Malaysia: The United States is considering new measures to pressure the Myanmar junta to return to a “democratic trajectory”, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday, as alarm grows over an escalating crackdown on dissent.
Myanmar has been in chaos since February when Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government was ousted by the military.
The United States has imposed some sanctions and regional bloc the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has drawn up a peace roadmap, but there are serious doubts about the generals’ commitment.
Speaking during a visit to Malaysia — among several ASEAN states that have strongly criticised the coup — Blinken conceded that the “situation has not improved”.
“I think it is going to be very important in the weeks and months ahead to look at what additional steps and measures we can take — individually, collectively — to pressure the regime to put the country back on a democratic trajectory,” he said.
“That is something that we are looking at,” he added, without saying what the measures might be.
The coup triggered nationwide protests but the junta has responded with a brutal crackdown that has left more than 1,300 people dead and seen thousands arrested, according to a local monitor.
Blinken also said the United States was looking “very actively” at whether the treatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Buddhist-majority Myanmar might “constitute genocide”.
The group faces widespread discrimination in Myanmar, and hundreds of thousands fled to neighbouring Bangladesh in 2017 following a military crackdown.