Saturday, May 31, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Must read article -- Burma: Cyclone, aid and sanctions -- by Dr. Wylie Bradford of Burma Economic Watch in OpenDemocracy
Thank you for writing your article on Burma: Cyclone, aid and sanctions --
I have been detecting an insidious undercurrent of "damage control" on the part of the anti-sanctions people, but you have really put your finger on it.
I am sending this link around to everyone I know and posting it on my blog --
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Save the Children releases report on humanitarian aid workers abuse of children they are supposed to be helping.
10 years ago I heard the story of a dissident who was "rescued" by a gay man, only to be forced into an abusive relationship in NY.
Unrelated to this, I wrote a play Shaman, which was a Pew Finalist Script the year it was written, has had a reading in Washington DC and a staged reading. This play has been read or seen by several theatre professionals and praised by Edward Albee.
I am now working on publishing Shaman and a stage production.
In Shaman a western (American) businessman saves a Burmese shaman (nat kadaw or spirit spouse") from the depredations of the junta, only to use her in a big American city.
In 2004 the retired diplomat and Shakespearean actor who played Carl Carpetbagger, the bad guy in my play, tried to find some good points in the character.
This Save the Children report shows that humanitarian aid workers themselves also need to be watched, and the children and other victims aided and protected.
Re-reading my play now after so many years, I see that C.C. is by no means an anomaly.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Burma Sitmone (War Hater) Weblog -- has photos and first person accounts from a local aid giver -- you MUST read this!
also link to Nyi Lyn Sek's blog from inside Burma --
Vaclav Havel, Desmond Tutu, Willem de Klerk and others call the Burmese junta's obstruction of aid a crime against humanity, call for action --
Retired NMSP member killed in torture, many flee
May 26, 2008
A retired New Mon State Party (NMSP) medical worker was beaten to death by local Burmese Army soldiers. He was being tortured and was being forced to admit to exploding bombs in a nearby polling station in Khawzar sub-township Mon State . Retired NMSP members fear a similar fate.
The 35 year old medic, Nai Show died on May 20 following severe injuries sustained at Khawzar town police station, where he was sent by Infantry Battalion (IB) No.31 army officers. He was accused of causing explosions in Yindein polling station on May 10 and of distributing fliers advocating people to "vote against the draft constitution" .
He was arrested with two other villagers and the army seized some fliers and a video CD of the "monk led demonstration in September 2007 (Damma Kun Are)" from his home.
According to family members he admitted, while being tortured to distributing the fliers but denied exploding the bombs.
According to family sources, the man was subjected to electric shocks, severe beating and food deprivation. He was kept at the battalion base during interrogations by army officers with two other villagers, former village headman Nai Owen Ngwe and Nai Jaw Tun.
On May 10, two bombs went off near a polling station at Yindein village prompting junta accusations against Mon activists and retired NMSP members living in the area. To evade imprisonment retired NMSP members, including a NMSP Tavoy district CEC member and some NMSP members from Yinye, Yedein and Maha village have fled.
In a scandalous exposure, however, Khawzar town police revealed the explosions were planned by local army officers in Yinye, Yedein and Maha villages. But due to a lack of support from village headmen and police the plans were cancelled in Yinye and Maha village.
According to the police, the plan was to frame Mon activists and NMSP members in the area by exploding bombs. Before the May 10 referendum, local Burmese battalion IB No.31 spread a rumour that activists planned to bomb polling stations.
Mon activists in the area had distributed fliers to encourage locals to vote against the constitution like other townships in Mon state. Regular fighting broke out in the area between Mon splinter group led by Nai Chan Done and Burma Army troops. Some NMSP members and retired members were accused of supporting the Mon splinter group which separated from NMSP in 2001 and were arrested. Some retired NMSP members in the area were executed in 2004 when the army launched a military offensive against the Mon splinter group in the area.
For further information please contact to imna_news@yahoo. com ,
Contact Editor: 66 (0) 81 3659140 (or) 66 (0) 892 072 825,
Please visit Burma News International Web-site: www.bnionline. net, in which IMNA is a member.
The expression on ASEAN Chairman Dr. Surin Pitsuwan's face says it all --
By Christopher Johnson of CSM --
Answer: Probably not very hard.
Be sure to listen to the audio version, which is more succint.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Kyi May Kaung's short story -- No Crib for a Bed -- to be anthologized in Gravity Dancers, ed. Richard Peabody --
My short story "No Crib for a Bed" a dark "Christmas story" will appear by invitation in Gravity Dancers: Even More Fiction by Washington Area Women, edited by Richard Peabody, Paycock Press.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Ms. Maureen Aung Thwin of Burma Soros Project and Kyi May Kaung interviewed by Richard Garfunkel of The Advocate radio.
Everyone is working with no psychiatric support whatsoever.
The only psychiatrist I heard of was one who went in with Thai team, and he was only there 2 weeks.
