Thursday, June 19, 2008

Who was there to help?

In a squalid, bare room dozens of survivors from Cyclone Nargis sat and laid upon the concrete and thin mats of a monastery in Burma's afflicted Rangoon Division – the complex's hti standing ominously and noticeably askew. Just shy of a week after the devastating storm, the monastery and its remaining monks were supplying what relief they could. And what relief the monastery was in a position to supply, was not nearly adequate.

This is a scene that played itself out seemingly ad infinitum throughout Rangoon and Irrawaddy Divisions in the immediate wake of the storm, which hit Burma's delta region with all its force on May 2nd.

--Read More: here

Volunteers burying storm victims arrested

The 'Myanmar Tribune' journal chief editor Aung Kyaw San and at least six of his colleagues who had buried cyclone victims in devastated areas were arrested on June 14 by the authorities.

The volunteer grave diggers of 'Myanmar Tribune', CEO Aung Kyaw San (45) and six of his colleagues buried the remains of a number of cyclone victims in Bogale Township, Irrawaddy Division. They were detained last Saturday.

--Read More: here

NLD calls for parliament to be convened

The National League for Democracy, Burma's main opposition political party urged the military junta yet again to convene Parliament to solve the political dilemma the country is facing.

The statement issued by the NLD said the country is facing a national crisis in the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Cyclone Nargis. And it needs to be tackled at the earliest.

--Read More: here

Is Cyclone Aftermath Creating a Burmese Civil Society?

The aftermath of Cyclone Nargis has produced a number of local private relief groups in a country where civil society is under strict scrutiny by the authorities—giving rise to the question: could this phenomenon grow into some kind of social structure?

Shortly after the cyclone struck, a Laputta Township youth group, previously involved in offering funeral services for poor people, set up a cyclone relief team, together with local monks.

--Read More:

New Hydropower Dam to Displace Thousands

More than 3,500 people, including many ethnic Kayan in southern Shan State in eastern Burma, will be displaced by a new dam being built in the Pyinmana hills, according to the Kayan Women’s Union.

The Kayan Women’s Union released a report, “Drowning the Green Ghosts of Kayanland,” on Wednesday saying the Upper Paunglaung Dam will flood 12 villages and submerge more than 5,000 acres of fertile farm land about 26 miles east of Burma’s new capital at Naypyidaw.

--Read More: here

Local Activists Blast Relief Effort

Burmese humanitarian activists have complained that the distribution of aid to cyclone survivors is uncoordinated and is restricted to people in urban areas.

A well-known activist from Mandalay, Than Myint Soe, said on Tuesday that private donors and international aid agencies are not cooperating or sharing information while distributing aid to cyclone survivors in the Irrawaddy delta.

--Read More: here

Regime Steps Up Crackdown on Private Cyclone Relief Efforts

Despite assurances of free access by private donors to cyclone-devastated areas of Burma, the military government continues to arrest individuals taking aid to survivors of the May 2-3 storm.

Ten donors have been arrested since the beginning of this month, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

--Read More: here