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Led by red robed monks, hundreds of thousands took to the streets in Myanmar (formerly Burma) last month to protest the repression of the ruling junta and demand democracy. The regime countered with a brutal crackdown which left a disputed number of people dead. In the grim aftermath, Myanmar's foreign minister confidently told the United Nations General Assembly that "normalcy" had been restored.
Reaction from the outside world has been mixed. The United States and the European Union announced they would intensify sanctions against the military government while Japan has cut off all aid.
However, Myanmar's neighbors and fellow members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have been more cautious in their response. ASEAN has condemned the junta's violence and called for the release of political prisoners, but it has not called for sanctions. China and India, which do the most business with Myanmar, have been particularly reluctant to bring real pressure on the regime.
In the meantime, a U.N. special envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, has been dispatched to southeast Asia, including China and India, to build up a united diplomatic front against Myanmar.
This month CIAO examines Myanmar's pro-democracy movement.
Background Note: Burma (U.S. Department of State)
The Myanmar Times
Democratic Voice of Burma
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