ASEAN head Dr. Surin Pitsuwan calls for transparency and accountability by the Burmese junta on the numbers and aid estimates --
From AP and IHT
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Is anybody there, does anybody care?”
Line from musical play 1776.
The secondary death toll from the Burmese junta’s blocking Cyclone Nargis survivors from receiving abundantly offered and supplied international humanitarian aide goes beyond negligent homicide or laissez-faire/passive extermination.
Cholera outbreaks have been confirmed in areas devastated by Cyclone Nargis. A report is circulating that the Myanmar military made an announcement that all aid has been delivered and therefore, relief efforts are done. The UN says that only 25 % of cyclone victims have received the most rudimentary of aid rations. Reports and photos document the rotten rice being handed out to starving cyclone victims by Myanmar’s military. At the same time, photos document government workers loading sacks of good quality rice for shipment to Bangladesh for the ruling military’s profit.
The military has handed out plain biscuits to starving survivors while the high-energy biscuits donated by the UN’s World Food Program remain in storage.
Foreign aid workers are refused entry to areas where the most destitute and needy survivors are. Burmese laymen and aid workers have been stopped, harassed, arrested, turned back and robbed of their truckloads of relief goods by the military and its allies.
Traumatized and economically devastated cyclone survivors are forced to leave refugee camps. They are ordered to go back where their homes were before cyclone Nargis, without food, clean water, money, or materials for shelter, let alone reconstruction. Some rations and supplies can be bought for 5000 kyats in exchange for a vote for the referendum that legitimizes this murderous regime’s rule.
Emergency shelter, generators and other reconstruction supplies are being used by the military rather than distributed to the cyclone survivors.
I am disturbed by these reports and photos, but not surprised.
I spent 6 months in Northern Rakhine State doing medical fieldwork. There was a surge in the already too prevalent human rights abuses. There was no hiding the resulting physical injury, starvation and death from the regime and their thug allies. Too many young boys’ faces told the story of generations of oppression whether carrying a furrowed brow or void of any emotion, i.e. poverty of spirit.
The surge brutality I saw coincides with the numerous international energy and economic development projects that will further enrich the junta, solidify Myanmar’s neighbors as partners in crime and most of all escalate the degradation, starvation, enslavement and death of populations clinging to the hope of survival amidst inhumanity.
The Irrawaddy Delta is the agricultural heartland of Myanmar. Is the active blockade of life saving aid to Cyclone Nargis victims because the Myanmar rulers want these people to die? Do they want to create a population enslaved to the regime for every morsel that passes their lips? Do the Myanmar rulers want to get their hands on this precious land? Is it for profit from the agricultural potential or is something more militaristic in the planning?
I was amazed at the many people in Burma who looked to America as their future heroic rescuer. Pleas from people for information about what the U.S. was doing to help them were difficult for me to face. U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice previously sat on the board of Chevron, which brings in billions of dollars to the Myanmar regime, despite the 2003 U.S. embargo against Myanmar. The role of mega-corporations in the conflicts which are alive and well in the world today is astounding. Is that what is holding up rescuing the 2.5 million Cyclone Nargis survivors, let alone the rest of the 56 million people of Burma?
Whatever the reason, it is EXTERMINATION BY BLOCKADE OF HUMANITARIAN AID.
Nora Rowley is a Burma focused human rights activist and medical doctor.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
“Enlightening Ideas for Public Policy”
Volume 10, Issue 20: May 19, 2008
In this week’s issue:
1) The Other Burmese Disaster
2) U.S. Military Reform Unlikely, Eland Argues
3) Latin America’s Populist Party and Coming Hangover
4) Freedom’s Future: Tempering Optimism with Realism
The Other Burmese Disaster
Although natural disasters often bring out the best in people, Cyclone Nargis has brought out the worst: it has shown the world that Myanmar’s (Burma’s) generals are concerned more with retaining and enhancing their political power than with saving the lives of the unfortunate people they rule.
“The Myanmar catastrophe is the result of a political mind-set—that is, of cold-blooded decisions aimed at protecting the military government from the threat of instability,” writes Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director of the Independent Institute’s Center on Global Prosperity.
Myanmar’s rulers concealed from the public the magnitude of the approaching tempest, lied about the number of victims left in its wake, obstructed the efforts of foreign relief agencies, forbade civilians from distributing the little aid that made it through, and sought to legitimize and further entrench their rule with a bogus referendum. “The Myanmar government’s conduct in the last few weeks,” continues Vargas Llosa, “may soon rank among the worst tragedies in living memory caused by people obsessed with power.”
Purchase Liberty for Latin America: How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression, by Alvaro Vargas Llosa.
“You may not agree with everything Alvaro Vargas Llosa says in his Liberty for Latin America, but you should take very seriously his central argument: that lack of political and economic freedom is at the root of our region’s underdevelopment. With this volume, Alvaro makes an important contribution to the present debate on the causes of Latin America’s poor economic and social performance.”
