Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Burma / Myanmar Cyclone
I've watched with some disbelief the numbers of Burmese people killed in Cyclone Nargis rise from 350 to 50,000. The Times reports, too, that the junta which runs Burma (or, as the military insist on calling it, Myanmar) were warned 2 days before the cyclone struck (by India) and that they are still hesitating about opening their borders for aid.
The plight of the Burmese people over the past decades has been a sad and worsening one, and the recent cyclone is not just a meteorological tragedy. While the weather cannot be controlled, many lives could have been saved were it not for the oppressive control of a small number of people who have grown rich off Burma's teak forests (now largely gone) while censoring, depriving, and imprisoning those it is meant to govern, preventing any means of discussion.
Emma Larkin's Finding George Orwell in Burma is an all-too readable account of the situation in Burma; Emma Larkin is a pseudonym because of the restrictions of the Myanmar junta on foreign journalists and writers. I'm not one to recommend an Amazon purchase, but they're selling it for $6 in hardcover.
Burma's story is continually passed over without resolution, and I fear that the solution isn't monetary aid (though that's necessary) or people helping on the ground (thought that's vital) but some larger form of action. To find out more, go to Irrawaddy, a Thailand based magazine focussing on Burma.
To donate, I suggest here