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A New Capital For Burma

Burma's military government is moving the capital of the country from the port city of Rangoon to Pyinmana, in a mountainous region some three-hundred-ninety kilometers to the north. "The government is crazy," one Rangoon resident told the Washington Post newspaper. "Everybody hates this idea," he said.

Some observers say that the decision to move the capital was made solely by General Than Shwe, head of Burma's ruling military junta. The new location in a remote area is another sign of Burma's isolation from the rest of the world.

The Burmese government's policies of human rights violations, and the detention of human rights activists like Nobel peace prize winner Aung Sun Suu Kyi, have had a negative impact on the population. The independent monitoring group Human Rights Watch estimates that since the 1960s, Burma's military junta has created more than one million internally displaced people. There are one-hundred-forty-thousand Burmese refugees in Thailand, twenty-thousand in Bangladesh, and twelve-thousand-five-hundred in Malaysia.

According to the U.S. State Department's latest Supporting Human Rights and Democracy report, Burmese citizens "do not have the right to change their government. Security forces continue to commit extrajudicial killings, rape, and forcible relocation of persons, use forced labor, and conscript child soldiers."

The United Nations Security Council has been briefed on the situation in Burma. Several members, including the U.S., say that Burma's deterioration, and the detention of political opponents, threatens regional stability. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said that when "tyrannical" governments like Burma abuse their citizens, it is the responsibility of free countries to speak out:

"I understand that a lot of countries that are neighbors of Burma feel the need to engage them. But, I would hope that engagement also takes the form of being serious about the really quite appalling human rights situation in Burma."

President George W. Bush says, "The people of Burma live in the darkness of tyranny. But the light of freedom shines in their hearts. Mr. Bush says, Burmese "want their liberty – and one day, they will have it."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.