How to respond to military violence in Myanmar?
Military violence came to a head in Myanmar at the weekend, when more than 100 people were killed by soldiers in the deadliest crackdown yet. The UN Security Council has convened a meeting to discuss the situation on Wednesday. The US has already suspended a framework trade agreement with the country and is apparently preparing to tighten existing sanctions. Several European states have condemned the violence.
Mass murderers should not feel safe
The West has few options to intervene but it must use them, Dagens Nyheter stresses:
“The EU's entry ban for certain generals won't stop any massacres. US sanctions against two military-owned business conglomerates are a more promising method, because this will make it harder for the junta and its beadles to line their pockets. But this doesn't mean that they will repent and retreat. The risk is that ruthless violence against unarmed civilians will escalate. But mass murderers should never have the certainty that they will escape international justice. And the population of Myanmar will never forget.”
Hold the junta accountable
The bloody crimes ordered by the generals must not go unpunished, The Irish Times admonishes:
“The army is a privileged state within a state, utterly convinced of its duty to defend a Buddhist Bamar ethnic majority rule in Myanmar. ... The UN Special Rapporteur for Myanmar says the army is carrying out 'mass murder' and calls on the world to isolate the junta and cut access to weapons and funding from oil and gas. It is crucial that Ireland on the UN Security Council supports immediate enforcement of an arms embargo against Myanmar and the referral of military leaders including General Min Aung Hlaing, the junta leader, to the International Criminal Court.”
The generals also have friends
Myanmar's armed forces paraded for Armed Forces Day on Saturday. A look at the different takes on the event is revealing, comments La Stampa:
“In some Moscow media it was portrayed as a parade of Russian exports. The shopping list for the last twenty years included some thirty MiG-29 aircraft, a dozen helicopters and eight Pechora-2M anti-aircraft missile systems. These weapons were used in the fight against ethnic groups along the borders. ... But since Myanmar's entire society has chosen to demonstrate against the coup of February 1, the repression has turned against the country's own citizens. The fact that many countries turned their backs on the generals in the face of the violence made those attending the military parade even more visible: not just Russia, ... but also China, India, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Vietnam and Laos.”
Courageous fight for democracy
The demonstrators are showing great bravery, Polityka writes in praise:
“The fact that the protests in Myanmar have been going on for almost two months despite increasing repression, an economic crisis and a lack of concessions is a great success for society and proof of the protestors' commitment to democracy. ... It also testifies to the failure of the army, which can win neither the hearts nor the minds of the citizens. It can't even intimidate them, although - at least until now - that seemed to be about the only thing this hive of corruption could do. Even the bloody confrontations have failed to quash the protests, although there is no doubt that the slightest sign of opposition to the military authorities could mean death.”