Sunday, May 18, 2008

A True Crime Against Humanity

You already know about the cyclone that hit the coast of Burma, now called Myanmar by the military junta that seized power years ago in a military coup. And you already know at least a little bit about the human disaster unfolding daily.

Can you possibly imagine the world's reaction if we actually could see the disaster? If there was television or Internet coverage, if there were bloggers on the scene and photographers and newspaper reporters, the world would be in shock.

The New York Times reports that International Pressure on Myanmar Junta Is Building, but the world community is actually reacting slowly and mostly with empty words and meaningless gestures.

    "In the two weeks since the cyclone hit, the junta has allowed in a modest amount of supplies from a number of nations, but relief workers say it is far short of what they need to fend off starvation and disease. The United Nations says only 20 percent of the survivors have received even rudimentary aid."

    "In some of the harshest comments, Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain told the BBC on Saturday that a natural disaster “is being made into a man-made catastrophe by the negligence, the neglect and the inhuman treatment of the Burmese people by a regime that is failing to act and to allow the international community to do what it wants to do."

    "The French ambassador, Jean-Maurice Ripert, warned on Friday that the government’s refusal to allow aid to be delivered to people “could lead to a true crime against humanity,” according to The Associated Press."
The United Nations is impotent. And certain powerful nations, most especially China, generally prevent the UN from taking any action what-so-ever.

So we stand by, appalled at the death of over one hundred thousand people in Myanmar, many from disease, dehydration and starvation, and cry. But we've been watching tragedy after tragedy for decades and done nothing more than build monuments to the dead fifty years after any effort could have been made to save them.

Myanmar's leaders, like cockroaches, fear the light.

    "All foreigners have been expelled and banned from the hard-hit Irrawaddy Delta, even humanitarian aid workers with long experience in Myanmar. Impromptu aid convoys by local groups and private citizens — often with supplies donated by Burmese companies — have been turned back at military checkpoints."

    “These guys are xenophobic,” Shari Villarosa, the senior diplomat at the United States Embassy in Yangon, said in a recent interview, referring to the military leadership.

    "In addition to roadblocks and checkpoints, the junta’s shutdown of the country has included an Internet firewall that blocks most e-mail access. It also has disabled access to a number of computer programs that can evade firewalls, as well as access to dissident Web sites run by exiled Burmese."

    "Many residents of Myanmar get their daily news from the Burmese-language radio services run by broadcasters like the BBC and Voice of America. They listen to shortwave radios at home, away from neighborhood snitches. If they are discovered listening to the foreign stations, several Yangon residents said, they could be detained or beaten, or they could lose their jobs."
Today China continues to protect despots and tin dictators and completely ignore the genocide of hundreds of thousands in Darfur and now in Myanmar. While I don't want to prevent athletes from competing in the Beijing Olympics, I think it's time for all the world leaders to cancel their official visits.


DivaJood said...

Of course, China has acted swiftly and openly to aid the earthquake victims in China - all for show, of course. Meanwhile, the military Junta in Burma (I refuse to call it Myanmar) steals the aid, diverts it, and lies to the people.

The Olympics aside, if the USA were not in a position of weakness due to our own illegal war, we might be able to bring some pressure to bear. Instead, we are irrelevant while we weild our own destruction in the Middle East.

Vigilante said...

As always, Divajood is judicious in tone. She stops short of saying that because we exercised an elective invasion of Iraq, we can no longer can afford an elective invasion of Burma.

But Wizard, you surprise me. With someone with as strong feelings as yours about Darfur, you haven't commented on my statement of the Burma Problem. Absent a comment on your part, I can only assume agreement.