Promoting Accountability and Responding to Violence against Protestors in Burma

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

For the past five weeks, the people of Burma have taken to the streets to protest peacefully and voice their aspirations for a return to democracy and the rule of law.  In response, Burmese security forces – at the behest of military leaders – have brutally and lethally attacked unarmed protesters, killing at least 53 people since the coup.  We condemn these horrific attacks.  We condemn the ongoing arrests and the detentions of more than 1,700 political leaders, doctors, human rights defenders, journalists, union leaders, and regular people exercising their rights.  And we condemn the military leadership that has enabled this violence against its own people.

Today, the United States is taking further actions to respond to the violence enabled by Burma’s military leaders, to promote accountability for those responsible for the coup, and to target those who benefit financially from their connections to the military regime.  Thus, the United States is designating the two adult children of armed forces Commander-in-Chief (CINC) Min Aung Hlaing, Aung Pyae Sone and Khin Thiri Thet Mon, as well as six entities owned or controlled by these individuals, pursuant to Executive Order 14014.  Aung Pyae Sone and Khin Thiri Thet Mon have long used their connections to the CINC for personal enrichment.  The leaders of the coup, and their adult family members, should not be able to continue to derive benefits from the regime as it resorts to violence and tightens its stranglehold on democracy.

We will continue to work with a broad coalition of international partners to promote accountability for coup leaders, those responsible for this violence and other abuses, and those who benefit financially from the regime.  We will not hesitate to take further action against those who instigate violence and suppress the will of the people.  These sanctions are directed at those responsible for the coup, in support of the people of Burma.

This builds on March 4 actions by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) to establish new restrictions on exports and reexports to Burma, and transfers within Burma, of sensitive items subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).  BIS also added to the Entity List two entities responsible for the coup – the Ministries of Defense and Home Affairs – as well as two military-operated entities, Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) and Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL).

The United States calls on the international community to speak with one voice in support of the people of Burma who, in spite of the brutal violence perpetrated by Burmese security forces, continue to demonstrate courage and determination in their efforts to reject the military coup.  We urge the military to restore the democratically elected government, cease all attacks on peaceful protesters, immediately release all those unjustly detained, and stop attacks on and intimidation of journalists, civil servants, and activists.

For more information about today’s actions, see the Treasury Department’s press release .

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    In U.S GAO News
    Through Operation Warp Speed—a partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Defense (DOD)—the federal government is accelerating efforts to develop vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19. A typical vaccine development process can take approximately 10 years or longer, but efforts under Operation Warp Speed seek to greatly accelerate this process by completing key steps simultaneously (see figure). As of October 15, 2020, Operation Warp Speed publicly announced financial support for the development or manufacturing of six COVID-19 vaccine candidates totaling more than $10 billion in obligations. It has also announced financial support for the development of therapeutics, such as a $450 million award to manufacture a monoclonal antibody treatment (a treatment that uses laboratory-made antibodies, which also may be able to serve as a prevention option). Operation Warp Speed Timeline for a Potential Vaccine Candidate Note: An Emergency Use Authorization allows for emergency use of medical products without FDA approval or licensure during a declared emergency, provided certain statutory criteria are met. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may temporarily allow the use of unlicensed or unapproved COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics through emergency use authorizations (EUA), provided there is evidence that the products may be effective and that known and potential benefits outweigh known and potential risks. For vaccines, FDA issued guidance in October 2020 to provide vaccine sponsors with recommendations regarding the evidence FDA needed to support issuance of an EUA. For therapeutics, FDA has issued four EUAs as of November 9, 2020. The evidence to support FDA's COVID-19 therapeutic authorization decisions has not always been transparent, in part because FDA does not uniformly disclose its scientific review of safety and effectiveness data for EUAs, as it does for approvals for new drugs and biologics. Given the gravity of the pandemic, it is important that FDA identify ways to uniformly disclose this information to the public. By doing so, FDA could help improve the transparency of, and ensure public trust in, its EUA decisions. The U.S. had about 10.3 million cumulative reported cases of COVID-19 and about 224,000 reported deaths as of November 12, 2020. Given this catastrophic loss of life as well as the pandemic's effects on the U.S. economy, effective and safe vaccines and therapeutics are more important than ever. The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to report on its ongoing monitoring and oversight efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This report examines, (1) efforts of Operation Warp Speed to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutic development; and (2) FDA's use of EUAs for COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines, among other objectives. GAO reviewed federal laws and agency documents, including HHS and DOD information on vaccine and therapeutic development and EUAs as of November 2020. GAO interviewed or received written responses from HHS and DOD officials, and interviewed representatives from vaccine developers and manufacturers, as well as select public health stakeholders and provider groups covering a range of provider types. FDA should identify ways to uniformly disclose to the public the information from its scientific review of safety and effectiveness data when issuing EUAs for therapeutics and vaccines. HHS neither agreed nor disagreed with the recommendation, but said it shared GAO's goal of transparency and would explore approaches to achieve this goal. For more information, contact Mary Denigan-Macauley at (202) 512-7114 or deniganmacauleym@gao.gov, or Alyssa M. Hundrup at (202) 512-7114 or hundrupa@gao.gov.
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  • Two Individuals And Two Companies Sentenced In Scheme To Fraudulently Sell Popular Dietary Supplements
    In Crime News
    A federal court in Texas sentenced two former dietary supplement company executives to prison and ordered two companies to pay a combined $10.7 million in criminal forfeiture for their roles in fraudulently selling popular workout supplements, the Justice Department announced today.
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