Monday, May 12

Anchor Countries - Burma (Myanmar)

I originally wrote about Anchor Countries last September here. One anchor country I failed to list was Burma. Actually it is unfair to use the country's proper name in this case as a properly run Burma would most likely never end up on a list of anchor countries. Instead, the country, and its population have been held hostage by a military dictatorship that prefers to call itself Myanmar.

So now as everyone knows, Myanmar has been hit by a devastating cyclone. For those who are not familiar with cyclones, think hurricane and typhoon. They are all the same type of storm. Being a low lying country, much of the coastline has been swamped and remains underwater. This leaves over a million people in desperate need of aid and rescue.

As bad as the storm was and the number of deaths caused by it, the total is going to pale in comparison to the deaths that the Government of Myanmar is going to be responsible for, caused in one of the most insidious ways possible, through inaction.

It seems that the Government of Myanmar is out to prove that inaction is one of the most effective and deadliest forms of mass-murder. Well, it is not exactly true that they are doing nothing, as they are working hard to keep foreign and UN aid workers out of the country. This kind of puts the military rulers of Myanmar in a class all to themselves. Hell, even Iran let US Aid workers into their country after they suffered a devastating earthquake in 2003. Myanmar is letting almost nobody in. They just want donors to fly aid in and leave it for them to distribute as they see fit. Unfortunately for them, no one thinks that they will do anything to help the majority of people in distress, mainly because they do not have the resources to do so. Needed most are helicopters, but the only country ready to offer helicopter relief flights is the US, which is not welcome, even if it means the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

Most unfortunate is that only recently has the UN bothered to be seriously concerned about the state of the country. This is where other anchor countries quickly came to their aid: (Noted anchor countries marked with an '*')
In January 2007, Russia* and China* vetoed a draft resolution before the United Nations Security Council calling on the government of Burma to respect human rights and begin a democratic transition. South Africa* also voted against the resolution, arguing that since there were no peace and security concerns raised by its neighbors, the question did not belong in the Security Council when there were other more appropriate bodies to represent it, adding, "Ironically, should the Security Council adopt [this resolution] ... the Human Rights Council would not be able to address the situation in Myanmar while the Council remains seized with the matter." The issue had been forced onto the agenda against the votes of Russia and the China by the United States (veto power applies only to resolutions) claiming that the outflow from Burma of refugees, drugs, HIV-AIDS, and other diseases threatened international peace and security. - Wikipedia
Speaking of the United Nations:
This is the one entity that was supposed to help lift the world towards the 'modern society'. Instead, it is helping countries drift down to the lowest common denominator. This is the Organization that protects the 'rights' of Myanmar and the other anchor countries to abuse and hold hostage their own populations (In violation of UN Conventions) as well as abandon them while their leaders suck these countries dry of assets. This is great for the UN, which can then better reinforce its own need by assuming the responsibility to provide for these people, through the World Food Program and UN Development Program. This may even give those causing the tragedy another income source if the aid agencies pay bribes or facilitation fees to get aid to those they wish to help. Worse, a good portion of the aid may never reach those they intend to help, instead being diverted, again to Government authorities. (Paraphrased from my post here)

One surprising part of this whole disaster is the relative silence of the international community. Sure, some western Governments and the UN are voicing concerns and even outrage that aid workers are being prevented from gaining access to the area, but where is the voice of the rest of the planet? Look at how much outrage the global community mustered against the US over Iraq and still is able to harness over the detention center in GITMO. Those are trivial issues compared to this disaster which seems to leave activists unmoved. That is a shame, because the leaders of Myanmar should be charged with crimes against humanity, or at the very least removed from the leadership of their country or simply eliminated. This is a case where dropping bombs will save many more lives than they will take. The planet will truly be a better place without them. Too bad the UN will never garner up the will to go after the criminal that run the country. Criminals who, while still refusing most aid and offers of assistance, continues to export desperately-needed rice.
The military regime of Myanmar will stick to its commitment to export rice to Sri Lanka, despite having its main rice-producing region severely damaged by the Nargis cyclone a week ago, the Burmese Media reported.

This comes in the light of foreign media reports that thousands were left starving and homeless by the cyclone and farmers have been left desperate for food. The reports quoted civilians who said that all they received from the government was half a pound of rotten rice. The military junta which has a monopoly on rice export will proceed with the exports to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as arranged previously. - Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)
Maybe the price the world has to pay for a better planet is the deaths of the neglected in Myanmar. Maybe this act is the driving force that removes a murderous dictatorship from yet another country. Shame on Myanmar. Shame on China. and most of all, shame on the UN and those member state who protect criminal regimes such as this one. It is the UN who is ultimately responsible for this humanitarian crisis, for protecting bad governments from any serious pressure to change.

Anchor Countries - 27 Sept 07

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