The Asian Tsunami Disaster has caught the worlds attention by the sheer magnitude and devastation of it. The worlds attention is riveted by all of the stories coming from this area. The generosity of American citizens and others has been inspiring.
But no one has reported on how Burma, just up the coast from Phuket, Thailand has fared, other than to give a death toll estimated by the Red Cross the day after it happened. I've been trying to get people to think about Burma (Myanmar) for over 20 years, a communist country with human rights violations far worse than Saddam's. Why don't we hear more about it?
Their government, called the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has very tight control over the media, and foreign journalists are not welcome. Reporting on the news that is not coming out of Burma, and highlighting how their politics will continue to cause untold deaths, will hopefully bring more world attention to the problem. Thailand has been swamped with a Burmese refugee and drug problem and would love nothing more than to help the Burmese restore Democracy.
I'm attaching links to news on Burma. It shows the best news coverage we will likely see, on this region as their government is likely to downgrade the damage and loss of life from the Tsunami to avoid asking for aid, which would bring their regime under scrutiny and possible loss of power. The leaders believe that this Tsunami and subsequent earthquakes in Burma in the following days as a harbinger of change of regime. The leaders toured the country to assess earthquake damage to pagodas, but never bothered to visit tsunami affected areas.
Below is a link to a map of the area so you can see how close Southern Burma is to Phuket, Thailand. Their death tolls have to be at least in the100's, but their original count hasn't been upgraded from 90 since Monday December 27th, and only on January 4, 2005, has an estimated 30,000 people need aid come to light. In the southern most part are subsidence fishermen, who are some of the poorest in the world, many are the famed "Sea Gypsies" living on their boats. There is also a thriving pearl industry. Some of the coast was partly protected by islands, but I wonder about those living on the islands. The government is operating an illegal gambling casino on an island using a Thai area code, there is also a Chinese military outpost, and a penal colony in the CoCo islands. Also the Irawaddy delta, their "ricebasket" has been impacted, with some paddies being spoiled by saltwater and other contamination, but information on this is also limited.
Unocal entered into an oil and gas extracting contract in 1997 just weeks before sanctions against Burma were enacted. I went on to the unocal website, and found they donated 1,000,000 Baht. When i used a currency exchanger, it amounted to a little over $25,000. The governing junta is largely financed by oil and opium revenues.
Nobel Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi was elected president in 1990, but the military junta would not allow her to take office, and has kept her under house arrest much of the time since then.
This may be the best chance the Burmese people have of seeing Democracy. (There are
Democratic opposition groups which might be useful) Getting money into Burma through non governmental channels (possibly through Thailand) would be a big help.
I will keep on praying for all these unfortunate devastated people impacted by all of the layers of disaster that have and will unfold over the next days, weeks, and months ahead. Thanks for everything you do.