US sharply skeptical of Myanmar constitution

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The White House on Friday expressed frustration at the pace of aid flows into Myanmar after devastating Cyclone Nargis and said the ruling junta’s new constitution lacks legitimacy.

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Burma needs humanitarian intervention: NCGUB

May 21, 2008 (DVB)–Humanitarian intervention is needed if the Burmese regime continues to obstruct the delivery of international aid to cyclone victims, the prime minister of the Burmese government-in-exile told DVB. 

National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma prime minister Dr Sein Win criticised the Burmese junta’s response to the disaster and failure to provide timely assistance to victims. Continue reading

Cyclone Survivors Forcibly Evicted

By SAW YAN NAING Saturday, May 24, 2008

Myanmar cyclone survivors grab a free banana from a local donor ...


Thousands of homeless cyclone survivors from rural areas who sought shelter and aid in Bogalay and Mawlamyinegyun have been forcibly expelled from the towns by local government officials over the last five to six days, said sources in Rangoon and Bogalay.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy by telephone, a resident in Bogalay said, “The authorities won’t allow refugees to stay in town. They are sending them back where they came from. Continue reading

Cyclone Nargis survivors ousted from shelters in Myanmar

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — With few places to seek refuge, the wooden schoolhouse seemed as good as anywhere.Though its roof was partially blown off by Cyclone Nargis, and panels were ripped from its walls, hundreds of people swarmed here after the storm.Now the government has forced them out to make space for a weekend vote on a new pro-military constitution — a referendum delayed in parts of Myanmar because of the deadly cyclone.

“The school will be used as a polling station,” said Sandar, a teacher who refused to give her last name. “We needed people to leave.”

“Most of them set up temporary bamboo huts,” Sandar said Wednesday. Like most people in Myanmar, she did not want to be fully identified because the government dislikes people talking to the press. Continue reading

Ban Ki-moon to meet Burma leader

British Broadcasting Corporation

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Mr Ban visited the

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is to meet with Burma’s military leader, Gen Than Shwe, after touring cyclone-hit areas of the country.

On a tour of the Irrawaddy Delta, Mr Ban flew over flooded rice fields and destroyed villages and visited a relief camp set up by the government.

Mr Ban said his mission was to urge the Burma’s rulers to accept more aid. Continue reading

The senseless junta

The senseless junta

Manjit Bhatia’s opinion in Malaysiakini | May 20, 08 12:59pm

Even after a week, when Cyclone Nargis hit the Irrawady delta regime and close to 100,000 people had perished or were missing, and tens of hundreds more utterly displaced, Burma’s military junta continued to sit on its hands. Why?

After initially asking for help from the international community, who had rallied so speedily, the regime’s generals changed their minds and disallowed international aid into the country. Why?

This is the height of stupidity.

But the stupidity of the regime does not end there. In its breathless, most mind-numbing display of outright idiocy, after stating that it would postpone by two weeks the planned Constitutional reform plebiscite, Yangon (Rangoon) changed its minds and brought it forward by a week. Why?

  • Never mind that the world’s media has been denied visas to cover the devastation. After all, like China and Zimbabwe, it is a hideous regime with lots of hideous deeds to hide – deeds like corruption and murder.
  • Worse is that all foreign aid workers – people who are experts at aid and development logistics – too have been denied entry.
  • Burmese red tape is debilitating to foreign donours and non-government organizations. It is also debilitating to Burma’s people.
  • They’re desperately holding out for help not from their regime but foreign donors.

Early estimates put at least 20 percent of children in the most devastated areas are suffering from diarrhoea. The situation could worsen if water-borne diseases, such as cholera, break out. But the military men have the gall to offer this most ridiculous rationalisation: “Myanmar has prioritised receiving emergency relief provisions and making strenuous effort delivering it with its own labour to the affected areas,” a junta’s statement said. “(But) Myanmar is not ready to receive rescue and media teams from foreign countries.” How can this be? It’s bollocks. It makes utterly no sense at all.

Logistical nightmare

burma myanmar cyclone typhoon catastrophe 070508 01With the carnage likely to claim over 100,000 lives, and the cyclone’s path of destruction is writ large, restoring normalcy will take a Herculean effort. And the reconcontruction of the region will take years and several billion dollars. Burma has key natural resources whose financial windfalls haven’t accrued to the Burmese people but the Burma’s top brass, its local and foreign business cronies, and its sympathisisers. The logistical nightmare of the scale of the aid distribution perhaps leaves the regime out of its depth for effective and just distribution. Foreign aid that arrived in cargo 747s and other planes has been seized in Rangoon. There’s every reason to belief that this kleptomaniac regime has siphoned off the seized cargo and distributed it to its troops instead.

For one thing, this illegitimate and vile regime cannot exist in power without the full backing of the military’s rank-and-file, especially the military Young Turks. The regime’s top brass has virtually bought the loyalty of the Young Turks, not unlike former Philippines president Corazon Aquino and incumbent Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. How else do incompetent and corrupt regimes retain power if not by dictatorial means? Look at Zimbabwe’s abominable dictator Robert Mugabe.

For another, the junta has been peddling an absurdly populist ideology to legitimise its rule by barring specialist foreign aid workers, especially from the United States. It argues that these ‘foreigners’ have hidden agendas for entering Burma: to invade and take over the country. Trouble is, there are enough Burmese who believe the regime’s claptrap. After all, Washington had pushed the United Nations Security Council to impose international sanctions against the junta that routinely abuses human rights. And it won’t be long before the regime points to the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Effectively, what the junta is saying is that it’ll be the main driving force of relief operations in Burma. If that’s the case, why, after just a week, it had not mobilised its disaster relief effort? Easy. It is fundamentally incapable of doing so. Burma may be resource rich but look at the way the junta has singularly failed to redistribute wealth to its people. Conversely, George W Bush too dithered after Hurricane Katrina banged up New Orleans? Three years later, New Orleans was still a total disaster zone. Bush was too busy eating birthday cake with Republican presidential nominee John McCain and playing his new guitar at his Texas ranch.

