WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Wednesday ordered new sanctions against the military regime in Myanmar, taking action after the military this month staged a coup in the Southeast Asian country and arrested de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior politicians.
Biden said he was issuing an executive order that will prevent Myanmar's generals from accessing $1 billion in assets in the United States. Biden added that more measures are to come.
“The military must relinquish power it seized and demonstrate respect for the will of the people of Burma,” Biden said.
Before Biden spoke from the White House, large crowds demonstrating against the military takeover again took to the streets in Myanmar, even after security forces ratcheted up the use of force against them and raided the headquarters of Suu Kyi’s political party.
Witnesses estimated that tens of thousands of protesters, if not more, turned out in Yangon and Mandalay, the country’s biggest cities. Rallies also took place in the capital, Naypyitaw, and elsewhere.
The protesters are demanding that power be restored to Suu Kyi’s deposed civilian government. They’re also seeking freedom for her and other governing party members detained by the military after it blocked the new session of Parliament on Feb. 1.
The military cited the government’s failure to act on unsubstantiated allegations of widespread voter fraud as part of the reason for the takeover and declaration of a one-year state of emergency. The generals maintain the actions are legally justified, and have cited an article in the constitution that allows the military to take over in times of emergency.
Suu Kyi’s party has said it’s effectively a coup. The Biden administration also was quick to officially determine the takeover was a coup, setting the stage for Wednesday's announcement.
Madhani reported from Chicago.