A stellar roster of achievers was gathered at the White House yesterday to receive the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom. Physicist Stephen Hawking. Bishop Desmond Tutu. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Civil rights leader Joseph E. Lowery. Miami's own humanitarian medical man, Dr. Pedro José Greer Jr. Sen. Ted Kennedy. Grameen microbank founder Muhammad Yunus.
President Obama lauded each medal recipient's accomplishments and called them all agents of change. They each truly deserve the recognition.
What a contrast this was to another country's treatment of one of its native daughters. In Burma, the ruling military junta slammed Aung San Suu Kyi with another 18 months of house arrest, using as a pretext the bizarre visit to her home last year by an extremely misguided American man.
This brought condemnation from Burma's democratic neighbors, the European Union, the United States and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. But that alone won't change the junta's mind. This is one instance where U.N. sanctions have been insufficient, thanks in part to China blocking more forceful action.
More economic sanctions must be applied to the military thugs whose repression has impoverished Burma's people.
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