WH indicates it is watching response of countries in the region on Myanmar

Lalit K Jha
·3-min read

Washington, Feb 2 (PTI) The White House indicated on Monday that it is watching the response of countries in the region on the military coup in Myanmar.

President Joe Biden, in a statement, said the United States is taking note of those who stand with the people of Myanmar in this difficult hour.

'We will work with our partners throughout the region and the world to support the restoration of democracy and the rule of law, as well as to hold accountable those responsible for overturning Burma's democratic transition,' Biden said as he strongly condemned the military coup in Myanmar.

'Is that perhaps a message to China?' a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki during her daily news conference.

'I think it is a message to all countries in the region and countries, who, you know, will be asked to respond or consider what the appropriate response will be in reaction to the events that have happened over the past couple of days,' Psaki said.

The US, she said, has had intensive consultations at multiple levels with allies and partners in the region and around the world. 'I would expect many of those would come through the State Department,' Psaki said.

Senator Bob Menendez, the incoming Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a statement, strongly condemned the reported detention of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders of Myanmar by the Tatmadaw. The launch of another coup would be a tragedy for the people of Myanmar after a decade of work to establish a civilian-led democratic government, he said.

'The Tatmadaw, who are guilty of genocide against the Rohingya and of a sustained campaign of violence against Burma's ethnic minorities, must immediately free the democratic leaders of Myanmar and remove themselves from government,' he said.

In a statement, lead Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Michael McCaul said the return of military rule to Myanmar is a tragedy for its people and their decades-long struggle for democracy.

'The crimes of Burma's military, the Tatmadaw, go far beyond ending Burma's five years of partial democracy and include the genocide against the Rohingya and continued abuses against democratic freedoms inside the country.

'Despite being handed many chances, especially the lifting of sanctions in 2016, the Tatmadaw has resoundingly failed to prove that it can act as a reasonable and trustworthy player on the world stage. The Tatmadaw must end arbitrary detentions, stop interfering with communication and return to democracy immediately, and there must be consequences for their actions,' he said.

McCaul had co-sponsored the BURMA Act in the 116th Congress to impose sanctions on the Tatmadaw, in addition to authorising humanitarian aid and pushing for a genocide determination.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said the reports that Myanmar's military has rounded up civilian leaders, including Suu Kyi and key civil society figures, are horrifying, completely unacceptable and a saddening step backwards for the country's slow and unsteady democratic transition.

'I call on Burma's military to immediately release the civilian political leaders of the country and turn back from this abyss. The Biden Administration must take a strong stand and our partners and all democracies around the world should follow suit in condemning this authoritarian assault on democracy. We need to support the people of Burma in their journey toward democracy and impose costs on those who stand in their way,' he said.

Congressman Gregory W Meeks, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said he is deeply concerned by the Myanmarese military's arrest of President Win Myint, Suu Kyi and other elected officials, and called for their immediate release.

'I strongly urge the Burmese military to respect the election result and release those duly elected officials it has arrested in order to minimise the damage that has already been done to the country's democracy,' he said. PTI LKJ RC