—Ernesto Zedillo, former President of Mexico; Director, Center for the Study of Globalization, Yale University
"This Wednesday we will have on Ms. Kyi May Kaung, a
ex-patriot(sic)expatriate, writer and activist, who will talk about the recent cyclone
that is threatening 1,000,000 people in and the military junta that
controls 55,000,000 people with an iron fist!
Catch our program live-streaming on your computer www.wvox.com at 12
You can find all of our archived shows at www.advocates-wvox.com.
US official says Myanmar's leaders will be responsible for deaths if aid not allowed
The Associated Press
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
A senior U.S. diplomat said Tuesday that Myanmar's military-led government will be responsible for a second catastrophe if thousands of desperate cyclone survivors die because the junta continues to bar foreign aid and disaster workers.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Scot Marciel told lawmakers that the generals running Myanmar, also known as Burma, cannot manage the distribution of aid needed to help people facing disease, malnutrition and exposure to the elements.
"The situation is increasingly desperate," Marciel said. He called the government's response to Cyclone Nargis appalling and blamed its failure to give foreign aid workers greater access to victims for putting hundreds of thousands of lives at risk.
"Let me be clear: if assistance is not allowed in, and thousands of Burmese perish, the responsibility for this catastrophe will fall squarely on the shoulders of Senior Gen. Than Shwe," the head of the country's ruling junta, and other leaders, Marciel said in testimony before the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia. "Every day that goes by and more people suffer, increasingly the blame falls on the government."
Marciel said Myanmar's decision to hold a referendum on its draft constitution after the May 2-3 storm hit clearly shows its indifference to its own people's welfare. He criticized the government's "inexplicable failure to allow aid, to make relief a priority."
His comments came as the U.N.'s top humanitarian official made fresh pleas to Myanmar to allow in more foreign aid for survivors. The country has begun three days of mourning for the 134,000 dead and missing from the storm.
U.S. officials have complained that skilled aid workers are being forced to sit on the sidelines, waiting for permission from the government to enter, as victims of the cyclone die.
Lawmakers also lashed out against Myanmar's military, which has held power since 1962; the current junta came to power in 1988.
Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley called the generals' response to the storm a "crime against humanity." "They know deep down inside that what they're doing is wrong, that they're morally corrupt," he said.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican, said he hoped the disaster would spur change in the country's leadership. "This is criminal behavior," he said.
Marciel, who is also U.S. ambassador to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said the U.S. has made available more than $17.5 million (€11.2 million) in aid; more than $16 million (€10.2 million) have gone to U.N. programs and "trusted non-governmental organizations. "
Myanmar's generals received international criticism for sending troops to quash peaceful protests in September. The country's junta held elections in 1990 but refused to hand over power when the opposition party won in a landslide.
http://www.iht. com/articles/ ap/2008/05/ 20/america/ NA-GEN-US- Myanmar.php
at 7.15 PM -- free and open to the public.
of Fairfax (UUCF), which is located at . (UUCF has 3 - 4 buildings, all located at the back of a huge gravel parking lot.)
Not much aid reaching Burmese storm victims -- while shops in Rangoon openly sell US and other aid items --
We are orphans. I don't know where my parents are. They might have passed away.
Sometimes, we receive some clothes like that. (in too big sizes)
Some of us are living in monasteries.
Some of us are living in schools.
Now, we are lining up for food.
Now, they are distributing rice. But, please look at it. (It's brown and in lumps that look like elephants!)
Are they for pigs? We don't think people donated rice like that.
They are wet, stinky and old. Anyway, we have to cook them to eat.
Editor's note -- sorry, the pictures could not be uploaded --
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Burma -- first foreign aid worker on scene describes an unrecognizable landscape -- junta does not have heavy machinery to unload 747s
survivors held onto trees and were sand blasted by sea water and sand and lost topmost layer of skin --
Includes psychiatrists --and $100,000 worth of supplies -- several other aid planes and experts sent away from Rangoon airport by junta, including a plane from Qatar.
If you have data/guidelines on food and sanitation precautions after a flood, please leave a comment on this site.
Use all means to get aid to Burma, says EU chief (Guardian, UK)
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Burmese junta forcing storm victims to leave monasteries, separating families and blocking private donors --
Burmese resident tells Oslo-based radio about relief problems
13 May 2008
(c) 2008 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved. No material may be reproduced except with the express permission of The British Broadcasting Corporation.
Text of report by Norway-based Burmese Democratic Voice of Burma website, on 12 May
Cyclone Nargis, which struck Burma on 2 and 3 May, left 100,000 people dead and missing in Irrawaddy Division. Bogale which is located in that region also suffered many casualties.
We understand that there have been reports of cholera in Bogale and that the town is in urgent need of clean water and medicines.
Waterways around Bogale are also reported to be clogged with corpses and scarcity of relief aid and gasoline has also prevented relief teams from visiting villages distant from Bogale. Clean water and water purification devices donated by the international community have reached Bogale but they cannot be distributed because the order from higher authorities has not been received yet. Local authorities are also said to be keeping a close watch on private donors.
