Man standing in middle of crowd of people sitting down with yellow umbrellas (© AP Images)
Burma’s military attacked peaceful protesters, including in Mandalay, where demonstrators called for a return to democracy March 13. (© AP Images)

The United States is imposing sanctions against Burmese military officials responsible for attacks on peaceful protesters, part of broad U.S. support for the Burmese people.

Burma’s military has cracked down on the Burmese people’s calls to restore democracy after a February 1 military coup, arresting political opponents and killing hundreds of peaceful protesters and other members of the public.

In response, the U.S. government recently sanctioned Burmese officials and military units responsible for the escalating violence, as well as two companies that support the military.

“These actions will specifically target those who led the coup, the economic interests of the military, and the funding streams supporting the Burmese military’s brutal repression,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said March 25. “They are not directed at the people of Burma.”

Woman seen through glass sitting on window sill, with reflected silhouette of man looking into sunset (© Anupam Nath/AP Images)
Police officers who fled Burma told the Associated Press they were ordered to shoot people, even their own family members, who did not support the coup. (© Anupam Nath/AP Images)

Recent U.S. designations target Burma’s Chief of Police Than Hlaing and a Bureau of Special Operations commander, Lieutenant General Aung Soe. Other U.S. sanctions target military divisions responsible for attacks on protesters.

Members of the 33rd Light Infantry Division fired into a crowd in Mandalay on February 20, while both the 33rd and 77th light infantry divisions support the Burmese military’s plans to use lethal force, according to the U.S. Department of State.

The United States also designated two companies that financially support the military: the Myanma Economic Holdings Public Company Limited and Myanmar Economic Corporation Limited.

The designations follow U.S. sanctions issued in February, against current or former Burmese officials who are either affiliated with the military regime or responsible for the coup or attacks on protesters.

The European Union on March 22 also designated 11 individuals in connection with the coup and subsequent violence, including some officials already targeted by U.S. sanctions.

The United States government is offering temporary status to roughly 1,600 Burmese citizens to protect them from returning to a country besieged by violence. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas designated Burma for temporary protected status March 12, making Burmese who are in the United States eligible to stay for 18 months.

“The United States is shocked and deeply saddened by reports that Burmese security forces continued to use lethal force against the people of Burma,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said March 25, noting the killing of at least 27 people, including children, days earlier.

“These abhorrent and brutal acts against children, one as young as seven years old who was shot and killed in her home while sitting on her father’s lap, further demonstrate the horrific nature of the Burmese military regime’s assault on its own people.”