Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The "Silenced" Tsunami Story in Burma (Myanmar)

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.
Jasmine Tokuda

Here is a detailed map of Southern Burma and Phuket:

Here is a Tsunami map with wave action pop-up:
Some information on Geology and Plate Tectonics:
Burma sites


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice blog, Jasmine.
Check out this blog I put up too:

remember Voltaire, that great zen Japanese thinker? Well, he witnessed the 1775 Lisbon Earthquake and wrote Candide. This Great Asia Tsunami of 2004 will change the way we see the world. Keep on blogging, Jasmine.

Mr. Zenman

10:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The somewhat reliable news I heard from inside Burma was that it's largly escaped the big hit from Tsunami. There are some scientific explainations and logical ones as well.

First, Burma's costal areas are largly unpopulated. Comparing to the town of a few thousands people in Southern Burma to Phuket is like comparing to Apple and Oranges. Phuket's popular beaches are the reason for its great death tool as well as the low laying geographical position.

Secondly, the way Tsunamis were created. Since you may have noticed, the most hard hitting areas are parallel to the quake fault zone. North Eastern, Bangladash and Burma are northern part of that fault which didn't got as much destructive Tsunamis as the other areas such as Malaysia, Indonisia, South Eastern India, Sri Lanka and Maldives.

Another proof of that is people who were at Choung-Thar beach area which is at southern part of middle Burma. It's directly facing Indian Ocean ( I went there a few years ago so I know the location and the possibility of getting hit hard from Tsunamis ). It wasn't affected by it.

Last, but not least, declining help from relief agencies are not a bad thing either. India for example not only deline help but sent its Navy to help others namely Sri Lanka. If a county is capable of helping its own citizens, then it's OK to refuse help and help itself. I believed that Burma is currently capable of helping itself given the situaration. But of course, they could have wisely used some aids for the good of the people. But that's entirely different matter. Given the history of ruthlessness and stupidity shown by the rulling Junta, it's not surpising to me that they have choosen bone-head approach.

Santa Clara, CA

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are some things which I cannot understand. Why must dammed Americans tell people how to run their lives. Please don't tell me that USA is a beautiful and free country with no prejudice and no suppression etc. Don't bullshit people who knows USA. I for one have lived and studied in the USA and there are creeps who cheat and threatened people. Most of all these people have "so-called" links to the central government via CIA. Know what I mean? We are outside of Burma and we don't know if the people are really suffering. Remember what they don't have, they don;t miss. There are happy people in Iraq even during Saddam Hussein why show only those people who are unhappy with Saddam. Be fair, show those who are happy as well.

In America, there are foreigner and especially blacks still being discriminated. What about showing them to the world and say that there is a bloody suppressive government or governmental authorities. Show them and correct your treatment of them, then you Americans have a right to tell the world how to rule their people.

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Yes the people in Burma have sufferred greatly over the past 40+ years. While a large part of the blame can be placed upon the various successive military governments, both the ethnic groups and ASSK must also share their portion of the blame.

Many ethnic groups profess self-determination, yet are only concerned about continuing to reap the rewards of the mineral & timber riches in their zones and a cut of the border trade.

ASSK started with right aspirations, but has let the people down with her stubborness in regard to the basis for negotiations with the government. She wishes to be a martyr like her father..Yet while she waits for the goverments to meet her bottomline, more people suffer.

So with all three groups vieing for position, the people continue to suffer...

Unfortunately the group that could bridge the gap certainly between ASSK and the government - the Buddhist Sangha - has failed to become a neutral party. The Sangha has either taken sides or chosen to stay out of the fray and do their own thing in their area like Thamanya Sayadaw did in Karen State until his death.

And while all this is happenly, the imperialists of China, Thailand, Malaysia, & Singapore rape the riches of Burma's land and seas. Yes, Jasmine, the neo-imperialists blow not from the West, but the East. That is why ASEAN does not condemn Burma. So Jasmine if you wish to expose the exploiters of Burma such as Unocal, identify those East Asian companies and governments that provide support to the goverment...or Jasmine, since they are not Western, they are not imperialists. Have you been to Mandalay or Lashio they look like Burmese towns or Chinese towns....

Jasmine, if you want to help don't just sit there in write a blog railing against the government...that doesn't alleviate the people's suffering...Go to the border area and help with the refugees or send support to the Dr. Cynthia and her people or similiar groups. Organize a medical mission into Burma to help the Chins and the Arakanese.....etc. While people argue and talk, the suffering increases with rising cost of food, food shortages, no access or access to poor healthcare, internal displacements, joblessness, etc. The people in Burma and in the refugees camps in Thailand & Bangladesh need the help at the bottom rung of Maslov's need hierarchy - survival...after satisfying that, they can deal with the aspirations at the higher rungs.

Iron Butterfly

9:16 PM  

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