Democratic Voice of Burma Correspondent Ko Aye Naing interviews a person who is undertaking relief work in Bogale about the situation there.
[Begin recording] [DVB] Can you please tell me about the situation in Bogale?
[Unidentified male] There are many people taking refuge here. The monasteries are sheltering them. I have visited about four monasteries and saw over 3,000 of them. I understand they are being moved to Ma-ubin, where they have opened five shelters. Some people - I understand about 900 of them - were taken to Ma-ubin but the cyclone victims did not want to go there. So, they used force to take them away and some families got separated. For instance, husbands were moved and wives were left behind or children taken away without the husbands, and so forth.
[DVB] Who is moving them out?
[Unidentified male] They were taken away in military trucks. People were forced into the trucks and ordered not to remain at the monasteries. Many cyclone victims who did not go with the trucks were evicted from the monasteries and some of them are now living along the coast.
[DVB] Did you say that you saw about 3.000 people in trouble in Bogale?
[Unidentified male] Yes. Some people had open sores and there is no medicine. They do not have food, not even rice gruel. Three or four of them have to share a bowl of rice gruel.
[DVB] Aren't the authorities helping them?
[Unidentified male] No. But a few people bought rice at 800 kyats per pyi [about 4.5 pounds] and distributing about a pyi of rice to each cyclone victim. There were about 80 distressed people at a monastery and they went without food yesterday morning. In the evening a private donor gave a sack of rice to the monastery. The people there had to cope with what they have.
[DVB] Isn't the town feeding them?
[Unidentified male] Yes, there are private donors. But they also have difficulties as well. By difficulties, I mean, they encounter problems with (?officials). The authorities keep a close watch on donors at times and sometimes behave in an unpleasant way.
[DVB] Can you explain briefly about the situation in Bogale?
[Unidentified male] Some monasteries are given free access because they get along with the officials. Some monasteries, however, are difficult to get access. It is not easy even to get in touch with some monasteries because local officials have imposed restrictions.
[DVB] You mentioned about not being able to get medicines. What sort of health problems are there?
[Unidentified male] Rabies and open sores are the common problems. From my experience, I have seen those problems in about a hundred people. There is about to be more.
[DVB] Aren't the doctors and medics giving out medicines?
[Unidentified male] There is no medicine at all. Let me give you an example. We sent a corpse to the hospital and the next day we found the same corpse in the river. We sent a dead person to the mortuary and the next morning we found it in the river. Two pregnant women were sent to the hospital and they died. No treatment was given to them. In fact, there have been incidents about patients being turned away from the hospital.
[DVB] How about the people in the town?
[Unidentified male] The main problem is water. By that I mean, the water is really unclean. Of course, there are about two reservoirs in Bogale. But some reservoirs are filled with dirt and leaves and totally unfit for consumption but people are still using the water from them. From our estimate, there are about 120 villages. ((Words indistinct)) the exact number of people that we can ascertain is 97, but, they estimate about 300 people.
[DVB] Are people returning to their villages in Bogale Township?
[Unidentified male] About 50 to 80 people remain in some villages which used to have about 300 to 400 villagers. They continue to live there, coping with the water, food, and medicine shortage by themselves. No one has distributed anything to them.
[DVB] How are they surviving?
[Unidentified male] They share whatever is available and, of course, the children come first. As far as I know, they cannot go on living like this for too long.
[DVB] But the relief teams are there already, isn't it?
[Unidentified male] Well... as far as I know a truck from private sources arrived, but, it was not allowed to come into the town. The local people went to ask the truck in but the authorities insisted on taking one third of whatever was in the truck. When we send relief goods in, some exchanges of payments are made also.
[DVB] Who are the people asking for a one-third share?
[Unidentified male] I don't know, but there are soldiers around. Many shops in Bogale will not allow unfamiliar faces to enter the premises. If they allow you in, they unlock the door slightly so that only a person can go in and then they sell their stuff. What I have heard is that relief aid has arrived but I have not seen it being distributed.
[DVB] Why is that?
[Unidentified male] They said they were waiting for an approval from the higher authorities. That was what a military officer told me when I was helping (?carry the relief goods). I was told that some relief people are there too and some supplies are in the mosque on ((words indistinct)) road. They say there are devices (?to purify water) but I have not seen them being used until now.
[DVB] Aren't the overseas Burmese or the local people - the wealthy people and the big entrepreneurs - giving you rice?
[Unidentified male] Yes, they have. But, the amount given to us can be compared to feeding an elephant a fistful of sesame. The food, clothing, and shelter situation is very bad. We need water and food. People do not even have clothes to wear. There are open sores with pus on their bodies. Since we are private individuals, we have to make do with whatever is available. We use traditional as well as modern medicines but we do not have enough of them. The amount of food we have is very limited and we cannot meet the demand. The future is very bleak. [End recording]
That was Ko Aye Naing interviewing a resident of Bogale who has been helping cyclone victims about the situation in the region.
