Suu Kyi helps a brand new wave of arrests in Myanmar as Biden approves sanctions from Reuters

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© Reuters. Monks protest against the military coup in Mandalay

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(Reuters) – A close adviser to ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested in a new wave of arrests following last week’s military coup, a party official said Thursday as Washington got one step closer to sanctioning the junta .

Adjutant Kyaw Tint Swe was Minister for the Office of the State Council under Suu Kyi, who has been in jail since the February 1 coup.

Kyi Toe, a member of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) information committee, said Kyaw Tint Swe and four other people associated with the previous government were taken from their homes overnight and were the top leadership of the former electoral commission everything was done was arrested.

The military launched the coup after allegedly widespread November election fraud that the NLD won in a landslide. The electoral commission rejected these claims.

The Myanmar authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment and Reuters was unable to independently confirm the arrests. Numerous officials have been arrested since the coup, including many of NLD leaders.

Protesters gathered across the country for the sixth consecutive year on Thursday.

Hundreds of workers lined a street in the capital, Naypyitaw, to support the civil disobedience movement, chant anti-junta slogans and carry posters in support of Suu Kyi.

In keeping with the creative ethos of the recent demonstrations, with some protesters wearing ball gowns and costumes, rallies in Yangon have been attended by men and boys in short skirts. “We won’t take off our skirts until we get democracy back,” read a sign.

The protests resurrected memories of nearly half a century of direct army rule, punctuated by bloody raids by the army until the military began relinquishing power in 2011.

US SANCTIONS LOOM

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday approved an executive order introducing new sanctions against those responsible for the coup and repeated calls for the generals to give up power and free the civilian leaders.

Washington would identify the first round of targets this week and was taking steps to prevent the generals in Myanmar, also known as Burma, from having access to $ 1 billion in US-held Myanmar government funds.

“We will also put strict export controls in place. We are freezing US assets that benefit the Burmese government and continuing to support healthcare, civil society groups and other areas that directly benefit the people of Burma,” Biden told the White House.

Washington is likely to target coup leader Min Aung Hlaing and other top generals already under US sanctions imposed in 2019 for abuse of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities.

It could also target military holding companies with investments in various sectors such as banking, gems, telecommunications, and clothing.

The overthrow of the civilian government in Myanmar presents Biden with his first major international crisis and a test of his twofold commitments to re-center human rights in foreign policy and to work more closely with allies.

COLLECTIVE MEASURES

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Washington was conducting collective actions with partners in Myanmar. “We can generate significant costs ourselves. We can generate even higher costs … by working with our like-minded partners and allies,” he told a briefing.

Even so, analysts say Myanmar’s new junta won’t be as isolated as previous iterations as China, India, Southeast Asian neighbors, and Japan are unlikely to cut ties given the country’s strategic importance.

Derek Mitchell, a former US ambassador to Myanmar, said it was important to involve nations like Japan, India and Singapore in a strong response.

“The key won’t just be what America does,” he said. “It will be how we bring others together, allies who may have more skin in the game, have more influence or at least have better relationships with the key players.”

The United Nations’ highest human rights body will examine a resolution drafted by the UK and the European Union on Friday condemning the coup and calling for urgent access for observers.

Diplomats said, however, that China and Russia – both of which have ties to Myanmar’s armed forces – are expected to object or try to weaken the text.

75-year-old Suu Kyi won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her campaign for democracy and is still very popular at home, although her international reputation has been damaged by the plight of the Rohingyas.

She has been under house arrest for nearly 15 years and is now charged with illegally importing six walkie-talkies. Her lawyer says he wasn’t allowed to see her.

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