Myanmar coup: Joe Biden slaps sanctions on military leaders

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday issued an executive order Wednesday targeting Myanmar’s military regime with sanctions following a coup earlier this month that ousted the country’s democratically elected government.

“The military must relinquish power it seized and demonstrate respect for the will of the peopleof Burma,” Biden said, using the former name of Myanmar.

“I again call on the Burmese military to immediately release democratic political leaders and activists they are now detaining including Aung San Suu Kyi and also Win Myint, the president,” he added.

Biden’s order will keep Myanmar’s generals from accessing $1 billion (€825 million) in assets held in the United States. Specific targets of the sanctions will be identified later this week.

Biden said the sanctions are aimed at “military leaders who directed the coup, their business interests as well as close family members.”

“We’ll be ready to impose additional measures and we’ll continue to work with our international partners to urge other nations to join us in these efforts,” Biden said at the White House.

The new sanctions will cut off US assets benefiting the military while allowing US support for health care programs and civil society groups to continue, he added.

International response?

Many leaders of Myanmar’s military, including top general Min Aung Hlaing, are already subject to US sanctions that were applied in 2019 over the violence against the Muslim Rohingya . The UN has described the Myanmar clampdown on the minority group as genocide.

The US had also imposed sanctions on the military following a 1998 protest crackdown.

The military takeover of Myanmar has drawn fresh international condemnation, although it remains to be seen what impact new sanctions will have.

“There’s certainly a recognition that this will need to be a coordinated effort,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki ahead of Biden’s announcement.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US could apply more pressure on the generals by coordinating with partners and allies.

“We can impose costs that are even steeper,” Price said.

The UN Human Rights Council is due to hold a special session addressing the events in Myanmar on Thursday.

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