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma website, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 12 May 08
Monday, May 12, 2008
German Chancelor Angela Merkel seeks UN Security Council action to send aid to Burma unilaterally --
"You invited Dr. Khin Saw Win (once Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's personal physician and a well known dissident) and then you cut her off, saying you were out of time. If you were out of time, why do you bother at all?
"For you to know, she is a medical doctor. -- The Saturday round table is like an interrogation, like SPDC (the Burmese junta) interrogating the accused or the defendant. (We have) to endure the junta violating us in one way and the Burmese language media (overseas) in another. Before you learned to be a journalist, you learned to insult people. I don't know why you all are suffering from inflated egos. Please reduce this offensive behavior."
DCI has had relations with Burmese junta since 1997, and as recently as 2003.
Bain and Co. was PR firm for junta circa 1998, see articles in Washington Post archive from that time.
Before that junta was represented by same firm that represented Saddam Hussein.
Leave comments if you know more about this. Comments may be left anonymously. Will be forwarded to media and activist community.
Friday, May 09, 2008
*MAY 10, Saturday
This event will include a rally, speeches by human rights activists, a Torch parade procession and at least our group will have a display and information table.
The event organizers want to keep the event theme human rights and not political. Therefore, we will be using Stop
* THIS HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE A HUGE RALLY. WE NEED TO GATHER PEOPLE FROM ALL SECTORS TO ATTEND.
FREE BURMA- CHICAG/US CAMPAIGN FOR BURMA WILL STRESS
1) CHINA’S FINANCIAL, WEAPONS AND POLITICAL SUPPPORT OF BURMA'S RULING MILITARY REGIME
2) CHINA'S PRONOUNCEMENT THAT ALL WAS BACK TO NORMAL AND CALM IN OCTOBER 2007 AS MONKS AND OTHER PROTESTORS WERE CHASED OFF THE STREETS, OUT OF MONASTERIES, INTO THE JUNGLES, BEING TORTURED, CREMATED WHILE STILL ALIVE AND MURDERED BY BURMA’S REGIME.
3) CHINA'S ENERGY DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS IN BURMA DIRECTLY CAUSE BRUTAL HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
4) GRANT AUNG SAN SUU KYI'S HUMAN RIGHTS AND RELEASE HER FROM HOUSE ARREST, one year extension ends May 24!
The founding premise is that Crimes Against Humanity and the Olympics cannot co-exist in
Summary -- this was a once in 500 years "event" -- why don't governments get it?
Bangladesh has a cyclone warning system --
all vegetation on Burma coast -- mangrove forests depleted by shrimp farms etc.
"Amazing weather forecast" clipping obtained from other Burmese dissidents, that is dated "Naypyidaw April 29. Underlined sentences say "Cyclone Nargis has not grown in strength perceptibly", "It is estimated that in the next 24 hours it will not increase in strength and will move slowly to the Northeast." At end it says "while winds are strong, wind speeds on water surfaces may blow from 40 to 45 mph." I was not able to confirm authenticity of this, but it looks like a clipping from a Burmese newspaper, which are all state owned and run and in any case, most rural people do not read newspapers.
(A shorter version of this article is on Wild River Review at Large, May 2008.)
On Sunday official reports on the deaths caused by Cyclone Nargis in Burma started with the low estimate of “just three women died as they paddled their sampan on the river.” The tropical cyclone hit at 5 AM local time early Saturday morning and continued till 11 AM, with powerful winds of up to 150 mph.
Yeah, yeah, I thought, there they go again. I remembered the initially low estimate when the tsunami hit in December 2004. I saw then, on Boxing Day, an animated map on TV where the wave was shown lapping at the shores of all the countries in South Asia and S.E. Asia. It was just physically impossible that all the other countries such as Sri Lanka and Thailand would be so hard hit, and hardly any deaths in Burma! An airhead woman correspondent on a TV channel I can’t remember did not understand waves at all, let alone a tsunami. She spoke as if a wave were a solid wall moving through the water in one direction.
You bet, the numbers will go up, I thought to myself, in the voice of my redoubtable old grandmother, Snow Maiden, a real straight talking Moulmein woman, practical to a fault, who once asked her distant spinster cousin who had a tic, “How long have you been living here with us, Miss Blossoming Diamond? Eight months? Well, today is the day you leave. Go now.” She also regularly told guests who said, “I’d better go now,” -- “Good! Go, Go!” Of course she meant, “Go home before it gets dark,” or something like that.
With Cyclone Nargis, sure enough, the news has gotten worser and worser, as Alice in Wonderland might say.
Nargis is a beautiful word and means “narcissus” in Urdu. It was also the name of a famous Bollywood actress who was achingly beautiful, with a pale oval face, black arched eyebrows and plump arms. In one of the novels of Salman Rushdie, the woman who cooks, but cooks with rancor, turns out nargissi kofta, or deep fried meat balls encasing hard boiled eggs, otherwise known as Scotch eggs.
