Sunday, May 18, 2008
Over 100 campaigners, mostly Burmese took part in a protest at the French and US Embassies and the British Foreign Office in London, for the May 17th Global Day of Action for Burma Cyclone Victims. More than 30 events took place worldwide, including in UK, USA, France, Spain, Hong Kong, Thailand, Chile, Australia, Canada, Belgium and Czech Republic. The official death toll has exceeded 140,000 with aid agencies saying 2.5 million people are at further risk.
The protesters called on the French, US and British governments to find ways to aid the Burmese cyclone victims. They were grateful for aid donations given by the international community and the efforts by governments and NGO's to give aid.
The Burmese junta has imposed many obstacles on those wanting to aid cyclone victims, whilst the junta has been more concerned with rigging the military constitution referendum. In the cyclone disaster hit areas the referendum will be held on May 24th, with cyclone victims seeking shelter already having to be moved to make way for the ballot box stations. Head of State General Than Shwe visited the suburbs of Rangoon (not even the devastated Irrawaddy delta region) for the first time after 2 weeks since the cyclone. He already announced the "end to the relief phase" last week and the beginning of a "reconstruction phase". This meant awarding construction projects to the junta cronies for repairs to the tourist sites in Rangoon. After 18 days since the cyclone Nargis hit on 2nd May, aid has only reached a quarter of those in need according to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The UK, France and US have ships in the area capable of supplying massive relief aid but they have been waiting days for diplomatic negotiations with the junta to permit them to save the lives of thousands of Burmese.
ASEAN ministers met on Monday to agree a limited UN coordinated aid deal with Burma. But the deal doesn't allow in foreign experts from the west who have experience in dealing with crises on this scale, and doesn't allow in foreign military with the capacity and logistical experience to deliver aid in the hard to reach delta region.
Full Story and more pictures on Indymedia
May 17th: Global Day of Action for Burma's Cyclone Victims Facebook Event Page