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President Joe Biden announced Wednesday the imposition of sanctions on military leaders in Myanmar who led the coup that ousted and detained its elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, among others.
Biden also demanded that 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, announcing two new executive orders related to the sanctions.
The president said he would prevent the Burmese generals from accessing to $1 billion in Myanmar funds being held in the United States.
Biden also stated, “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 similarly called on the military to refrain from using violence, as it has, against protestors exercising their rights to object to the coup.
Last week, Biden condemned the military coup against the civilian-led government, calling it “a direct assault on the country’s transition to democracy and rule of law.”
When asked about the sanctions, State Department spokesman Ned Price said: “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.
JUST IN: President Biden on Myanmar:
• Calls for military to relinquish power
• Sanctions military leaders
• Freezes US assets that benefit Myanmar gov't while maintaining support for healthcare
“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. Still, the generals behind the coup have claimed that the election was fraudulent. Myanmar citizens, wearing red 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, as well as motorized processions. It imposed an 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew for Yangon and Mandalay, the country’s two 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.
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.