The U.S. State Department has ordered the departure of unnecessary diplomats from Myanmar, it said in a statement on Tuesday, amid violence against protesters who have killed hundreds since the country’s military coup began.
Daily rallies across Myanmar of unarmed protesters demanding the restoration of the elected government and the release of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi have been met with tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds.
“The Burmese military has detained and removed elected government officials. Protests and demonstrations against military rule have taken place and are expected to continue,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement by Myanmar’s former name Burma.
In mid-February, the State Department approved a “voluntary departure for non-emergency U.S. government employees and their family members,” the statement said, adding that the department “updated that status to ordered resignation.”
The civilian death toll from the military closure has now passed 520, with world powers reinforcing their condemnation of the military’s campaign in the wake of the February 1 coup.
“The State Department made the decision to approve ordered departure from Burma because the safety and security of U.S. government personnel and their relatives as well as private U.S. citizens is the department’s highest priority,” a spokesman said.
The ordered departure status will be reviewed in steps of 30 days, the spokesman added.
The United States, Britain and the EU have imposed sanctions in response to coups and aggregation, but so far diplomatic pressure has not persuaded the generals to ease.