The Biden administration has announced the suspension of its trade deal with Myanmar following a weekend of violence against pro-democracy protesters.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai made the announcement:
“The United States supports the people of Burma in their efforts to restore a democratically elected government, which has been the foundation of Burma’s economic growth and reform,” Tai said in the statement.
“The United States strongly condemns the Burmese security forces’ brutal violence against civilians. The killing of peaceful protestors, students, workers, labor leaders, medics, and children has shocked the conscience of the international community. These actions are a direct assault on the country’s transition to democracy and the efforts of the Burmese people to achieve a peaceful and prosperous future.”
Thousands took to the streets of Myanmar to protest the military’s arrest of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and its absolute seizure of power. At least 144 civilians, including children, were killed in demonstrations protesting the military coup. Thousands more were taken into custody.
The trade suspension comes after Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced new sanctions against members of Myanmar’s military last week.
Bliken credited Myanmar’s chief of police, Than Hlaing, and its Bureau of Special Operations commander, Lt. Gen. Aung Soe, as well as two army units “for being responsible for or complicit in or having directly or indirectly engaged or attempted to engage in, actions or policies that prohibit, limit, or penalize the exercise of freedom of expression or assembly by people in Burma,” a statement from Blinken said.
On Sunday, President Joe Biden condemned the violence.
“Based on the reporting that I got, an awful lot of people have been killed totally unnecessarily,” Biden told reporters.