There was optimism and hope in the air four years ago, when Burma's democratic government prised control of the country from the military after 49 years of brutal rule. The Burmese, and indeed the world, looked to the new government to relax the iron grip of the army and initiate a wave of liberal change. But the new leaders are still cracking down on ethnic minorities and students as if it was a force of habit.
Many people in Myanmar commemorated the 25th anniversary this September of one of the bloodiest crackdowns in the country's history. Western business should be encouraged to bring more socially responsible practices to Myanmar but should take critical measures to ensure that they not become part of the democracy-hindering problem rather than the solution.
To say that the Burmese generals who have been meeting with diplomatic A-list visitors such as Clinton and Hague have blood on their hands is almost an understatement. Aside from the 1988 crackdown, which killed thousands of young activists, many shot at point-blank range, their record of repression includes the crackdown on monks and other peaceful protesters.