Beyond ‘deploring’ Burma’s ‘unjust decision’
Washington Post Editorial
13 August 2009
The military junta’s decision on Tuesday to extend for another 18 months the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s rightful ruler, came as no surprise. She frightens Gen. Than Shwe and his cronies. No doubt they cannot understand her popularity, humility or moral courage. So they keep her locked up, as they have for most of the years since her democratic party won, and was cheated out of, an overwhelming electoral victory in 1990.
(…)The armed forces routinely wage war against ethnic groups, with rape and forced labor among the favored weapons. Do the leaders of other nations, who a few years back puffed out their chests and took upon themselves the “responsibility to protect” the vulnerable populations of the world, have any response?
There are measures that could be tried: coordinated financial sanctions aimed at the leaders who profit from their compatriots’ misery, for example, or a real arms embargo—particularly apt given recent reports of Burmese cooperation with North Korea in nuclear affairs.
(…)Russia and China, defenders of despots, would be obstacles, but perhaps not insuperable ones, if the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe made this a priority.
And where is the United States? Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced early in her tenure a review of US policy toward Burma. While the sham trial of Aung San Suu Kyi was taking place, that review was suspended, leaving the administration surprisingly unready to respond to Tuesday’s events. The review will be resumed now—with, we would hope, a sense of urgency that has been wanting so far.