Saturday, 13 October 2007

Dreary Burmese days

China may have finally joined much of the world in condemning Burma's brutal regime for its recent actions, but the move is too little, too late. Is most hope already lost for the pro-democracy movement in the nation also known as Myanmar?

Following protests by monks and others, the military government jailed many religious figures and participants in the uprising. Now, nearly all major democracy activists have been arrested. Virtually no progress has been made in the area of human rights.

Sadly, it seems that mass protests don't always spark revolution, or even minor political change; but, if the protests are large enough, they do alert the world to the cause of the protesters. Protests can also be countered by pro-government rallies — there was a government-created rally held earlier today, in which tens of thousands participated.

Meanwhile, on the diplomatic front, the special UN envoy to Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, who visited Burma after protests heated up in September, is due to visit the country later this year. The nation's rich natural resources, especially its energy deposits, has allowed it to escape much pressure from international behemoths like China and India. The ASEAN bloc has been overly lax in its condemnation of the military junta, just as south African nations haven't put enough pressure on the deplorable state of Zimbabwe. The least that can be done internationally is ceasing the selling of arms to the nation.

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