According to reports from the region, the Myanmar military has detained several top civilian leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and a Democratic activist who won the political party in the recent elections. In a televised statement, he said the military had taken control of the country and declared a state of emergency for a year.
The military is dissatisfied with the results of the November election, in which Suu Kyi’s party performed well, while the military – backed party was relatively poor. The military accuses him of voter fraud. Myanmar’s new parliament convenes for its first meeting on Monday.
In a statement late Sunday, White House Press Secretary Jen Zhaki said the United States was «terrified» by the reports.
«The United States opposes any attempt to change the outcome of the recent elections or to impede Myanmar’s democratic transformation,» Zaki said, adding that the United States would «take action against those responsible if these actions are not reversed.»
Jack Sullivan, his national security adviser, explained the situation to Biden, Zaki said.
Zaki did not say what action the United States would take if the Myanmar military did not heed its warnings. However, the paradox is that the administration will return to sanctions as in the past.
Secretary of State Anthony Blingen also did not promise a sentence, with a somewhat softer statement.
«The United States stands with the people of Burma in the aspirations for democracy, freedom, peace and development,» Blingen said. «The military must change these measures immediately.»
Myanmar has been ruled by a military junta for decades, imprisoning thousands of pro-democracy activists, scholars and journalists. In the 2000s, the country began to move to open up its system and pave the way for limited public rule. It has held relatively free general elections over the past decade and has taken a number of steps to allow more free speech and trade.
Myanmar’s progress towards democracy has been praised and greatly encouraged by the Obama administration, during which Biden served as vice president. To further promote democratization, then-President Barack Obama lifted a number of sanctions on Myanmar.
Nevertheless, the military has retained key levers of power, including the effective control of certain ministries, and has never come under civilian control. Suu Kyi, who was under house arrest for many years before the democratic reforms, has been a true civilian leader in recent years, but she has always had to balance it with the continued power of the military.
The military, which is dominated by the majority of the population, has a brutal record in Myanmar, engaging in protracted battles with the country’s ethnic minorities. In 2017, that Conducted a vicious repression On the long-persecuted Rohingya Muslims, thousands were killed and 700,000 pushed into neighboring Bangladesh.
Suu Kyi has refused to speak in a meaningful way against the mass atrocities that some officials and experts have branded as genocide; His often non-violent approach to the massacre and the forced expulsion of the Rohingya has tarnished his international image.
The administration of former President Donald Trump has called what happened to the Rohingya a genocide. But Trump’s second secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, will not go so far as to call it genocide.
Foreign officials have pointed out in part that he did not like it in the past Put Myanmar in the hands of China, Which has long been the main host of the country.
During his latest confirmation hearing, New Secretary of State Blingen said he was reviewing the situation of the Rohingya To determine whether a genocide was committed. Meanwhile, Blinken and Biden have said they believe China has committed genocide against Uyghur Muslims in its region.
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