RIGHTS WATCH : Burma's Road

The military rulers in Burma, now known as Myanmar, have announced they are extending the world's most famous house arrest for yet another year. The arrestee is Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the nation's pro-democracy movement and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner. For three years she has been under house arrest in her Yangon (Rangoon) home. Now she will be a prisoner for a fourth year.

The United States, the European Community and Australia all have deplored the arrest, calling for her immediate release. It is, as President Clinton said, "a tragedy for Burma and a cause for outrage in the international community." Indeed, the United Nations should no longer recognize the military regime as holder of Myanmar's U.N. seat. In addition, Asian nations should sever economic ties with Myanmar.

Alas, the military regime is sustained by its Asian neighbors with arms and trade. Their approach of "collective engagement" with Myanmar is a failure, feeding the repressive government at a time when the regime should be starved and isolated to force it to free Suu Kyi.

That's why Myanmar's military continues its blatant disregard of the will of the Burmese people, who voted the military out three years ago. Suu Kyi was put under house arrest on July 20, 1989. But her opposition party, the National League for Democracy, nevertheless scored a stunning landslide victory in 1990 elections. But the military nullified that election and proposes to hold a new one--presumably one that will yield results more to its liking.

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