Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement of support for the people of Burma as they celebrated their Independence Day on January 4. “We honor the people of Burma who are striving to restore an inclusive path to democracy, respect for human rights, and the rule of law for all people in the country,” he said. “The United States remains committed to the people of Burma, who will not give up hope for a better future, even as they suffer horrific abuses by the regime.”
The regime’s violence has continued to escalate since the Burmese military seized control of Burma’s government in a coup d'état on February 1, 2021, deposing the country’s former leaders State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, and members of their political party the National League for Democracy, which won a landslide victory in the November 2020 general elections. Since the coup, 10,000 people have been imprisoned by the regime and at least 1,300 have been killed, including many children.
On December 24, the regime’s security forces perpetrated a particularly horrifying atrocity in Kayah State. The Burmese military killed and burned at least 35 people, including women, children, and staff members of international aid organizations, including two from Save the Children. Their charred bodies were found on Christmas Day. The incident caused international outrage, including by members of the UN Security Council who condemned the killing and “stressed the need to ensure accountability for this act.”
Tragically, the regime continues to perpetrate horrific incidents. The military has fired on peaceful protesters; burned homes; abducted and killed children; physically abused and committed sexual violence against detainees; and razed entire villages.
In a separate statement issued after the Christmas Eve attacks in Kayah State, Secretary Blinken said, “The targeting of innocent people and humanitarian actors is unacceptable, and the military’s widespread atrocities against the people of Burma underscore the urgency of holding its members accountable.”
Secretary Blinken noted that since February 1, 2021, the United States has imposed targeted sanctions against Burmese military leaders and entities in which they have financial interests, and he called on the international community to do more to prevent additional atrocities in Burma.
In his statement marking Burma’s Independence Day, Secretary Blinken called on the military regime “to cease immediately the use of violence, release all those unjustly detained, and return Burma’s path to genuine and inclusive democracy.”