Time to get tough on Myanmar

Aung San Suu Kyi © Getty Images
Suu Kyi: lacking authority

During her 15 years under house arrest by the then ruling military junta, the “courage, endurance and dignity” of Aung San Suu Kyi “won her global respect”, says The Times. But in her role as the president of Myanmar, she has now come under “withering criticism” from a UN report for her refusal to stop, or even condemn, “atrocities that have been the bloodiest in Asia since the mass killings by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia”. The report claims that “at least 10,000 Rohingya civilians have been murdered, and 725,000 driven out of their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine state across the border into Bangladesh”.

It may be unfair to criticise Suu Kyi for the atrocities, says Bertil Lintner on Asia Times. Her government is “legally and administratively hemmed in by the autonomous military, which maintains full control of the powerful defence, home and border-affairs ministries”. Consequently, she “lacks any command control over the troops who were allegedly involved in acts the UN now says constitute genocide”.

Still, if nothing has really changed in Myanmar since it began to emerge from military rule in 2011, it’s time for the rest of the world to take a stronger line, says the Financial Times. Early on, “there was a case for treading softly”, thus allowing Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy “to build on the political transition that was under way”. Yet any democratic gains that were made “are now being reversed” – as shown by the jailing this week of two Reuters reporters who revealed details of one massacre – so that case “no longer holds”. “It is high time for international pressure to be put back on.”