The military’s brazen return is a reminder that for all the abuses committed by Myanmar’s clutch of generals during their decades in power — systematic oppression of ethnic minorities, massacres of pro-democracy protesters, the dismantlement of a once promising economy — not a single high-ranking military officer has been fully held to account in the courts.
Barbara Woodward, the United Nations ambassador for Britain, which holds the Security Council presidency for February, said that the Council would meet on Tuesday about the crisis in Myanmar. “We’ll want to have as constructive a discussion as possible and look at a range of measures,” she said, and she would not rule out possible sanctions against the coup instigators.
“We want to move back toward respect for the democratic will of the people,” the ambassador told reporters.
In Washington, Mr. Biden’s statement clearly suggested that the U.S. government would also consider reimposing sanctions if the coup were not reversed, saying that the United States “removed sanctions on Burma over the past decade based on progress toward democracy.”
But some officials, speaking on background because they were not authorized to talk to the press, noted that even if Western sanctions were to be restored, their effects could be muted by China. The Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei is building Myanmar’s 5G telecommunications networks over the objections of the United States, and China has dominated the building of dams, pipelines and energy projects.
On Monday, as dusk fell on a nation still in shock over the military takeover, the old fears and survival tactics emerged again, unpracticed but still within muscle memory. Individuals took down their National League for Democracy flags. They spoke in code.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the minister of health, who had been appointed by the National League for Democracy, submitted his resignation “as per the evolving situation.” By evening, the military began rounding up National League for Democracy lawmakers from their housing in the capital, Naypyidaw. On Tuesday, officials in the party confirmed that Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi was confined to her villa in Naypyidaw.