Something so beautifully named has caused a lot of death and destruction. We are only now starting to hear excruciating survivor stories. After the all time low estimate of three, it then went up to 350 and then 351, before it jumped to 10,000, then 22,000 and even 63,000 in an official release from the Burmese Foreign Ministry. U.S. Charge d’Affaires Shari Villarosa said yesterday that the death toll is likely to reach 100,000. http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/05/07/myanmar.aidcyclone/index.html
This U.S. estimate is five times higher than the number given by the Burmese junta. Many countries including the United States have pledged millions in emergency aid, but the Burmese junta is still vacillating about granting entry visas to disaster assessment teams and aid workers, who are all set to go in Thailand and in Australia. We see planes being loaded in Brindisi, Italy. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said quite bluntly, “we would give more, except we don’t like the way the Burmese government does things.” Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy has always insisted that any humanitarian aid be monitored so that it gets to the people it was intended for. I can think of a number of notorious cases from my time in Burma till the early eighties, when I left on a scholarship. In one case the doctor in charge of leprosy medication took the medicines and sold them on the black market. The more powerful were more corrupt. The elder sister of Ne Win’s third (and fifth) wife Daw Ni Ni Myint, was said to have taken all the aid supplies from an earlier USAID aid shipment for a cyclone in Arakan State in the late 1960s. For this, for a while, Ne Win had a token separation. When they reconciled after the interim in which Ne Win married a descendant of former Burmese royalty, Yadana Nat Mè, at an official function Ne Win obviously told the government controlled press not to show her photograph. A small petite woman, she was then reduced to one small white hand sticking out from behind Ne Win’s big frame as she greeted some foreign dignitary at on official reception. (He also had a token separation with his second wife Kitty, who was alleged to have taken all the jewelry that Mogok gem merchants gave her for sale overseas.) Still, all that pales compared to the level of corruption in the so-called “open economy” after 1988. Someone connected to a junta insider told me that in those years Mercedes and other luxury cars would arrive from anonymous donors intended for the top generals and that their homes were “now full of junk, but expensive junk.”
So Kouchner and all of us Burmese dissidents have a strong point. Today (May 8th, 2008) there are reports that the junta has let in aid planes from six countries. One foreign diplomat is said to have called that "delivering aid with an eye dropper." So far, I have only seen on TV (from official Myanmar TV) rows of fat generals and their cohorts “supervising” the unloading of boxed supplies from planes, but we have not seen anything actually delivered. There is only one foreign correspondent (from CNN) in Burma right now. Everyone else has been denied an entry visa, including Anderson Cooper. The Irrawaddy reports that inside Burmese say “we only see the army on TV, nowhere else.”
Washington DC based U.S. Campaign for Burma is starting a letter writing campaign so that there is a U.N. Security Council resolution and aid can be sent to Burma whether the Burmese authorities agree or not. Bernard Kouchner also suggested going in without waiting for the junta’s permission. Condoleeza Rice said sending aid is “not a matter of politics.” http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080507/ts_nm/myanmar_cyclone_dc
The Thai government has started flying in emergency water and other supplies, and has promised to send a planeload a day, it is uncertain for how long. Burma experts such as Dr. Sean Turnell of Macquarie University, Sydney’s Burma Economic Watch predict longterm food shortages. From the inundated areas in satellite photos, it would certainly seem so.
Before and after satellite photos: http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/05/08/myanmar/index.html
I don’t think in this case the Burmese authorities are exaggerating, in fact the junta is now literally out of its depth in this human disaster of humungous proportions. I do know from experience that the Burmese military government is “expert” at manipulating data. Since the coup by the late General Ne Win that put them in place in 1962 and the Moscow trained chief economist (later relieved of his duties) the late U Ba Nyein, they have had an obsession with control and figures. Burma’s famous clowns have always joked of htan pin or “toddy palm surveys” in which you climb on a toddy or sugar palm and then count. In this case, satellite images have shown a disturbing high percentage of flooded areas post-Nargis compared to photographs taken before Nargis, which have inundated the land and changed the Irrawaddy Delta area and Burma’s southern coastline drastically. http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/05/07/myanmar.aidcyclone/index.html#cnnSTCText
In the seventies, former graduates of the Institute of Economics in Rangoon were visiting and told me that they “fixed” the population figures to get a nice looking 3 % annual growth rate. I can still feel my jaw dropping. In the fifties, the head of the Central Statistical Department told us how the foreign experts wanted to see if there was enough bamboo forest for raw material for a paper factory, so they flew him over a bamboo forest. After some time the Burmese asked if he had seen enough, the foreign expert said “yes” and the plane flew back to Rangoon. But after the factories were set up, the entire bamboo forest bloomed and then died, as is the nature of bamboo. The factories were stuck without raw material.
