, Erken Tuniyaz, Hu Lianhe, and Chen Mingguo, current and former senior PRC officials in Xinjiang, China for their involvement in gross violations of human rights, namely arbitrary detention of Uyghurs, who are predominantly Muslim, and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang. Shohrat Zakir and Erken Tuniyaz were also designated today by the Department of the Treasury under the Global Magnitsky sanctions program in connection with serious human rights abuse.
- Ihar Kenyukh and Yauheni Shapetska, heads of the notorious Akrestsina Detention Center in Minsk, Belarus, for their involvement in gross violations of human rights, namely the torture and/or cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees in the aftermath of the fraudulent August 9, 2020 presidential election.
- Benazir Ahmed, current Inspector General of the Bangladesh Police and former Director General of Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), and Miftah Uddin Ahmed, Lieutenant Colonel and former commanding officer of RAB Unit 7, for their involvement in a gross violation of human rights, namely the May 2018 extrajudicial killing of Teknaf City Municipal Councilor Ekramul Haque in Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar District, Bangladesh. The RAB, Benazir Ahmed, and five other officials were also designated today by the Department of the Treasury under the Global Magnitsky sanctions program in connection with serious human rights abuse.
- Chandana Hettiarachchi, a Sri Lankan naval intelligence officer, for his involvement in gross violations of human rights, namely, the flagrant denial of the right to liberty of at least eight “Trincomalee 11” victims, from 2008 to 2009. Sunil Ratnayake, a former Staff Sergeant in the Sri Lanka Army, for his involvement in gross violations of human rights, namely the extrajudicial killings of at least eight Tamil villagers in December 2000. The designation of these two Sri Lankan individuals is not the only action we are taking in support of accountability for gross violations of human rights in Sri Lanka.
- Mario Plutarco Marin Torres, a former governor of Puebla, Mexico, for his involvement in a gross violation of human rights in Mexico, namely, the arbitrary detention of journalist and human rights defender Lydia Cacho in December 2005. We commend Mexican authorities for arresting Marin Torres in February on torture charges.
Additionally, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control is imposing sanctions on 15 individuals and 10 entities including for roles in serious human rights abuse and repression across several countries. A complete list of the Department of Treasury’s additional actions can be found here https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy0526 . These designations underscore our support for human rights and commitment to promoting accountability for human rights abusers and violators the world over.