The United States has imposed sanctions on two more generals involved in the February 1 military coup in Myanmar and said it did not rule out additional action after hundreds of thousands took to the streets on Monday despite the threat of violence.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said on Monday the action was “in response to the security forces’ killing of peaceful protesters” after two people were killed over the weekend, and a 23-year-old woman died from her injuries after being shot in the head on February 9.
The sanctions penalise Lieutenant General Moe Myint Tun and General Maung Maung Kyaw who are members of the State Administrative Council (SAC), which the military set up to rule the country after seizing power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
“Today’s designations are another step to promote accountability for military leaders who perpetrate violence and attempt to suppress the will of the people,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter.
The coup has triggered days of mass protests in towns and cities across Myanmar and an increasing campaign of civil disobedience in which doctors, teachers, engineers and other civil servants have stopped work.
The new sanctions freeze any assets that Moe Myint Tun and Maung Maung Kyaw might have in the US and bar US companies and individuals from doing business with them. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who led the coup, was among 10 generals singled out for sanctions on February 11.
The move followed enormous protests on Monday that brought millions onto the streets despite threats broadcast on state television that accused the protesters of “inciting the people” onto a “confrontation path where they will suffer the loss of life”.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which has been tracking detentions since the coup, said 684 people have now been arrested, charged or sentenced since the military seized control of the country. Some 637 remain in custody.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US could not rule out further action and again condemned the use of force against peaceful protesters. “There may be additional policy levers we can pull when it comes to our goal of supporting the people of Burma,” he said, using the country’s old name.
“The int’l community must persist with strategic and targeted sanctions on military leaders, military-linked businesses and crony businesses in a timely manner – esp EU,” Progressive Voice, a Myanmar rights and advocacy group wrote on Twitter. “International financial institutions play a role too – end dealings w/ military and recall their loans.”
The European Union, at a foreign ministers’ meeting on Monday agreed to impose selected sanctions on Myanmar’s military leaders but has yet to release the details.
The United Kingdom, meanwhile, summoned the Myanmar ambassador to London for the second time in a month to condemn the coup and the response to the protests.
“The minister for Asia condemned the response by the Myanmar Security Forces to the peaceful protests,” a foreign office spokesperson said, referring to Britain’s Asia minister Nigel Adams.
“He stressed that the use of violence and force against protesters, which has already led to death and serious injury, was completely reprehensible and must stop.”