Monday, May 4, 2009

Repression Continues After Burma Cyclone

WASHINGTON, May 4 - "One year after the devastation of Cyclone Nargis, the Burmese military government should release all those imprisoned for independently providing humanitarian aid to victims and for criticizing the government's response," urges an international human rights watchdog.
  • Cleaning up after cyclone. © TZA (flickr)
    Cleaning up after cyclone. © TZA (flickr)

    At least 21 community aid workers were unfairly tried and imprisoned by the Burmese government after trying to assist survivors of Cyclone Nargis, which hit Burma's Irrawaddy Delta region in May last year. Moreover, Burma's military government "obstructed initial efforts by humanitarian agencies to send in relief and gain access to affected communities," says Human Rights Watch. The international monitor is now calling on the government to release those imprisoned for trying to help survivors and commit to reconstruction efforts, while urging international donors to certify that aid is reaching those most in need. (See the full story below.)
  • "One year after Cyclone Nargis struck the Burmese delta on May 2, a sustained effort is still needed to ensure that aid operations continue to assist the Burmese people," appealed Refugees International. The humanitarian group is calling on the United States to commit $30 million in 2010 for food, basic health care, and education. The country originally provided Burma with $75 million in aid, up from the previously budgeted $3 million.
  • Nearly 80 humanitarian groups have provided emergency relief to people affected by Cyclone Nargis. "As a result," reports Refugees International, "the United Nations says that one million people received food aid, nearly 200,000 households got agricultural support, and half a million children received help in education." To read more about what groups responded and how, see's Burma cyclone crisis alert
  • "Burma, also known as Myanmar, is ruled by a military junta which suppresses almost all dissent and wields absolute power in the face of international condemnation and sanctions," says the BBC News Burma country profile. "The generals and the army stand accused of gross human rights abuses, including the forcible relocation of civilians and the widespread use of forced labour, which includes children."

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