The world’s inability to take action against the Myanmar junta has emboldened the military leaders to unleash a level of savagery upon the unarmed population rarely seen in modern times. The 27th of March, the day when the Generals held the Myanmar Armed Forces Day military parade in the capital Naypyitaw, witnessed mass slaughter of around 114 people, including children. This has brought the death toll in the bloodbath in Myanmar to more than 500, while thousands have been arrested, imprisoned and tortured. A couple of years back the Tatmadaw, the Myanmar name for the military, had shown how brutal it can be by carrying out a genocide of Rohingya Muslims. Yet no one had thought it could come down so harshly against its own people, notwithstanding the precedence set after the coup of 1962, when General Ne Win had overthrown the civilian government and installed an authoritarian regime, and thousands had allegedly been slain. The international community on that occasion had revealed its crass impotence in bringing the Generals to book, with China being the fly in the ointment as far as imposing effective economic sanctions on the Myanmar regime was concerned. This time around too the world has exposed its impotence. No doubt across the world the expressions of concern have been aired, and unilateral action taken by some nations, but these have hardly deterred the regime from its barbarism.
The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has asserted that a firm and unified response from the international community was required to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar. No doubt the UN Security Council has passed, by consensus, resolutions calling upon the Myanmar junta to desist from violent action against civilians. Also, the 47-member UN Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution condemning the February coup and use of lethal force. Yet, in a gesture that clearly exposes their hypocrisy, a number of signatories to UN resolutions, including India, sent their representative to the March 27 military parade. Myanmar protesters, as social media tweets reveal, have been particularly hurt by the fact that India, the largest democracy in the world, has displayed the running with the hare while hunting with the hound mentality. India, apparently, had not forgotten the days of the past when her backing of Aung San Suu Kyi after the last coup had enabled China to get a stronghold in Myanmar, and on this occasion has chosen pragmatism over principles. Not only have Myanmar’s neighbours of the ASEAN been reluctant to impose sanctions because of loss of lucrative exports to Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam also sent representatives to the parade. Experience with the earlier coup shows that it would take more than mere economic sanctions to pressurize Myanmar’s Generals, but the world seems to be impotent to engage in any effective action.