The Biden administration warned on Sunday that the U.S. would “take action” if the military continued along its present course, saying those detained should be released immediately.
The statements come after Myanmar’s military detained several top civilian leaders in the country, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party fared well in the November election. Many involved with the coup claimed the election was fraudulent, and the takeover happened just as the parliamentary session was set to begin.
The military takeover is a sharp reversal in the progress that Myanmar has made toward democracy in recent years. Before recent changes, the country had decades of military rule.
From 1962-2011, the U.S. restricted bilateral relations to encourage democratic rule. In late 2016, after consulting with Suu Kyi, the Obama administration lifted many of these sanctions because of progress toward democracy.
Since then, some members of Congress have pushed for more restrictions because of human rights violations. The U.S. put sanctions on the military chief in Myanmar in 2019 over the vicious crackdown on the long-persecuted Rohingya Muslims, in which thousands were killed.
That leader, Min Aung Hlaing, has played a central role in the attempted military takeover.