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Biden announces sanctions on Myanmar coup leaders

Biden imposes new sanctions on Myanmar's military
Biden imposes new sanctions on Myanmar's mili... 01:55

President Biden on Wednesday announced sanctions on the military leaders who directed the coup in Myanmar. 

Earlier this month, the administration labeled the military takeover and detention of Aung San Suu Kyi a coup, triggering a freeze in certain U.S. assistance to the country and a review of some aid programs. Support for health care, civil society groups and other aid that benefit the Burmese people directly will continue. 

"I've approved a new executive order ... enabling us to immediately sanction the military leaders who directed the coup, their business interests, as well as close family members," Mr. Biden said Wednesday. "We will identify a first round of targets this week, and we're also going to impose strong export controls. We're freezing U.S. assets that benefit the Burmese government, while maintaining our support for health care, civil society groups and other areas that benefit the people of Burma directly."

"And finally, as protests grow, violence against those asserting their democratic rights is unacceptable and we're going to keep calling it out. The people of Burma are making their voices heard and the world is watching. We'll be ready to impose additional measures and we'll continue to work with our international partners to urge other nations to join us in these efforts," the president concluded. 

CBS News correspondent Christina Ruffini reports that officials have made it clear the administration will continue to help to the people of Myanmar and bolster efforts to foster democracy in the country.     

"We have expressed grave concern regarding the Burmese military's detention of civilian government leaders," a State Department official said on a call with reporters last week. "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 Mynt, the duly elected head of government, were deposed in a military coup on February 1st."

The Biden administration honed its stance hours after Chinese state media dismissed the takeover as "a major cabinet reshuffle," rolling out euphemisms to avoid calling it a coup. Mr. Biden has made it clear the U.S. was "taking note" of who was standing up for Myanmar's people.

On Wednesday, large crowds of demonstrators again defied a ban on protests, demanding that power be restored to Suu Kyi's deposed civilian government. They're also seeking freedom for her and other governing party members.

Protesters Block Roads As Civil Disobedience Grows in Myanmar
Protesters hold up posters featuring Aung San Suu Kyi and make three-finger salutes on February 8, 2021, in Yangon, Myanmar.  Getty Images

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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