US joins international condemnation of military coup in Myanmar

Soldiers are transported in a truck in Myanmar
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The Biden administration is weighing action against Myanmar’s military following the arrest of the country’s democratically elected leader and other civilian government officials, joining the international community in condemning the reported coup.  

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement late Sunday night that the U.S. is “alarmed” by reports of the military coup. 

“The United States opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition, and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed,” she said.

Other nations and human rights groups have also spoken out against the military takeover. 

Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, seized power in an early morning raid against democratically elected officials, including Nobel laureate and leader of the ruling National League for Democracy. President Win Myint was among the other officials apprehended by the military.

The army said it carried out the raids in response to “election fraud,” Reuters reported, handing power to military chief Gen. Min Aung Hlaing and imposing a state of emergency for up to one year. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for the release of all government officials and civil society leaders and to respect the results of the democratic elections that took place in the country on Nov. 8. 

“The United States stands with the people of Burma in their aspirations for democracy, freedom, peace, and development. The military must reverse these actions immediately,” Blinken said in a statement.

The U.S. sanctioned Min Aung Hlaing in 2019 along with three other of Myanmar’s top military commanders for gross human rights violations related to the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority group.

Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for the U.S. and other countries to impose “strict economic sanctions” against the military if the democratic leaders of Myanmar are not released and restored to their positions in government.

“The launch of another coup would be a tragedy for the people of Burma after a decade of work to establish a civilian-led democratic government,” Menendez said in a statement. 

The Nov. 8 elections were seen as a victory for the pro-democracy movement in the country as they were the second democratic elections to take place since decades of authoritarian military rule ended in 2011.

The results of the election legitimized the popularity of Suu Kyi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her work promoting democracy and human rights and had spent a total of 15 years under house arrest by the military. 

But in more recent years, Suu Kyi has come under staunch criticism internationally for defending her country’s treatment of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority in the country. 

Updated 12:15 p.m. 

Tags Antony Blinken Bob Menendez Burma Myanmar Jen Psaki Robert Menendez

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