Tuesday, October 02, 2007

What can we do regarding the current crisis in Burma (Myanmar)

On the issue of the Burmese military reprisals, a couple of friends who are involved in a certain group with me, raise the question of what actions can be taken, other than press releases and candlelit vigils condemning the violence. As one of them writes, "time is running out".

It is pretty clear to all of us, I think, that expressions of outrage do not move the Junta in Burma

So there are only the following options:

1. An economic embargo - however, we know from past experience that such embargoes hit the poorest the hardest, and that regimes know very well how to insulate themselves from the effects of such embargoes.

2. Military intervention - distasteful as that is, it is an option. However, it is clear that, at present, both this and an economic embargo will be "vetoed" by China (so far, India has not shown itself to be an enthusiastic supporter of democratisation either!)

3. Economic sanctions against countries that implicitly and explicitly support the Junta in Burma - and that is China and India. Again, I remain hopeful, but I doubt that the international community will want to understand the logic of such a move, let alone marshall the moral courage and political will to do this.

4. Somehow persuade the Junta that it is in THEIR interest to open up - we have found this difficult to do in the case of, e.g. Iran and Korea. But it is not impossible, and even North Korea seems to be ready to shift...so perhaps we should exercise our joint creative intelligence and wisdom on the sorts of offers to the Junta that would entice them to change.

Barring that, I'm afraid I am pretty pessimistic that we on the outside can do anything much in practical terms.

The resolution of the issue is largely in the hands of the people of Burma. The question is whether their moral strength and capacity for sacrifice is greater than the Junta's devilish strength and capacity to inflict suffering. It was exactly the same question that faced the Protestant Reformers who wanted to free sixteenth century Europe from the military/ economic/ political hold of the Roman Catholic Church, as I have pointed out elsewhere.

However, we should certainly go on candlelit vigils and write letters of protest and so on, in order to keep up the pressure (such as it is) on the Junta.

Perhaps one practical step could be to publish a tally of the number of countries where protests are being mounted outside the Burmese, Chinese and Indian Embassies.... Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

Free Burma! said...

Free Burma!
International Bloggers' Day for Burma on the 4th of October

International bloggers are preparing an action to support the peaceful revolution in Burma. We want to set a sign for freedom and show our sympathy for these people who are fighting their cruel regime without weapons. These Bloggers are planning to refrain from posting to their blogs on October 4 and just put up one Banner then, underlined with the words „Free Burma!“.