President Joe Biden announced Feb. 10 that his administration will place sanctions on the orchestrators of a military takeover in Burma, also known as Myanmar, in what has been described by the U.S. State Department last week as a coup.
“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,” he said.
The military on Feb. 1 moved to oust elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, among others, with top officials alleging election fraud.
“We will identify a first round of targets this week, and we’re also going to impose strong exports controls,” Biden said, announcing two executive orders. Last week, he condemned the military takeover of the civilian-led government and said it’s a “direct assault” on the country’s democratic institutions.
Also on Feb. 10, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the effort to sanction officials involved in the apparent coup would include “working with our partners and allies, including in the region, to determine the right ways to put pressure on and have engagement.”
There are “ongoing discussions and talks with our partners and allies in Asia and Europe, and you know there’s certainly a recognition that this will need to be a coordinated effort,” she said.
Separately, large crowds of protesters have taken to the streets in Yangon and other cities to demonstrate against the military takeover.
“As part of Generation Z we are first-time voters. This is our first time to protest as well,” said one protester, reported The Associated Press. “They negated our votes and this is totally unfair. We do not want that. We hope they release our leaders and implement a real democracy.”
The State Department formally declared the military takeover in Burma as a coup d’etat, which requires the United States to cut foreign aid to the government.
“After careful review of the facts and circumstances, we have assessed that Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Burma’s ruling party, and Win Myint, the duly elected head of government, were deposed in a military coup on February 1,” a State Department official said last week, according to the agency’s website. “We continue to call on the Burmese military leadership to release them and all other detained civil society and political leaders immediately and unconditionally.”
The spokesperson added: “We have denounced in the strongest possible terms Burma’s military leaders for seeking to reject the will of the people of Burma as expressed in democratic elections on November 8th, and for taking control of the Government of Burma. We continue to stand with the people of Burma, as we have done for decades, in their efforts to achieve democracy, freedom, peace, and development.”