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Biden to redirect $42.4M in aid to Myanmar, sanction key military figures

Biden to redirect $42.4M in aid to Myanmar, sanction key military figures
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The Biden administration on Thursday announced its sanctions campaign related to the military coup in Myanmar, targeting military commanders, their families and businesses and redirecting $42.4 million of U.S. assistance away from the government.

The military in Myanmar, also referred to as Burma, instituted a state of emergency on Feb. 1 and overthrew the democratically elected government over allegations of election fraud related to the parliamentary contest in November.

President BidenJoe BidenBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Myanmar military conducts violent night raids Confidence in coronavirus vaccines has grown with majority now saying they want it MORE vowed to hold to account those responsible for the coup.

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“Today’s sanctions need not be permanent,” the White House said in a statement Thursday.

“The results of Burma’s November 8, 2021 elections must be respected, and Parliament should be convened at the earliest opportunity,” they added, and called for Myanmar's military to immediately restore power to the democratically elected government and release unjustly detained government and political officials and activists that include Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.

The White House on Thursday detailed that sanctions target 10 individuals and three entities.

Among these are six members of the National Defense and Security Council, led by Myanmar’s top military general Min Aung Hlaing, who took over the government with the coup, and his Deputy Commander in Chief Soe Win.

The two men are already under U.S. sanctions for gross human rights violations against Myanmar’s minority Rohingya Muslim population that were imposed in 2019.

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The White House further said that four members of the State Administration Council, an executive body formed in the wake of the coup, are also targeted for sanctions, without releasing specific names. Spouses and adult children of all 10 individuals are also open to sanctions.

The White House further designated three entities, including Myanmar Ruby Enterprise and Myanmar Imperial Jade Co., LTD for having strong ties to the military. The designations make international transactions with these companies at risk of U.S. penalties.

Other penalties the Biden administration instituted include limiting exports of sensitive goods to the military in Myanmar and other entities associated with the coup, imposing restrictions on exports to Myanmar’s Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Home Affairs, armed forces and security services.

The administration will also be redirecting $42.4 million in U.S. assistance for the government in Myanmar to civil society and private sector projects, the White House said. The assistance originally was intended as support for reforming economic policy.

The U.S. sanctions are the first concrete punitive steps taken against the military coup in Myanmar, amid statements of international condemnation and concern and growing opposition in the country as citizens take to the streets to protest the coup.

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The president has said he hopes the actions by the U.S. send a signal for other nations to join in pressing the military to return to democracy, and also called for the military to ensure peaceful protesters are not met with violence.

The White House said it is continuing to work with “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.”

The sanctions were welcomed by senators on both sides of the aisle, releasing a joint statement in support of the president’s actions.

“We applaud the Biden administration decision to impose targeted sanctions against Burma’s military leaders who directed the coup that removed the democratically elected, civilian-led government from power on February 1st,” the statement read.

It was signed by Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP votes in unison against COVID-19 relief bill Hillicon Valley: YouTube to restore Trump's account | House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference | Senators introduce legislation to create international tech partnerships Senators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China MORE (R-Fla.); Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyHillicon Valley: High alert as new QAnon date approaches Thursday | Biden signals another reversal from Trump with national security guidance | Parler files a new case Senators question Bezos, Amazon about cameras placed in delivery vans OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine MORE (D-Mass.), lead Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on East Asia; James Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinCOVID-19 relief debate stalls in Senate amid Democratic drama Senate GOP will force clerks to read bill to delay COVID-19 relief vote OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine MORE (D-Md.).

The senators added that they are encouraged by the Biden administration’s pledge to support Myanmar's civil society and humanitarian efforts and committed to working with the administration for a coordinated response pushing back against the coup.

“We remain committed to continuing to work with the Biden administration to ensure that the U.S. and international response to the recent military coup is coordinated and targeted to have a strong impact on those responsible, while also encouraging a peaceful transition of power back to the civilian government,” they said. “We stand in solidarity with hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters who have lined the streets throughout Burma and condemn any violence against them.”