Condemning violence, nations call for democracy in Burma

Large crowd filling street (© AP Images)
The United States and other democratic nations are calling for the restoration of democracy in Burma and urging the military to respect the human rights of protesters like those seen here in Mandalay, Burma, on February 22. (© AP Images)

On February 1, Burmese military officials overthrew their country’s democratically elected government. They arrested officials, journalists and other society leaders. They fired rubber bullets and live ammunition at protesters, killing four and injuring at least 40 others.

The United States and a growing number of nations are calling for a return to democracy in Burma and an end to military violence against peaceful protesters.

We “firmly condemn violence committed by Myanmar’s security forces against peaceful protests,” the Group of Seven (G7) nations said in a February 23 statement. They called for the release of Burma’s democratically elected leaders and pledged their leaders would “continue to stand with the people of Myanmar in their quest for democracy and freedom.”

The G7 nations are the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom. The High Representative of the European Union also joined the statement.

Women in scrubs and face masks holding signs about protecting democracy (© AP Images)
Health care professionals at the University Hospital protest the military coup February 5 in Rangoon, Burma. (© AP Images)

On February 18, Secretary of State Antony Blinken also urged the international community to send a unified message to promote accountability in Burma.

Blinken joined ministers of the Quadrilateral Dialogue (the Quad) in noting “the urgent need to restore the democratically elected government in Burma,” the State Department said. The Quad consists of the United States, India, Japan and Australia and supports a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

The United States, the United Kingdom and Canada have sanctioned Burmese military officials to censure and financially isolate those responsible for the coup and pressure the military regime.

On February 11, the U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned 10 current or former Burmese officials affiliated with the military regime or responsible for the coup. It designated two additional State Administrative Council members on February 22 in response to violence against protesters. The United States carefully tailors sanctions against military officials so they do not harm the people of Burma or its economy.

“The United States will continue to work with a broad coalition of international partners to promote accountability for coup leaders and those responsible for this violence,” Blinken said. “We will not waver in our support for the people of Burma.”