The European Union has wielded the only weapon in its armoury that could calm the situation in Myanmar: strengthened sanctions.
Existing arms and trade embargoes were expanded in April. Some 375 Burmese with links to the junta are banned from EU soil.
But EU sanctions on Myanmar have proved toothless without pressure from the regime’s regional neighbours, India and China.
British MEP Edward McMillan-Scott said:
“Well, we are having a debate in the European parliament; all around Europe leaders are saying to the authorities in Rangoon: “Stop the repression”, but the one which really matters is not here in Europe, it is in Beijing.”
Sanctions would need time to take effect and must avoid hitting the entire Burmese population. For Italian liberal member Marco Cappato, embargoes alone are not enough. He said:
“A policy made up purely of sanctions is sometimes counter-productive, sometimes even useless.
“For the policy to work it must contain some positive proposals, such as providing better information and promoting the non-violent struggle of the monks.”
Europe has long supported calls for an end to the military junta. In 1990 the European Parliament awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Aung San Suu Kyi. But, with the leader of the peaceful rebellion under house arrest in Myanmar, her son collected the award on her behalf.