President Joe Biden speaks about the situation in Myanmar in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, February 10, 2021.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced that he will impose immediate sanctions against military leaders in Myanmar who directed a coup that led to the detention of the nation’s democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, among others.
Biden also called on Myanmar’s military to relinquish power and release prisoners seized in the coup.
“We will identify a first round of targets this week, and we’re also going to impose strong exports controls,” Biden said in announcing two new executive orders authorizing the sanctions.
“We’re freezing U.S. assets that benefit the Burmese government, while maintaining our support for health care, civil society groups and other areas that benefit the people of Burma directly,” the president said.
Biden last week had condemned the military takeover of the civilian-led government, calling it “a direct assault on the country’s transition to democracy and rule of law.”
The Nobel laureate Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won Myanmar’s election in a landslide last November.
But the generals behind the coup have claimed that the election was fraudulent.
Myanmar citizens, including including monks and nurses, took to the streets in protest of the coup, draped in the red color of the NLD party.
In response, the military banned rallies and gatherings of more than five people, along with motorized processions, and imposed a 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew for Yangon and Mandalay, the country’s first- and second-biggest cities.
The military also banned citizens’ use of the social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and Instagram “until further notice.”
The U.S. formally eased prior sanctions against Myanmar in 2012 to allow American dollars to enter the country, withholding certain investments in Myanmar’s armed forces and its Ministry of Defense
But a clause in the move included the ability to bolster sanctions on “those who undermine the reform process and engage in human rights abuses.”
On Tuesday, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said, “We repeat our calls for the military to relinquish power, restore the democratically elected government, release those detained and lift all telecommunication restrictions and to refrain from violence.”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby last week said, “We certainly have viewed with great alarm what has happened in Burma, but I don’t see a U.S. military role right now.
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