In 1988, the Burmese government retracted its being awarded the Shah Reza Pahlevi prize from the U.N. for literacy programs, saying it was only “monastic education literacy” in order to have Burma demoted from a less developed nation to a least developed nation, in order to qualify for more international aid. This is widely recognized as one of the tipping events which set off the mass pro-democracy movement, which brought Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy, to the forefront and which continues mobilizing and speaking out under severe duress to this day.
Last year, in September, the military regime beat, killed and imprisoned many monks who were peacefully demonstrating and chanting the metta suttra, in what is now known as the Saffron Revolution. The junta has been s-l-o-w-l-y dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on a document it calls a “constitution” for fifteen years, and May 10 was scheduled to be the date of a countrywide referendum. Up till Monday, the junta was insisting that it would go ahead but it does not seem as if it will be able to.
Survivor stories -- http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=11823
Burmese Americans are having a hard time finding ways to send aid. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080507/ap_on_re_us/myanmar_helping_out
A food drop is not a good option. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080508/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_myanmar
I remember seeing bags of rice burst into the flood waters from “food drops” in Bangladesh.
I’d like to conclude by saying that aid needs to go in and go in fast. Already bloated corpses are floating in the water, which is salt water, so water purification tablets cannot be used. The United States and the Bush administration and Burmese exile communities overseas and international volunteers should play a leading role in both the delivery and monitoring of emergency aid as well as long term structural changes. Tropical storms are likely to grow more severe worldwide due to global warming, but in Burma the disaster has been much exacerbated by the military junta’s years of neglect of physical infrastructure and civil society. One dissident mentioned all the forests that have been felled, making Rangoon much hotter these days. All the junta has known is how to enrich themselves and how to hang onto their own power. This has to end.
Kyi May Kaung (Ph.D.) is a Burmese writer and Burma analyst in exile.
This was written two days ago.
Thank you Wild River Review for timely publication.
In the meantime, the Burmese junta is acting true to form.
The U.N. is reported to be furious and has stopped aid shipments because its first consignment was confiscated and is now lying on the tarmac.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
also US Campaign for Burma --
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
This really jogs my memory -- one source not acknowledged are the paintings by famous Burmese artist U Ba Kyi.
Anyone who has a copy of this now rare book, please leave a message on this blog.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
"Bogalay" means "little boss" or "little Englishman."
Here is White House Comment Line --
1600 Pennsylvania Av.
Washington DC -- 20400
202 456 1111
fax 202 456 2461
I knew someone who worked as a volunteer there during the Clinton Administration -- and the President really reads the comments.
now how would people in Burma get chlorine for clean water --
a friend of mine who is a nurse says drinking water has to be brought to a rolling boil, using firewood from fallen trees.
I don't know how the Burmese junta's foreign ministry gets its figures, but they go up by 10,000 each time the minister speaks to the (international) press.
Meanwhile videos show fat generals standing around awkwardly in still well pressed uniforms.
Video shows packages being packed onto an army van, but taken where?
Anyway, they have allowed in one foreign correspondent, CNN's Dan Rivers.
I don't want it to be "Burmese die while Nero fiddles."
Monday, May 05, 2008
Press release from US Campaign for Burma -- important for aid to go to reputable international agencies who will deliver direct to the people --
Massive Cyclone Hits Burma
US Campaign for Burma Calls for U.S. To Help
Burmese People Since Military Regime Will Not
On Friday night, a massive cyclone (hurricane) hit Burma. It is estimated that between 4,000 and 10,000 people have been killed. Hundreds of thousands are without water and food prices have skyrocketed. We believe that hundreds of thousands are without shelter and many more homes lost their roofs. Tens of thousands of people are missing.
Worst, the military regime did practically nothing to warn the Burmese people of the cyclone, and 48 hours after the "hit" the regime has still not asked for any international aid. The Burmese people are in deep trouble and very, very angry. This behavior is fully consistent with the military regime's denial of access for aid agencies to help victims of the military regime's war on civilians in eastern Burma.
We are using all of our tools and contacts to organize an urgent call for the U.S. government -- which has very generously donated to help the millions of refugees that have fled Burma's military regime over the past 10 years -- to step forward and provide major, emergency assistance. It is critical that this assistance goes to the victims of the cyclone and not the notoriously corrupt military regime, which will siphon off funds and support for itself.
Please see our press release from today, below this message. We will let you know about the U.S. response.
In the meantime, we are setting up a mechanism so that you can help if you want to make direct donations to the victims of the cyclone. Stay tuned for more on that.
Aung Din, Jeremy Woodrum, Jennifer Quigley, and Thelma Young
Press Release: May 5th
Activists Call for US Government to Provide Emergency Assistance to Cyclone
Victims in Burma
Contact: Jeremy Woodrum (202) 246-7924
(Washington, DC) The United States Campaign for Burma today called for the U.S government to respond to a major humanitarian crisis in Burma made by tropical cyclone Nargis, by providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Burma. The military regime has placed disastrous restrictions on humanitarian organizations operating inside Burma, forcing some to stop their operations. During this humanitarian crisis the regime must allow relief organizations to reach the most vulnerable populations. Delivery of assistance must be immediate and unfettered by the authorities.
