Joe Biden

Remarks on the Situation in Burma

February 10, 2021

Thank you for being here on short notice. I'm going to be very brief, but I—because the Vice President and I are heading over the Pentagon for an extensive briefing and to make some comments, as we did at the State Department. So I'm going to be going from here to there, and you'll get me there as well.

I want to say good afternoon, everyone. I wanted to give you an update on the latest regarding our response to the military coup in Burma.

As you know, the assault on Burma's transition to democracy remains an issue of deep bipartisan concern. We've consulted at length, for example, with Senator McConnell, who's had a very keen interest in this, and his team. And we welcome their helpful insights.

We've also been in close contact with our allies and partners around the world, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region, driving vigorous diplomatic outreach to help coordinate an international response to what happened. A strong and unified message emerging from the United States has been essential, in our view, to encouraging other countries to join us in pressing for an immediate return to democracy.

Last week, the United States helped bring together the U.N. Security Council, which issued a strong statement in support of Burmese democracy. And this week, we will use our renewed engagement on the Human Rights Council to strengthen the world's commitment to human rights in Burma.

Today I again call on the Burmese military to immediately release the democratic political leaders and activists and—that they're now detaining, including Aung San Suu Kyi. And she is—and also Win Myint, the President. The military must relinquish the power it seized and demonstrate respect for the will of the people of Burma as expressed in their November 8 election.

So today I'm announcing a series of actions that are—we're taking to begin imposing consequences on the leaders of the coup. The U.S. Government is taking steps to prevent the generals from improperly having access to the $1 billion in Burmese Government funds held in the United States. And today I've approved a new Executive order——

[At this point, the President coughed.]

——excuse me—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.

We will identify a first round of targets this week. And we're also going to impose strong exports controls. And 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. So I thank you all. I wanted to have that statement before I got in the vehicle to go out to the Pentagon. And I'm sure I'll see some of you at the Pentagon. Thanks for coming over on such short notice. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:22 p.m. in the South Court Auditorium of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building. In his remarks, he referred to State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma. He also referred to Executive Order 14014.

Joseph R. Biden, Remarks on the Situation in Burma Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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