The Biden administration responded to an early morning military coup in Myanmar on Monday by threatening to “take action against those responsible.”
Myanmar’s military detained “Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and her top lieutenants in early morning raids and seizing power from a government established only five years ago,” The New York Times reported. “Hours later, with politicians and activists alike racing to find out who had been detained, a military television network announced a one-year state of emergency with ultimate authority transferred to the army chief, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing.”
Myanmar’s military performed poorly in its November elections, refused to accept the results, claimed that it was stolen, and tried taking its case to Myanmar’s Supreme Court.
With the coup underway, flights were reportedly cut off from the country, phone and internet services went down in major cities, and some reporters went into hiding.
The Biden administration immediately threatened to take action against the military powers responsible for the coup.
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said:
The United States is alarmed by reports that the Burmese military has taken steps to undermine the country’s democratic transition, including the arrest of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian officials in Burma. President Biden has been briefed by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. We continue to affirm our strong support for Burma’s democratic institutions and, in coordination with our regional partners, urge the military and all other parties to adhere to democratic norms and the rule of law, and to release those detained today. 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. We are monitoring the situation closely and stand with the people of Burma, who have already endured so much in their quest for democracy and peace.
The coup was announced on a military-owned television station that claimed the country’s constitution allowed for the military to declare a national emergency. The military said that the national emergency would last one year and that, at the end of the period, it would oversee what it deemed would be free and fair multiparty elections.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement similar to the statement that Psaki gave, saying:
The United States expresses grave concern and alarm regarding reports that the Burmese military has detained multiple civilian government leaders, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and civil society leaders. We call on Burmese military leaders to release all government officials and civil society leaders and respect the will of the people of Burma as expressed in democratic elections on November 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.
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