Burmese security forces continued to round up Buddhist monks and other activists in Yangon on Thursday, a week after a crackdown put an end to massive pro-democracy demonstrations. "They're looking for the people who led the demonstrations,” said Win Min, who fled Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, during a crackdown on a 1988 uprising. “The people clapping will only get a minimal punishment -- maybe two to five years."
What began as a hopeful and peaceful pro-democracy uprising, said the Calgary Herald in an editorial, has ended in a nightmare of brutal repression. And “an Internet blackout” has “silenced” news of the military junta’s worst “atrocities.” Dissidents and defectors tell horrific tales of dozens -- if not hundreds -- of monks who have been beaten to death or shot -- the world must do more than condemn the regime. All nations -- including the generals’ key ally, China -- must follow up their words with sanctions and diplomatic pressure.
The generals seem “to have won the first round,” said Marc Hujer, Jurgen Kremb, and Andreas Lorenz of the German magazine Der Spiegel on Salon.com. “Nevertheless, the junta is still a long way from winning the fight.” The generals insist they are moving forward with a plan for democracy, but the world is losing its patience for its “attempts to violently suppress the Saffron Revolution.” Even China—the generals’ chief ally—is facing “international anger” by “generously supporting the Burmese junta.”
“The immediate prospects are grim,” said the San Diego Union-Tribune in an editorial. By killing “dozens, perhaps hundreds, of pro-democracy demonstrators,” and detaining thousands of students and monks, the junta has “crushed a peaceful, people-power uprising.” The junta is “gambing that the world doesn't care enough to do anything effective about it.” But China can be influenced by outside pressure, so “there is good reason” to hope that newly tightened U.S. sanctions and a “sustained diplomatic offensive” can make a difference.
Don’t count on journalists to keep a spotlight on the junta’s atrocities, said Harry Shearer in The Huffington Post. “American media, to the extent they ever cared about the Burma story, have moved on.”