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 he will impose sanctions on military leaders in Myanmar who directed the coup that deposed and detained its elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and others.
Biden also said the Myanmar’s “military must relinquish the power it seized” on Feb. 1 and release its prisoners.
“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 related to the sanctions.
The president said he will bar Burmese generals from getting access to $1 billion in Myanmar funds being held in the United States.
Biden also said, “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.”
And he called on the military to refrain from using violence, as it has, against protestors exercising their democratic rights to object to the coup.
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.”
State Department spokesman Ned Price later said, when asked about the sanctions, “We think that we can certainly impose substantial costs on those who are responsible for this.”
” We can impose costs that are …even steeper” than prior sanctions against Myanmar, Price said.
When asked by a reporter why Biden’s announcement did not include an international response to the coup, Price suggested that such a reaction is imminent.
“As you hear more from our partners, it’ll be very clear that what we are collectively rolling out, will impose steep and profound costs on those responsible for this coup,” Price said.
The Nobel laureate Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) had won Myanmar’s election in a landslide last November.
But the generals behind the coup have claimed that the election was fraudulent.
Myanmar citizens, wearing red clothes to match the NLD color, took to the streets to protest the coup.
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, while withholding certain investments in Myanmar’s armed forces and its Ministry of Defense
At the same time, the U.S. retained the ability to bolster sanctions on individuals and entities that undermined the political reform process or…
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