Friday, May 09, 2008

Hello? Myanmar?

I read the news reports about Myanmar's refusal to let aide in to help the cyclone victims. The UN flew 38 tons of food and survival materials to take care of 95,000 people for one day. The government refused to let them distribute it and so it is all sitting on the tarmac. Under these circumstances, the UN cannot bring in more supplies. The Prime Minister of Australia is baffled as visas for Autstralian aide volunteers are delayed, saying that he's never seen anything like this before. China, a longtime friend of Myanmar's, has been trying to persuade them to allow outside help, to no avail. The US military is positioned to air drop food and supplies without touching down. A Myanmar politician is trying to convince his country to concentrate on helping the cyclone victims instead of continuing on to hold an election to ratify a constitutional amendment to strengthen military power, also to no avail.

Even worse, I read this snippet of a CNN report:

"To complicate matters, Myanmar's embassy in Bangkok, Thailand -- where aid groups have been waiting for days for entry permission -- was closed Friday for a holiday."

Does anyone have an explanation as to why Myanmar is behaving this way? The only lame excuse I see written is how Myanmar has been closed to the outside world since 1962, but I tell you, it is no real explanation. To what extent do the citizens languish before the decisionmakers in their government start to take action? If at all?

The only thing that I can think of is that the government is frightened and distrustful. It is in a vulnerable position that it has never been in before. And, I don't think that they really understand the magnitude of their problem. But that's letting them off too easily. There is something more sinister here. I would call it evil.

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