Today, President Biden is taking significant steps in response to the military coup in Burma, and the unjust detention of President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian officials, as well as human rights defenders, journalists, and civil society leaders.
Together with allies, partners, and international organizations, we will stand with the people of Burma as they reaffirm their support for democracy through peaceful protest.
Today, President Biden is taking concrete actions to hold those responsible for the February 1 coup to account, and to reaffirm the United States’ support for the democratic aspirations of the people of Burma.
In a democracy, force should never overrule the will of the people or erase the outcome of a credible election. For almost a decade, the people of Burma have been steadily working to establish credible elections, civilian governance, and the peaceful transfer of power. That progress must be respected.
Today’s sanctions need not be permanent. Burma’s military should immediately restore power to the democratically elected government, end the state of emergency, release all those unjustly detained, and ensure peaceful protestors are not met with violence. The results of Burma’s November 8, 2021 elections must be respected, and Parliament should be convened at the earliest opportunity.
The United States will continue to work with our allies, partners, and international organizations as we condemn the actions of the Burmese military, and call for the immediate restoration of democracy. We view this coup as a direct assault on the country’s transition to democracy.
Today, and in the coming days, President Biden will issue directives and sign actions:
Holding Those Involved in the Coup to Account
Immediately after reports of the coup surfaced, the Administration made clear that the United States opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of Burma’s recent elections or impede the country’s democratic transition, and that there will be consequences for those who fail to stand with the people of Burma at this critical time.
Imposing new sanctions on military individuals and entities: Today, President Biden launched a new sanctions regime targeting the Burmese military and its leaders, as well as their business interests. The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated 10 individuals and three entities for their association with the military apparatus responsible for the coup. Among these individuals are six members of the National Defense and Security Council, including Commander-in-Chief of the Burmese military forces Min Aung Hlaing and Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Burmese military forces Soe Win, as well as four members of the State Administration Council. Under the new Executive order signed by President Biden, Treasury can also target the spouses and adult children of these individuals.
Three entities, including Myanmar Ruby Enterprise and Myanmar Imperial Jade Co., LTD. which are wholly owned subsidiaries of a conglomerate owned or controlled by the Burmese military, have also been designated.
Imposing immediate export restrictions: Also today, the Department of Commerce is taking immediate action to limit exports of sensitive goods to the Burmese military and other entities associated with the recent coup. A series of immediate export restrictions is being imposed on Burma’s Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Home Affairs, armed forces, and security services in response to their recent activities. We will continue to assess and develop additional regulatory amendments to impose further export restrictions on the Burmese military to ensure that entities involved in the dismantling of democratic norms and institutions do not have access to U.S. technologies.
Restricting U.S. based assets: As the President announced yesterday, the U.S. government is taking steps to prevent the generals from improperly accessing more than $1 billion in Burmese government funds held in the United States.
While the United States removed sanctions on Burma over the past decade based on Burma’s progress toward democracy, today’s sanction actions provide punitive measures against those who seek to thwart the will of the Burmese people towards democracy.
Working with Allies, Partners and Like-Minded Institutions
Building international support: The United States will continue to 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’ close coordination with allies, partners, and like-minded institutions at every level has resulted in consistent and strong messages on the coup as an affront to the Burmese people. Last week, the United States helped bring together the UN Security Council, which issued a strong statement of support for Burmese democracy. On February 12, we will join a session of the UN Human Rights Council to highlight the need for the military to end human rights abuses. And President Biden has also spoken about Burma directly with leaders in the region, including Prime Minister Modi and President Xi. We remain in close contact with like-minded nations, and welcome statements from the G7, ASEAN and several of Burma’s neighbors that have strongly condemned the actions of the Burmese military.
Prioritizing the People of Burma
Ensuring U.S. assistance directly supports the people of Burma: In addition, as the President said, through U.S. development and foreign assistance agencies, we are freezing U.S. assistance that benefits the Burmese government. We will, however, maintain our support for healthcare, civil society groups, and other areas that benefit the Burmese people directly. We will also continue our support for Rohingya and other vulnerable populations.
As part of today’s actions, USAID will redirect $42.4 million of assistance away from work that benefits the Government of Burma, including support for reforming economic policy, to programs that support and strengthen civil society and the private sector.
USAID will continue its support to the people of Burma with approximately $69 million in bilateral programs that provide direct benefits to sustain and improve the health of the people of Burma, including efforts to maintain democratic space, foster food security, support independent media, and promote peace and reconciliation in conflict-affected regions.