The United States is imposing consequences on the leaders of the coup in Myanmar, President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday, reiterating that the military must relinquish power it seized “and demonstrate respect for the role of the people” as “expressed in their November 8th election.”
The U.S. government, Biden announced, “is taking steps to prevent the generals from improperly having access to the one billion dollars in Burmese government funds.” He has also approved an executive order “enabling us to immediately sanction the military leaders that directed the coup, their business interest as well as close family members.”
A first round of targets will be identified this week, the president explained in remarks about the situation in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
“We’re also going to impose strong exports controls for 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,” announced Biden.
The Feb. 1 overthrow by the Myanmar military of the country’s democratically-elected government has prompted widespread street demonstrations there against the takeover for five consecutive days.
“As protests grow, violence against those asserting their democratic rights is unacceptable and we're going to keep calling it out,” the U.S. president said in several minutes of remarks in the White House auditorium. “The people of Burma are making their voices heard.”
The United States is ready to impose additional measures if the situation worsens, Biden indicated.
The United Nations and other organizations have expressed concern about the use of force against protestors. Major global rights groups have renewed calls for international corporations to break ties with military-linked enterprises and urged governments to impose targeted sanctions on the generals and their business interests.
Military leaders have placed democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other officials of the civilian government and the National League for Democracy, as well as activists, under arrest. Curfews have been enacted and gatherings restricted.
The coup reversed a nearly decade-long move toward democracy after a five-decade period of military rule. The military claims the November election won by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy was fraudulent.