Sunday, October 07, 2007

The International Community Needs a Conscience

By Stanford Matthews
Blog @

More than one month ago continued reports of trouble in Burma were in the press, Protesting Continues in Burma Despite Crackdown. About the same President Bush issued preliminary comments, Bush Urges Burma to Stop Intimidating Citizens , that may have served as a warning shot accross the bow. The next report, US, Indonesia Urge China, India to Press Burma , may have overdone the warning theme and similar to other nation's impotent responses suggest with or without the United Nations there is little in the way of peer pressure on the international stage.

An almost unnoticed statement from the UN, UN Human Rights Chief Voices Concern About Violations In DRC, Iran and Burma , demonstrates the useless rhetoric that appears to be the norm in these situations and likewise the norm of those who warrant the verbal chastisement to ignore the warning. It all seems to choreographed as if all the participants share the guilt equally.

The second and third week of September witnessed a dramatic decrease in world chatter over the worsening crisis in Burma. But in the third week with most officials having no excuse to be unaware of the problem a convenient event also provided no excuse for an organized response by the UN, World Leaders Address UN General Assembly. The members were already together for other business and it lasted until October 3rd, UN General Assembly Annual Debate Concludes , with over 100 heads of state ignoring the Burma problem as it continued to develop.

ASEAN Under Pressure to Press Burma Against Violence, 'Burma's neighbors worried military's crackdown on protesters, which began Wednesday, could lead to massive bloodshed.' That was the 26th of September and as recently as late August it was not a secret that trouble was brewing in Burma that would probably require international intervention. The headlines below illuminate the days leading up to the military violence against Burmese citizens.

Bush Announces New Sanctions on Burma
US to Increase Sanctions Against Burma; Protests Continue in Rangoon
Burma Threatens Action Against Protesting Monks
Thousands of Burmese Join Monks in Massive Protest

On the day the violence erupted, US, EU Ask UN to Consider New Burma Sanctions, while the response was, UN Security Council Urges Restraint Against Burmese Protesters. as if the crisis had just begun but the truth is, Burma Crackdown Condemned, but Not Unexpected. While the Bush Administration may be able to state they did something, US Condemns Burmese Military, Imposes Sanctions , most of the world's nations are guilty of adopting the common UN-like approach, Burma's Neighbors in SE Asia Express 'Revulsion' Over Crackdown. Expressing reactions or sentiments rather than taking decisive action capable of forcing an end to the violence is simply wrong.

Long about the beginning of October, a senior envoy from the UN spends three or more days in Burma, gets snubbed by General Shwe, wastes time with photo ops with Burma's leading dissenter who has been under house arrest for a long time and then heads back to report to the UN. Then the US sends an envoy describing her style as a no nonsense approach. As of this writing the results of that effort are not known. What is known is the latest UN response to the Burmese crisis.

UN Envoy Warns Burma of Serious International Consequences
US Warns Of Sanctions If Burma Does Not Cooperate With International Community
Global Protests Against Burma off to Slow Start, but Burma Shows Conciliatory Signs

And as of October 7th, Crackdown Continues in Burma, Diplomatic Debate Rages Abroad
How lame and predictable is all of this?