As part of measures aimed at punishing alleged plotters of a military coup in Myanmar, the United States has imposed sanctions on the country’s acting president and several other military officers.
Washington, on Thursday, blacklisted eight individuals, including the defense and home affairs ministers, imposed additional sanctions on the top two military officials, and targeted three companies in the jade and gems sector, according to the Treasury Department’s website.
The action came hours after Myanmar’s new junta leader called on civil servants to return to work and urged people to stop mass gatherings in line with measures introduced to mitigate the spread of coronavirus after the sixth day of protests against him and his coup spanned the Southeast Asian country.
The coup and the detention of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi along with scores of others have prompted the biggest demonstrations since a 2007 “Saffron Revolution” that ultimately became a step towards now halted democratic change.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing addressed the protests for the first time in public, blaming “unscrupulous persons” for stoppages in a growing civil disobedience movement by medics, teachers, railway workers, and many other government employees.
“Those who are away from their duties are requested to return to their duties immediately for the interests of the country and people without focusing on the emotion,” he said.
In a statement issued by the army’s information service, he also urged people to avoid gatherings, which he said, would fuel the spread of the coronavirus.
Protesters gathered across the country on Thursday with hundreds of workers lined on a road in the capital Naypyitaw, chanting anti-junta slogans and carrying placards supporting Suu Kyi. Thousands demonstrated in the main city of Yangon, some taking a humorous approach, such as men dressed in short skirts.