The Burmese military regime did almost nothing to warn the people of Burma. Instead, the regime's newspapers have been chock-full of propaganda about why the people of Burma should vote "yes" on a referendum that is an attempt to entrench military rule for many years to come.
The junta's security forces and militias, who have been quick to attack and arrest democracy activists, are playing no role in helping the victims of the cyclone. According to Aung Zaw, editor of the respected Irrawaddy magazine based in Thailand, said "People are very angry with the slow response coming from the military government."
In contrast, everyday villagers and citizens are beginning to clear the debris by hand. Buddhist monks, who led nationwide, peaceful protests aimed at ending military rule in Burma last autumn, are now on the streets, cleaning debris together with the people and helping the victims.
Cyclone Nargis devastated major parts of Burma, including major damages in the country's largest city of Rangoon and throughout the Irrawaddy Delta region, Bago (Pegu) Division, Karen State and Mon State. Wind speeds of 120 mile per hour (190 Km/hr) and rain lashed the region from the night of May 2nd to the morning of May 3rd. During over seven hours of turmoil, up to half of the houses in Rangoon were destroyed and many others lost their roofs. Satellite Townships (similar to suburbs) in Rangoon, such as Hlaing
Tharyar, Shwe Pyi Thar, Dagon Myothit North, and Dagon Myothit South were hit hardest. In Irrawaddy Division, two Townships -- Kyaik Lat and Latputda -- were almost completely destroyed. On Heingyi Island, there are nearly 100,000 people without homes or shelter. In Pyinsi Village in Pyar Pone Township, out of 3,000 villagers, at least two thousand are missing. The Burmese military junta claims that 4,000 were dead, but the actual number of deaths is believed to be much higher.
It is estimated that it will take several weeks to restore electricity and telephone communication in Rangoon. The entire city is paralyzed and hundreds of thousands of people are panicking. It is widely expected that the Burmese military regime will make only symbolic efforts to help those affected. Residents of areas hardest hit by the storm have yet to receive assistance and their basic survival needs are in peril.
"We call on the US Government to provide emergency assistance to the Burmese people immediately through humanitarian agencies," said Aung Din, Executive Director of the U.S. Campaign for Burma. "Cyclone Nargis directly hit Burma; its tsunami-like effect requires the United States and the international community to respond immediately or many more people will die."
"It is critical that any aid provided not be delivered through the notoriously corrupt government. The military and the organizations run by
the wives of the Generals will only siphon off money and keep supplies for themselves. Money and humanitarian assistance should only be provided to trusted, international humanitarian organizations who can reach the victims of the cyclone directly," added Aung Din.##
Sunday, May 04, 2008
It is criminal that the regime didn't warn the people that the typhoon was coming, however if the regime doesn't react quickly their is a serious risk of disease sweeping through the affected areas. Thousands of people could die. It is critical that the regime asks for international assistance immediately. The UN has offered to help and the regime must accept. Hundred's of thousands of people are affected. The Red Cross accepted donation from Japan (about US $20,000) and this is a fact... the state premier made the red cross return it.
We must do all we can to get the It is vital that we do all we can to get photos and videos out of the country, DVB and other networks are doing all the can to get images out. Please get in touch with anyone you were in touch with during the September uprising and let them know that if they get any images they can email me directly at email@example.com and I will make sure, using Burma Global Action Network's wide range of networks, that the images are available to Burma groups around the world, global media and news agencies. Any images that we can credit will be widely used, but the media won't wait around, we have to give them photos as soon as we can.
We have to act fast on this, the next 48 hours are critical.
Please, please, please spread the word and email me anything you find.
I am not going to be sleeping much at all over the next 48 hours, right now their (sic) are people in Burma struggling to save their homes and find food and the regime is in total disarray. They need us.
I could not cut and past the "inside news" in Burmese -- but it said that
"All of Rangoon is upside down . . . corrugated iron roof sheets are running/drifting on the roads, Kamayut, Hlaing, Myenigone, Shwegonedine, (among hard hit), University Avenue, Sanchaung, pretty bad . . . small huts in Hlaing Tha Yar all gone, children are pitiful. . . .
Could not get GSM or line phones. No TV or radio (Myanmar Ah Than -- government run radio)
no line buses running . . . no Internet at all (cannot even think of an alternate server?)
rumors of another storm."
This came via NLD (Liberated Areas) in Korea.
Nargis -- was name of a famous Indian singer and comes from word nargissi -- meaning narcissus.
Boiled eggs encased in meat and fried (called Scotch eggs in West) are called nargissi kofta and are featured in one of Salman Rushdie's novels.
200 reported killed and extensive damage in Rangoon. Will cut and paste in separate "inside news" (in Burmese) in a new posting.