Biden Hits Myanmar’s Military, Businesses With Sanctions Over Coup
(February 10, 2021) — President Biden announced on Wednesday that he signed an executive order that will sanction Myanmar’s military leaders, their families, and some businesses in response to the country’s February 1st coup.
Biden said he approved an order “enabling us to immediately sanction the military leaders who directed the coup, their business interests, as well as close family members.” He said the US will identify the targets of the first round of sanctions later this week.
The US government is not allowing Myanmar’s military leaders to access $1 billion in Burmese funds that are held in the US. Biden said he will also impose “strict export controls” and is “freezing US assets” that can benefit Myanmar’s military.
Since Myanmar’s military took control of the government, after claiming fraud in the country’s November elections, President Biden has demanded that the generals step down, which he repeated on Wednesday. “The military must relinquish the power it seized and demonstrate respect for the will of the people of Burma as expressed in their November 8th election,” he said.
Biden also made it clear that the US is keeping an eye on protests in Myanmar and threatened further intervention. “As protests grow, violence against those asserting their democratic rights is unacceptable, and we’re going to keep calling it out,” he said. “We’ll be ready to impose additional measures.”
Remarks on the Administration’s Response to the Coup in Burma
SOUTH COURT AUDITORIUM (February 10, 2021) — THE PRESIDENT: Thank you for being here on short notice. I’m going to be very brief, but I — because the Vice President and I are heading over the Pentagon for an extensive briefing and to make some comments, as we did at the State Department. So I’m going to be going from here to there, and you’ll get me there as well.
I want to say good afternoon, everyone. I wanted to give you an update on the latest regarding our response to the military coup in Burma.
As you know, the assault on Burma’s transition to democracy remains an issue of deep bipartisan concern. We’ve consulted at length, for example, with Senator McConnell, who’s had a very keen interest in this, and his team. And we welcomed their helpful insights.
We’ve also been in close contact with our allies and partners around the world, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region, driving vigorous diplomatic outreach to help coordinate an international response to what happened.
A strong and unified message emerging from the United States has been essential, in our view, to encouraging other countries to join us in pressing for an immediate return to democracy.
Last week, the United States helped bring together the U.N. Security Council, which issued a strong statement in support of Burmese democracy. And this week, we will use our renewed engagement on the Human Rights Council to strengthen the world’s commitment to human rights in Burma.
Today, I again call on the Burmese military to immediately release the democratic political leaders and activists and — that they’re now detaining, including Aung San Suu Kyi. And she is — and also Win Myint, the President.
The military must relinquish the power it seized and demonstrate respect for the will of the people of Burma as expressed in their November 8th election.
So today, I’m announcing a series — a series of actions that we’re taking to begin imposing consequences on the leaders of the coup. The U.S. government is taking steps to prevent the generals from improperly having access to the $1 billion in Burmese government funds held in the United States.
And today, I’ve approved a new executive order — (coughs) — excuse me — a new executive order enabling us to immediately sanction the military leaders who directed the coup, their business interests, as well as close family members.
We will identify a first round of targets this week. And we’re also going to impose strong export controls. And we’re freezing U.S. assets that benefit the Burmese government, while maintaining our support for healthcare, civil society groups, and other areas that benefit the people of Burma directly.
And, finally, as protests grow, violence against those asserting their democratic rights is unacceptable, and we’re going to keep calling it out. The people of Burma are making their voices heard. And the world is watching.
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.
So I thank you all. I wanted to have that statement before I got in the vehicle to go out to the Pentagon. And I’m sure I’ll see some of you at the Pentagon. Thanks for coming over on such short notice. Thank you.