US President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he signed an executive order sanctioning military leaders who took over the government of Myanmar Feb. 1 in a coup.
“The military must relinquish power it seized and demonstrate respect for the will of the people of Burma, as expressed in their Nov. 8 election,” Biden said at a press briefing, using the former name of Myanmar.
Biden called for the “immediate release” of Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and all other democratic “political leaders and activists.”
Sanctions on the military leaders of the newly installed government include freezing of $1 billion in Myanmar government assets held in the United States, as well as sanctions against military leaders who directed the coup, including self-installed Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, along with their business interests and close family members, Biden said.
The United States will also impose export controls on assets that benefit the military-led Myanmar government, while “maintaining support” for healthcare and civil society groups in Myanmar, Biden added.
Biden praised the United Nations Security Council, which condemned the coup on Thursday, and said the United States was working to strengthen ties with the United Nations and its Human Rights Council to show international unity in the world’s call for the return of democracy in Myanmar.
“The violence against those asserting the democratic rights is unacceptable, and we’re going to keep calling it out.” Biden said about military clashes with protestors, now in their fifth day.
“The world is watching,” he added.
The military seized power on Feb. 1 and arrested Suu Kyi and many others, claiming that elections were illegitimate.
Military commander Min Aung Hlaing’s government declared a yearlong state of emergency before further elections could take place, removed and then restored Internet service, instituted a national curfew and a ban against groups of more than five protesters gathering in public.