Problem is, the junta has neither sufficient trucks nor helicopters to organise aid delivery on a large scale. And it is a massive operation. Many of these places are inaccessible by road. The US Essex Strike Group is in the neighborhood for a military exercise with Thailand. It says it can fly at least 10 military choppers, loaded up with supplies, to Burma within hours. With airplanes already stranded in Rangoon, and the junta already allowing one US C-130 with supplies to land in Rangoon, it will not give the Essex Strike Group idea the time of day.

Selling in the black market

burma myanmar monk protest 260907 pissed offThere was no vacillating when the junta rushed through voting for a Constitutional referendum on May 10. Politics was put head of Burmese lives and misery. In the absence of popular legitimacy, cementing its militarist-dictatorial grip on power was vital to quash pro-democracy dissent in the aftermath of last October’s Saffron protests. The regime murdered in cold blood dissenters in a manner not dissimilar to Chinese communist regime’s murder of pro-democracy protestors in Tiananmen Square in 1989. There’s more: natural resources developments are about to come on stream, bringing vital foreign exchange revenue that will only fill up the junta’s coffers.

Another thing: don’t hold your breath that the so-called international community will come racing to the rescue of the Burmese with aid money in the way it did in the aftermath of the Asian tsunami. Rescuing Burma could be doomed even before it starts. And it looks that way already, thanks to the junta’s criminal madness and irresponsibility. That’s not the end of it, though. With the global financial crisis delivering massive shocks and untold billions of dollars people’s wealth wiped away, world aid could rapidly slow to a trickle. As the world economy hurtles south, ordinary Burmese will have to turn to the heavens for a miracle to bury their dead, look after the injured and rebuild their lives. Because the corrupt junta doesn’t give a damn.

There’s growing evidence that the Burma’s generals are keeping the aid that they’ve confiscated and keeping it for themselves and the military, and there is growing evidence that sections of the military have been selling the aid on the black market. Such is the hide of this kleptomanic state whose generals are not only brutalisers of human rights of Burmese men, women and children but also cold-blooded murderers of Burmese men, women an children. And now they’re thugs too – thieves of the worst kind.





more photos:here


 Myanmar survivors living with dead

By Los Angeles Times

WAT MYON, Myanmar — They are living with the dead.

More than two weeks after Cyclone Nargis wiped away all but one of this village’s houses, decomposing corpses still lie on muddy pathways or are trapped in eddies along the shore of the broad Pyamaia River nearby.

The stench overpowers every corner of U Thon Tun’s badly damaged home, where 25 survivors have taken refuge.

The villagers, all tenant farmers, want to go back to work and earn money again before another rice crop is lost. But their paddies are ruined, they have no seeds to plant and there are no tools to work soil flooded by the sea.

Without any tools, the villagers say they can’t solve another pressing problem: the corpses that are poisoning the river, where they wash themselves each day.

Soldiers sent in to gather the corpses suddenly disappeared Sunday and villagers say they heard the troops were refusing to dispose of any more bodies, leaving survivors no choice but to live with them.

“It’s not 10, it’s not 100, it’s thousands of bodies,” Thon Tun said. “We gave up collecting corpses around here. It’s impossible to bury them properly.”

Local authorities have provided small rations of food but not the seeds, equipment and water buffalo that villagers say they need to start planting by the end of June.

Meanwhile, saltwater is poisoning the soil and freshwater reserves. Yet villagers have no salt, which is essential to a healthy diet, for their meager meals. The Irrawaddy River delta produces most of the country’s salt, but the factories were destroyed in the storm.

Local officials have provided small rations of rice, chicken-flavored instant noodles and cookies that don’t provide the nutrition that the United Nations and other agencies say as many as 2.5 million survivors need for a long struggle ahead.

The military regime that rules Myanmar, also known as Burma, says at least 78,000 people have died and 56,000 are missing since the storm’s 120- to 150-mph winds ravaged the country’s south May 2.

Save the Children, one of the most experienced foreign-aid agencies in Myanmar, estimates that 30,000 children in the delta region were malnourished before the cyclone hit and could be starving in two to three weeks if adequate help doesn’t arrive.

Ignoring intense pressure and suspicious foreigners would serve as spies, the regime has refused to open the disaster zone to a massive international-relief effort.

The U.N. World Food Program said it had managed to deliver food aid to just 212,000 of the 750,000 people it thinks are most in need.

The United States and France have naval vessels just outside Myanmar’s territorial waters and are prepared to deliver supplies directly to affected areas along the coast, but they have not received clearance from the government.

On Monday, the government agreed to let its Southeast Asian neighbors help coordinate foreign aid, Singapore’s foreign minister, George Yeo, said. It also approved a visit by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and prepared to host a meeting of aid donors, while claiming that losses from the May 2-3 disaster exceeded $10 billion.

As Tuesday dawned, a three-day official period of mourning began for the dead.

Yeo said Myanmar agreed to allow in medical teams from any of its nine Asian neighbors. Thailand already has sent more than 30 medical workers.

In addition, Myanmar has allowed in 50 medical workers from India. China reported a team of 50 Chinese medics arrived in Yangon on Sunday night.