US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced new sanctions against members of Myanmar’s military on Monday for the ongoing crackdown on pro-democracy protests since the military seized power in a February 1 coup.
“The United States continues to call on the military regime to release all those unjustly detained; stop its attacks on civil society members, journalists, and labor unionists; halt the brutal killings by its security forces; and return power to the democratically elected government,” Blinken said.
The US will designate Myanmar’s chief of police, Than Hlaing, and its Bureau of Special Operations commander, Lt. Gen. Aung Soe, as well as two army units “for being responsible for or complicit in or having directly or indirectly engaged or attempted to engage in, actions or policies that prohibit, limit, or penalize the exercise of freedom of expression or assembly by people in Burma,” Blinken said in a statement.
Members of one of the military units were among the security forces that fired live rounds into a crowd of protesters in the capital of Mandalay, and both units are “part of the Burmese security forces’ planned, systemic strategies to ramp up the use of lethal force,” Blinken said.
“These designations show that this violence will not go unanswered,” the top US diplomat said.
The EU sanctions targeted Myanmar’s senior military officials, including the commander-in-chief, the deputy commander-in-chief, as well as an official who heads the election commission.
Blinken noted that the United Kingdom and Canada have also sanctioned many of the same individuals.
“The United States, together with our allies and partners, has stood with them. In response, the military regime continues its violent crackdown, which has killed at least 194 people to-date, including peaceful protesters,” Blinken said.
“The junta continues its attempts to overturn the results of a democratic election by brutally repressing peaceful protesters and killing individuals who are simply demanding a say in their country’s future.”
The military seized power after claiming that November 8 elections, which were decisively won by political leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, had been marred by fraud. After the country’s election commission disputed that claim, the military replaced the commission.