Terming the military detention of civilian leaders in Myanmar a coup, a senior State Department official on Tuesday said the US is in touch with like-minded allies like India and Japan on the latest developments in the Southeast Asian nation as they have better contact with the military there. Myanmar’s military on Monday staged a coup and detained top political figures, including de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
It was also announced that the military had taken control of the country for one year.
“We have certainly been in frequent contact with our like-minded allies and partners in the region. You mentioned Japan and India. Those are we’re having daily ongoing conversations with them, and we certainly appreciate that some other countries have better contact with Burmese military than we do so we’re continuing those conversations,” a senior State Department official told reporters during a conference call.
The United States on Tuesday said that the Burmese military action is a coup.
“After a careful review of the facts and circumstances, we have assessed that Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Burma’s ruling party, and Win Myint, the duly elected head of government, were deposed in a military coup on February 1,” the State Department official said.
“We continue to call on the Burmese military leadership to release them and all other detained civil society and political leaders immediately and unconditionally,” the official said.
The US has denounced in the strongest possible terms Myanmar’s military leaders for seeking to reject the will of the people of the country’s as expressed in democratic elections on November 8th and for taking control of the government.
“We continue to stand with the people of Burma, as we have done for decades, in their efforts to achieve democracy, freedom, peace, and development,” said the official.
This assessment, the official said, triggers certain restrictions in foreign assistance to the government of Myanmar and the US would undertake a broader review of our assistance programs to ensure they align with recent events.
“At the same time, it will continue programs that benefit the people of Burma directly, including humanitarian assistance and democracy support programs that benefit civil society,” the official said.
The return to civilian rule in 2015 enabled Myanmar to re-engage with countries and businesses across the globe and move beyond relying on others in the region that do not respect human rights and democratic institutions.
“The military’s actions over the last week, and frankly prior to that, have put that progress at grave risk. A very small circle of Burma’s military leaders have chosen their own interests over the will and well-being of the people,” the official said.
The Biden administration, the official said, rejects any attempt by the military to alter the outcome of the November 2020 election in Burma.
“And, as President Biden has said, we will take action against those responsible, including through a careful review of our current sanctions posture as it relates to Burma’s military leaders and companies associated with them. Most importantly, we will continue to stand with the people of Burma,” the official said.
“…we will be conducting a review of all our assistance programmes for Burma. I don’t have a timeline for you on that, but we’re going to be guided by our longstanding commitment to the people of Burma and their aspirations for democracy, peace, justice, and development,” said the official.
Calling the military’s seizure of power in Myanmar a “direct assault” on its transition to democracy, US President Joe Biden on Monday threatened to slap new sanctions on the country.