India’s Burma Dilemma

India is doing in Burma what the US and European countries have long been willing to do: trump rhetoric about democracy and human rights with policies that serve their strategic interests. If the EU and the US want India to act according to its stated moral values when these appear to conflict with its vital national interests, they had better be prepared to do the same.

The world has been horrified by graphic images of the latest crackdown by Myanmar’s military junta. But the bullets and clubs unleashed on Buddhist monks have worked. The monks have retreated, and an eerie normalcy has returned to Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar’s principal city and former capital.

That crackdown continues under cover of darkness. When the sun sets in Myanmar, fear rises. Everyone listens half awake for the dreaded knock on the door. Any night, the military’s agents can come for you, take you away, and make sure you are never heard from again.

In recent nights, the junta’s henchmen have burst into monasteries, lined up sleepy monks, and smashed their shaved heads against the walls, spattering them with blood. Scores of others, perhaps hundreds, have been carted off for interrogation, torture, or execution. The nighttime assault on a United Nations employee and her family made international news, but hundreds of less well connected Burmese have been similarly abused.