President Biden threatens to sanction Myanmar over military coup, says America will defend democracy around the world

U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Monday released a strongly worded statement threatened to sanction Myanmar over a military coup there, adding that the United States will defend democracy around the world.

“The international community should come together in one voice to press the Burmese military to immediately relinquish the power they have seized, release the activists and officials they have detained, lift all telecommunications restrictions, and refrain from violence against civilians,” President Biden said in a statement on Monday afternoon released by the White House.

Myanmar’s de facto head of state Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior figures from the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) as well as regional government leaders were arrested in early morning raids. A number of ethnic party and student leaders, as well as prominent activists and human rights defenders were also reported to have been arrested.

Later in the morning, a military-owned television station announced that a one-year state of emergency was being imposed under the authority of the Commander in Chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

Read full statement by President Biden below

The military’s seizure of power in Burma, the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian officials, and the declaration of a national state of emergency are a direct assault on the country’s transition to democracy and the rule of law. In a democracy, force should never seek to overrule the will of the people or attempt to erase the outcome of a credible election. For almost a decade, the people of Burma have been steadily working to establish elections, civilian governance, and the peaceful transfer of power. That progress should be respected.

The international community should come together in one voice to press the Burmese military to immediately relinquish the power they have seized, release the activists and officials they have detained, lift all telecommunications restrictions, and refrain from violence against civilians. The United States is taking note of those who stand with the people of Burma in this difficult hour. We will work with our partners throughout the region and the world to support the restoration of democracy and the rule of law, as well as to hold accountable those responsible for overturning Burma’s democratic transition.

The United States removed sanctions on Burma over the past decade based on progress toward democracy. The reversal of that progress will necessitate an immediate review of our sanction laws and authorities, followed by appropriate action.

The United States will stand up for democracy wherever it is under attack. 

Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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