16 May 2008

Birma leaders are funny

I don't usually comment on international politics (other than to have a go at American foreign policy) but this morning I was struck by something I heard on the BBC news. Apparently the military leaders in Burma have decided that the relief effort after the recent cyclone is over and that it is now time to start rebuilding.

Excuse me, would you please repeat that? Yes, they think enough has been done and that the international community should really stop trying to get all this aid in to the country. Bodies are piling up along river banks, cholera is a real threat, people have no water or food and live on the streets among the sewage. In Rangoon, the only place where the international aid workers are allowed to go, things are pretty swell and well organised but nobody has been allowed in to the rives delta where the devastation is enormous. Army checkpoints make sure nobody can get in to the delta to see the situation first hand. it is as if the leaders actually want these people to die.

Meanwhile, the leaders claim they got 92% approval for the new constitution in last week's referendum. The upshot is that people are not getting their wallets out to donate money to the relief effort as they feel the money will be wasted anyway with aid workers not being allowed in to the country.

At the same time in China, after the earthquake, the government is doing everything it can to make it look they are on the case and, from what I read, the relief effort there seems to have gathered pace and is a million times more successful than the one in Burma. Of course China still has a terrible record of secrecy but they seem to be at least willing to let other people help them. That in itself is progress compared to only a few years ago.

Reading about these things makes me sad, sick, frustrated and angry...and happy that I am lucky enough to live in a place in the world where I can moan and bitch about politicians as much as I want, knowing that if a disaster happens, I will be in (relatively) good hands.

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