Today in the Dail, Deputies Alan Shatter (FG) and Michael D Higgins (Lab) condemned the lack of Irish government and EU activity on the Burmese crisis. Their condemnation is justified.
UK Socialist MEP Glenys Kinnock has said that the EU commitment to human rights will be questioned if foreign ministers 'backtrack' on Burma next week.
Kinnock urged EU governments to support Burma's pro democracy movement and called for stronger sanctions on imports of gems timber and metals. She also said that an investment ban should not be ruled out.
Unfortunately the international response is too little too late. The UN Security Council-constrained by Russian and Chinese objections - has been pussyfooting around the issue. The brutality of the junta has gone unpunished. The reign of terror continues. Is there any politician of stature on the world stage who would propose a military force and ensure that such a force came into being? A ban on investment in Burma by EU and US companies is a sine qua non if the junta is to be removed from power. Of course Chinese and Russian companies might try to fill the vacuum.
In summary severe sanctions, a ban on investment by EU and US companies, and a threat of military intervention by the international community might serve to concentrate the minds of junta leaders. Unfortunately sanctions may be a double edged sword and might impact too severely on some of the poorer elements in Burmese society. This is a risk which must be taken.