Biden threatens new sanctions on Myanmar

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Aerobics instructor Khing Hnin Wai dances through Myanmar's military coup in a workout video.

"The military's seizure of power in Burma, the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian officials, and the declaration of a national state of emergency are a direct assault on the country's transition to democracy and the rule of law", Biden said in his statement, calling on the worldwide community to "come together in one voice to press the Burmese military" to relinquish power, free political prisoners, reopen communications and refrain from violence.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, is in Southeast Asia and neighbours Thailand, Laos, Bangladesh, China and India. In the Burmese language, "Myanmar" is simply the more formal version of "Burma".

There were few signs of extra security in Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, indicating the generals' belief that, for now, they faced no mass protests.

The main religion is Buddhism.

For generations, the country was called Burma, after the dominant Burman ethnic group. That was for vicious attacks that have sent hundreds of thousands of Myanmar's Rohingya minority fleeing the country.

The country was ruled by the armed forces until 2011, when a nominally civilian government was sworn in.

Vice President Myint Swe, a former member of the army, declared a state of emergency as acting president.

Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy took 396 out of 476 seats in a landslide victory late past year but the military has refused to accept the result.

Up until now, their accusations of electoral fraud have been baseless, without a single ounce of evidence to back up their claims.

The NLD won more than 80 percent of the vote in November, increasing its support from the 2015 elections.

The military also announced that it was dismissing the present government and transferring power to commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing because of "election fraud".

The US and several other countries have threatened Myanmar with severe sanctions in response.

"That will likely soften the blow of any US sanctions, which Min Aung Hlaing has doubtless already anticipated and dismissed".

The military has already replaced numerous ministers and deputies, including in finance, health, the interior and foreign affairs.

The group acknowledges Suu Kyi has faced harsh criticism from the worldwide community for the military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in the country's west.

She spent almost 15 years in detention between 1989 and 2010 after organising rallies calling for peaceful democratic reform and free elections.

When she disputed allegations at the U.N. International Court of Justice at The Hague just over a year ago that army personnel killed Rohingya civilians, torched houses and raped women, fellow Nobel Prize victor Jody Williams saw it as a betrayal. Suu Kyi has spent years advocating for democracy in the country, and was placed under house arrest by the military in 1989.

But her worldwide image collapsed during her time in power as she defended the Rohingya crackdown.

But she said that the United States is "having daily ongoing conversations" with Japan and India, close U.S. partners that 'have better contact with the Burmese military than we do'.

She has not been seen since she was detained in pre-dawn raids on Monday, and is believed to be under house arrest.

The army's actions have been met with a growing chorus of worldwide condemnation although the options are limited for those nations hoping Myanmar's generals might reverse course.

Biden administration officials had held off on describing the military's weekend roundup as an outright takeover.

The Australian government is facing fresh calls to suspend all military ties with Myanmar until democracy has been restored following a coup.

But not everyone has reacted in this way.

On Monday, Myanmar workers rallied at their embassy in Bangkok, many wearing red masks with a peacock print in the color and symbol of the NLD.

Aung worries that protestors who speak out inside the country face certain violence if the global community doesm't act.

Prior to the announcement of the SAC, Min Aung Hlaing attended a meeting with the appointed ministers on Tuesday and said, "We must lead the country until a new government is formed after the next general election".

He tweeted: "I condemn the coup and unlawful imprisonment of civilians, including Aung San Suu Kyi, in Myanmar".

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