As the situation in Burma, also known as Myanmar following the military junta that installed the current government there, has intensified over the past few days; it has erupted as front page news here in the United States. In reality current events are the product of a frightened government that has systematically used repression for years to instill fear in the Burmese populace.

Over the past year and indeed over the summer and in particular over the preceding months these peaceful demonstrations, lead by monks no less, have grown quietly larger and larger. Now as these demonstrations have focused more clearly the attention of the world on Burma, the military government has begun to crackdown on opposition leaders not only through suppression and violence against protestors in the streets, but through raids and arrests.

The US and the EU has responded with a condemnation of violence and a plea for peaceful dialogue. Still a full-court-press of diplomacy needs to be put into action to help urge leaders and neighbor countries especially China to weigh in on these actions. Both China and Russia also need to be encouraged to take diplomatic action including using their seat on the UN Security Council for positive change.

There may be progress on these points, US Envoy Christopher Hill is working to encourage China to act. I would venture a guess that Russia may be next on his list. Given the fact that China and Russia have both dug in their heels on the Burma issue for quite some time now, this particular diplomatic mission is by no means a slam dunk. Still, every effort at persuasion should be used at this critical time.