Obama deplores 'illegitimate' military rule in Myanmar, calls violence on civilians 'heartbreaking'

He said the military's brutal effort to impose its will on the people shouldn't be accepted by the world.

Kayla Wong | April 27, 2021, 12:41 PM

Former U.S. President Barack Obama has spoken out against the Myanmar coup, saying he was "appalled by heartbreaking violence against civilians".

In a statement released on Monday, Apr. 26 (local U.S. time), he further condemned the military, saying its "illegitimate and brutal effort to impose its will after a decade of greater freedoms" will not be accepted by the people, and should not be accepted by the world.

The military regime started opening up its economy a decade ago in 2011, and introduced a quasi-democratic arrangement that shared power with the civilian government, albeit keeping control over the key defence, home affairs and border affairs ministries.

That arrangement, however, broke down when the military conducted a coup on Feb. 1 earlier this year, claiming election fraud in last November's polls that saw the Aung San Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy (NLD) win a landslide victory.

Obama further said "a murderous regime rejected by the people will only bring greater instability, humanitarian crisis, and the risk of a failed state", and urged neighbouring countries to recognise this.

He also voiced his support for the "efforts" by the Biden administration to impose costs on the military, referring to the sanctions the U.S. and the UK have placed on top military generals and two military-owned conglomerates.

Lastly, Obama said while these are "dark times", he is moved by the "unity" and "resilience" of the Myanmar people, who had shown "commitment to democratic values".

After Myanmar opened up in 2011, Obama visited the country twice, in 2012 and 2014.

According to rights group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), at least 753 civilians had been killed by the military since their crackdown on protesters in the wake of the Feb. 1 coup.

More than 4,480 people have been detained for voicing out against the coup and military rule, including Suu Kyi.

Top image via Obama White House