If it is good enough for Russia to ruthlessly suppress the freedom aspirations of the people of Chechnya and those of several of its other satellites, if it is good enough for China to indulge in never- ceasing human-rights violations (Tiananmen Square the most publicised) and a ghastly annual orgy of executions, and if it is good enough for the United States (assisted by Western allies that should know better) to crash with shock and awe into the lives of Iraqis without the consent of the UN, it has to be good enough by contemporary moral standards for the Burmese junta to suppress, with violence when necessary, the aspirations of the Burmese.
Economically dynamic ASEAN members have proved themselves toothless moral tigers. And Australia, of course, thanks to John Howard’s contempt for the value of international conventions, no longer has any weight in the morality stakes.
So, to whom can the Burmese people look for the kind of pressure that would bring the junta to heel? No one, really.
Three actions, though drawn from the realms of fantasy, could have some helpful effect: (a) simultaneous visits to Burma by the UN secretary-general and the presidents of the US, Russia and China to deliver a joint reading of the riot act; (b) the threat of dropping into Burma a tripartite military force comprising Chinese, Russian and American troops; and (c) an offer of amnesty (quite fitting considering Burma’s state religion) to all members of the military junta if they will oversee a transition to a democratic process acceptable to the Burmese people.
With no chance of any of these scenarios becoming a happening, I fear that, for all the huffing and puffing of Earth’s “statesmen”, the Burmese are a people very much on their own. May Buddha protect them.
The tragedy of the plight of the people of Burma is that none of the superpowers has even a remnant of moral authority to act in their defence.