The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Burma’s junta crushes protests, again

My hope over the last week was that the protests in Burma, originally led by pro-democracy groups and monks, might just bring about change in one of the world’s most oppressive political regimes.

But my fear was that the situation would become another Tiananmen Square, with a large and promising civil uprising cut short by bloodshed. Sadly, events so far seem closer to this than anything else.

It’s just on nineteen years since the last major protests in Burma — the ones that made Aung San Suu Kyi famous — although this time, the outside world was more aware that people were pushing ideas whose time had come. But since then, curfews and army crackdowns have left Rangoon’s streets silent, and cut off the flow of information out of the country (with the national Internet link cut and troops confiscating cameras and phones).

The best remaining hope appears to lie in the subtle and less visible changes brought on in the army: reports of small cases of dissent, for instance, and unconfirmed reports of disagreement among generals. Getting change out of this clearly requires outside help, but I don’t see any easy answers on what to do. Even if Western nations would consider military action, I’m not convinced it’d work, given factors like the deep fear instilled in the populace. Sanctions clearly haven’t done much, which seems to leave thus-far ineffective diplomatic pressure as the only option …

  1. The Burmese military at the moment is acting about as subtly as a single 19 year old male on a Saturday night at The Shed. Even if the uprising is quelled, the measures to do so do not seem to be sitting well with the public and I would think it would only be a matter of time before a similar situation occurred. The current international pressure has clearly not been working, and it may be time to take some more definitive action. Not as drastic as Iraq, but similar forces in Timor and the Solomons seem to be working.

  2. For sure, I’d support an East Timor-style peacekeeping force in Burma … but the problem is, that intervention didn’t go ahead until an independence deal had been agreed on with Indonesia. The Burmese military don’t seem at all interested in striking any kind of bargain, maybe because they don’t really think their grip on power is in danger. If only the protesters could regroup and somehow increase their numbers — or if only China could be convinced to stop investing and selling weapons there.

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