Biden threatens sanctions on Myanmar after coup
President Joe Biden on Monday warned that the US could reinstate sanctions on Myanmar in the wake of its military seizing power and detaining democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other officials.
“The United States removed sanctions on Burma over the past decade based on progress toward democracy,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House, referring to the country by its previous name.
“The reversal of that progress will necessitate an immediate review of our sanction laws and authorities, followed by appropriate action.”
Myanmar’s military seized power on Monday in a coup against the democratically elected government of Suu Kyi, who was detained along with other leaders of her National League for Democracy party in early morning raids on the day the new parliament was set to hold its first session.
“For almost a decade, the people of Burma have been steadily working to establish elections, civilian governance, and the peaceful transfer of power. That progress should be respected,” Biden said in the statement.
“We will work with our partners throughout the region and the world to support the restoration of democracy and the rule of law, as well as to hold accountable those responsible for overturning Burma’s democratic transition.”
In response to a question at the daily news briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki refused to elaborate what actions could be taken on Myanmar. She added that Biden’s statement about the coup in Myanmar is directed at all countries in the region, when asked if it was directed at China.
The president’s statement had said, the United States “will stand up for democracy wherever it is under attack.”
The US had removed economic sanctions on Myanmar in 2016.
Biden also called for the international community to “come together in one voice to press the country’s military to immediately relinquish the power they have seized, release the activists and officials they have detained, lift all telecommunications restrictions, and refrain from violence against civilians”.
Secretary of state Antony Blinken expressed “grave concern and alarm” over the situation in a separate statement. “We call on Burmese military leaders to release all government officials and civil society leaders and respect the will of the people of Burma as expressed in democratic elections on November 8,” Blinken said. “The United States stands with the people of Burma in their aspirations for democracy, freedom, peace, and development. The military must reverse these actions immediately.”
On Sunday, the White House had put out a statement saying the United States opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition, and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed.
(With inputs from Agencies)