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Oct 21, 2007

New Sanctions on Burma

Aung San Suu Kyi.

"Suu Kyi Could make General Petraeus look wimpy."

PRESIDENT George W. Bush today announced tighter US sanctions on Burma's military rulers and urged China and India to step up pressure on the junta to end repression of pro-democracy activists.
"Burma's rulers continue to defy the world's just demand to stop their vicious persecution," he said at the White House. "Business as usual is unacceptable."

Mr. Bush was joined by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and, more unusually for a statement of this sort, by First Lady Laura Bush, who has been a leading US voice of criticism of the junta in Rangoon.

"I am proud of Laura for all she has done to awaken the conscience of the world to the plight of the Burmese people," the President said. "We must not turn a deaf ear to their cries."

It is pleasing to see more international action against this regime. Many countries through the world have non-democratic governments, and while democracy probably offers the best chance of human rights it is no guarantee, witness Zimbabwe. No system of government offers a guarantee in the human rights arena as all systems can be abused.

Democracy is only just when backed by a solid constitution guaranteeing the rights of the people and limiting the power of that government to encroach on those rights.

This country however while maintaining power purely by force systematically abuses the rights and indeed the lives of its people. Personally I feel somewhat inadequate when I consider the general ambivalence toward the plight of these people in the past, while seeing Aung San Suu Kyi, apparently a small delicate woman standing in the path of these brutes and suffering for it, but never giving up.

Looks can be deceptive though, Suu Kyi could make General Petraeus look wimpy.

Among the moves this time is a freezing of the assets of a number of junta members, moving to prevent the import of Burmese gemstones from third countries and moves are afoot to force energy giant Chevron to leave. I am not sure that the latter is a good idea as while it may feel good it will probably benefit the regime by picking up a valuable asset at fire sale rates.

All efforts should be made by all countries of goodwill to pressure these people out.

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