The news coming out of Burma is gripping. BBC Online is reporting that thousands of monks and their supporters are marching despite baton charges from the authorities. There are suggestions that Aung San Suu Kyi has been taken to prison and that internet cafes are being shut down.
John Bercow MP, just back from a trip to the India-Burma border with ConservativeHome regular and human rights campaigner Ben Rogers, has written for this morning’s Independent about the nature of the Rangoon regime:
"Burma’s junta is guilty of every conceivable human rights violation. It has the highest number of forcibly conscripted child soldiers in the world. It spends more than 40 per cent of its budget on the military, and less than 60p per person per year on health and education combined. Since 1996, the regime has destroyed more than 3,000 villages in eastern Burma alone. More than a million people have been forced to flee their villages, and are on the run in the jungle without adequate food, medicine or shelter."
In his article Mr Bercow echoed earlier calls from Shadow Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell for strong action from the international community. Mr Mitchell called for carefully-targeted sanctions against key members of the regime. He continued:
"We also look to the international community to honour its ‘Responsibility to Protect’. We have a duty to protect those who suffer at the hands of oppressive regimes such as the Burmese junta. We must stand united with the brave people who have taken to the streets in Burma in the last few days, people who are prepared to risk their lives to achieve democratic rule – the rights we take for granted."
Also worth reading is Baroness Cox’s op-ed in The Telegraph: Now is the time to topple Burma’s tyrants