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Burma ‘to let in ALL aid workers’, For How Long?

May 23, 2008

Burma’s top leader has agreed to let all foreign aid workers into the country for relief work in cyclone-hit areas, UN head Ban Ki-moon has said.

After talks in Burma’s remote capital, Naypyidaw, with Gen Than Shwe, Mr Ban said the decision was a breakthrough.

But correspondents say Burma has a record of withdrawing promises made to the UN, and it is not clear how much access aid workers will get.

About 78,000 people died and 56,000 are missing after the 2 May cyclone. Burma’s military leaders had previously refused to allow a full-scale relief effort by foreign aid workers.

They had said that the relief phase of the aid operation was over and that the government was now focusing on reconstruction.

‘Flexible position’

The senior leader had until recently failed to respond to the secretary general’s letters and phone calls.

‘Show camp’

On Thursday, Mr Ban flew over flooded rice fields and destroyed villages and visited a government relief camp in the Irrawaddy delta.

A UN official privately called it a “show camp”, says the BBC’s Laura Trevelyan, in Burma with the secretary general.

Mr Ban said he was “very upset” by the devastation he saw, adding that the international community stood ready to overcome the tragedy.

Western governments have backed Mr Ban’s visit, calling for pressure on Burma’s leadership to do more to help the cyclone victims.

Burmese Blogs

There are those in the Burmese diaspora with relatives in the worst-affected areas who have waited for days with no news from home.

Dr Lun Shwe says on his Burmese language blog that his wife’s family is from Bogalay – one of the worst hit areas.

“We are very anxious and desperate. We are really worried. We are waiting for news but we know it will probably be bad news,” he says in plea entitled “Give back our Irrawaddy!”

He focuses his anger on the failure of the government to warn the public of the advent of the storm.

Ko Moe Thee, a well-known student leader from the 1988 uprising, writes in his US-based blog Golden Colour Revolution posts an e-mail he received from a relief mission which describes how the authorities have obstructed their efforts to distribute aid.

“Now, all the NGOs are trying to support and go to the affected area, and but we cannot go immediately as gov don’t want to permit it,” the email says.

How long can this crisis go without full coverage and assistance? The junta has teased aid workers again and again with promises to allow foreign assistance. They withdraw their permission as easily as they grant it. They keep trying to cover up their inadequacies. Burma is not the exclusive resort for the military elite. There is a whole population that is totally disconnected from those who RULE their future survival. There is a glaring difference between RULING a country and GOVERNING a country. Separation of identity and experience does not allow those in charge to identify or understand the plight of their population. The history of disconnect between leaders and the led is best remembered in the French Revolution. The population allowed themselves to be suppressed without a voice for hundreds of years before they finally turned on the suppressors. How long will the Burmese people tolerate this tyrannical junta? Is this the final blow? Is there a country willing to assist the people? South East Asian dictatorships must be addressed seriously by the modern concept of allowing the people to have a voice determining their future and their welfare. The age old example of allowing the people to suffer to protect the elite few is obsolete and has no place in this century. We are a global community that is only as strong as the weakest link. The weakest are the most vulnerable to breed disease and spread it to the rest of the world. Health and welfare are no longer isolated from the rest of us. Tyrannical approaches to this concept threaten the welfare of the world.

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Senior General Than Shwe, the “old man” of Myanmar

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Degradated mangroves exacerbated Burma cyclone disaster

Burma: A Human Rights Disaster and Threat to Regional Security

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4 Comments
  1. June 5, 2008 1:49 pm

    I agree. It will take a lot more motivation for their neighbors to intervene. If there were more economic interest in Burma, bigger countries would be in their face. Tibet is in the same boat.

  2. June 5, 2008 12:26 am

    the dictators have to leave.

  3. May 25, 2008 3:02 pm

    Thanks Balkan, don’t be a stranger.

  4. balkan permalink
    May 25, 2008 12:51 pm

    Thanks for visit and comment. And here you are doing great job as usual. Keep on writing. All the best!

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