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Germany, US, EU condemn Myanmar coup

February 1, 2021

The international community has criticized Monday's coup in Myanmar, urging the army to release all political leaders. Germany said the military's actions "jeopardize progress made so far toward democratic change."

Heiko Maas, Ursula von der Leyen, Boris Johnson
World leaders have condemned the apparent coup in Myanmar

Governments around the world have condemned Monday's coup in Myanmar, urging the military to respect the result of November's election and free jailed political leaders.

The army announced earlier that it had seized power and declared a one-year state of emergency, detaining key figures such as Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called on military commanders to respect the country's democratic institutions and to release arrested members of the government and parliament.

"I strongly condemn the seizure of power and the accompanying arrests by the military in Myanmar," Maas said. "The military's actions jeopardize the progress made so far toward democratic change in Myanmar."

Condemnation for the coup also came from the United States, Australia, Britain, the EU, India, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. 

Washington warned it "will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed."

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Biden administration opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of the November vote.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the US will take action if the coup is not reversedImage: Alex Brandon/AP Photo/picture alliance

The results handed Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) an overwhelming landslide win, but sparked allegations of vote irregularities by the losing military-backed party.

Newly appointed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also called on Myanmar's military "to release all government officials and civil society leaders and respect the will of the people."

"These developments represent a serious blow to democratic reforms in Myanmar," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

EU, UK join voices of criticism

Senior EU officials added their voices to the calls for the November parliamentary vote to be respected.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said "the legitimate civilian government must be restored, in line with the country's constitution."

"I call for the immediate & unconditional release of all those detained," she said on Twitter.

“I strongly condemn the coup carried out by the Myanmar military and call for the immediate release of those detained," said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. "Myanmar's people want democracy. The EU stands with them."

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said: "The transfer of legislative, executive and judicial power to the army is an unacceptable threat to the democratic process that was started about 10 years ago." 

On Twitter, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the coup and Suu Kyi’s imprisonment.

"The vote of the people must be respected and civilian leaders released," he wrote.

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1948.

Turkey points to Rohingya plight

Turkey's government, which was the target of an attempted coup in 2016, has said it "strongly condemns" the Myanmar military's "seizure of power" and that it "opposes any kind of coup and military intervention."

"We hope this dire development will not worsen the situation of Rohingya Muslims living under severe conditions in Myanmar," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Some 740,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar for Bangladesh following a military crackdown three years ago in what the United Nations has said could be a genocide. News of Aung San Suu Kyi's detention spread quickly through the camps, with some celebrating the move.

"She is the reason behind all of our suffering. Why shouldn’t we celebrate? " community leader Farid Ullah told news agency AFP from Kutupalong, the world's largest refugee settlement.

Yanghee Lee, a former UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, told DW the international community could respond to the military takeover with an arms embargo, but that the measures could hit citizens the hardest.

"They suffered crimes against humanity, war crimes, and there was a genocide in Rakhine. There's still a war ongoing and people have already suffered from a lack of access to basic fundamental human rights," he told DW.

Myanmar military blockaded the country's parliament
A military blockade was set up outside Myanmar's parliament on Monday morningImage: AFP via Getty Images

China, which regularly opposes UN intervention in Myanmar, called for all sides to "resolve differences."

Beijing is one of Myanmar's most important economic partners and has invested billions of dollars in mines, infrastructure and gas pipelines in the Southeast Asian nation.

"China is a friendly neighbor of Myanmar and hopes the various parties in Myanmar will appropriately resolve their differences under the constitutional and legal framework to protect political and social stability," Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a press briefing on Monday.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed "grave concern" about the latest developments, adding hopes that all parties would "exercise restraint."

Japan's Foreign Ministry called on the military government to "restore democracy as soon as possible."

"The Japanese government has up to now strongly supported the democratic process in Myanmar, and opposes any reversal of
that process," it said in a statement.

However, the Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia called the situation was an "internal matter."

bj, jf/nm (AFP, AP, Reuters) 

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