06
May
08

On air: Is it right to use a natural disaster to bring about change?

The death toll from Saturday’s cyclone in Burma is now over 22,000. Hard as it, we’re going to try and hear from as many people there as we can. It’s unlikely I know, but if you are there, or have relatives in Burma, and would like to share your experiences, you’re welcome to get in touch.

Beyond establishing what’s happening as best we can, we’re going to on and talk about the political ramifications of this cyclone. Will this terrible event bring change in Burma?

We’ll be getting assistance from the BBC’s Burmese Service.

Many argue that the tsunami of 2004 made a peace deal possible in Aceh, Indonesia.

Will allowing aid agencies into Burma have an impact on the country, regardless of their non-political nature? If you oppose the military regime, terrible though it is to say with so many dead, should this be seen as an opportunity to open up this closed country and undermine those in power?

Every major media organisation, including us, is currently trying to get into Burma for instance. We’re doing it because we want to tell the story, but in doing so we’re clearly trying to do something that the Burmese authorities don’t want us to – report impartially from inside their country. Is that justifiable? Are we supporting change by trying to tell the story?


78 Responses to “On air: Is it right to use a natural disaster to bring about change?”


  1. 1 Brett
    May 6, 2008 at 14:06

    It is right to use a natural disaster to bring about or facilitate change for the good of the people in the country. It is not right to use a natural disaster to bring about change for the benefit of MNC’s or an outside countries political or economic agenda.

    Regards,
    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  2. 2 Robert Evans
    May 6, 2008 at 14:29

    Its critical that the world is able to assist the people of Burma recover from this massive natural disaster which has sadly occured in Burma. I think that people with the financances should contribute to the funds which are more than likely to set up after this major natural disaster in Burma.

    The United States say that they have assigned $250,000 to the recovery process. Although this is a good start it will almost certainly take many millions of dollars and so the entire world should be involved in financing and assisting the people of Burma to recover from this natural disaster

    I would like to send my simpothy to the people in the region affected

  3. 3 Paulo
    May 6, 2008 at 14:37

    Whether right or not, it does happen. If the government fails miserably to protect people from a disaster that could’ve been much less severe with proper infrastructure, people are going to get angry. If they get angry enough, they’ll push for change (violently if necessary). Nature has often been the impetus for such change. Food shortages caused by bad harvests due to unfavorable natural cycles have led to riots and revolutions.

    Conversely, good government response can also lead to change as well. The US government’s response to the Mississippi floods of 1927 helped sweep then Commerce secretary Herbert Hoover into the White House in 1928. Hoover, an engineer, was called upon to organize the government’s response eventhough it didn’t actually fall under his responsibilities as Commerce secretary. Hoover didn’t do so well with the man-made disaster of the Great Depression a couple years later…

  4. 4 Muthee Mwangi
    May 6, 2008 at 14:44

    Hi Ros,
    My answer to these is fairly short and to the point, it is a big NO. One’s country’s political agenda should not come into play if they really want to help people in another country suffering from a natural disaster, regardless of the political class leanings in that particular country.
    However, if the military junta does learn something and they realize isolating the country from the rest of the world does not help, well and good.
    Muthee, Nairobi.

  5. 5 Poonma Ram Bishnoi
    May 6, 2008 at 14:46

    Hi
    Natural diseter is what human kind not have the control on it.
    What we can do for them is provide the instantly help to affected people
    regardless of their religion,country or any other aspect because
    we all definetly require help at times and then we really feel what needy
    people feel like.

  6. 6 Obeds
    May 6, 2008 at 14:50

    Hi WHYS,

    Change is an inevitable part of life and we should learn to embrace it; it comes in many ways and at any time; unfortunately we humans have a penchant for effecting change after a major catastrophe- if this is the only way change can happen then so be it. May be we should ask when is it appropriate to effect change!!

    Thanks

    Obeds from Nairobi

  7. 7 gary
    May 6, 2008 at 15:01

    Providing help is the most important activity after a natural disaster. Relief workers must strive swiftly to reestablish normalcy, to help the living find their loved ones, and to bury and mourn their dead. In short, treat the injured people as if they are injured people. Far from representing an opportunity, suggesting political change will do damage. Let food, care and helping hands communicate political worth by implication.
    g

  8. 8 CarlosK
    May 6, 2008 at 15:03

    Good day

    The simple answer to your question is YES. The reason- 99.9% of us only change our bad ways when confronted by near death experiences, e.g., some promiscous people only stop sleeping around after contracting AIDS, some people only decide to surrender to God after a near death experience, some drunk drivers only stop drinking and driver recklessly after killing a innocent bystander or two or becasue they go to prison and can’t have ready access to alcohol and I could go on and on and on.

    Human beings are naturally resistant to positive change because of our sinful nature. Accountable/responsible Freedom/democracy is the only system of governemnt sinful human being can practive without resorting to a state of total anarchy.

    Out of bad can come good and God is the only person able to turn a curse in to a blessing. If freedom for Burma is achieve in the long run because of the Cyclone, them as terrible as it is now, many Burmese will be thankful for it. Freedom is a gift/blessing from our Lord. No man, woman, boy or girl has the right to tacitly or openly take away anyones freedom of choice.

    Any opportunity to restore human rights should be encouraged as long as the right of the person to remain captive if he/she chooses is also respected. That is why America has to respect the rights of Cuban to remain communist /captive until they come to the knowledge of how more superior and better freedom/democracy is compared to cold and godless communism.

    Carlos, Kingston- Jamaica

  9. May 6, 2008 at 15:07

    Myanmar [Burma] is in my thoughts and prayers.

  10. 10 Kalypso
    May 6, 2008 at 15:23

    Of course, it is right! Everything should be used to bring about change!
    Unfortunately, I don’t believe it will change much in Burma.
    Vienna, Austria

  11. 11 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 6, 2008 at 15:30

    Hi again everybody,
    First of all I am deeply shocked at the number of victims. Initially it seemed to be a few hundred which is bad enough. Now we are into the thousands! What took so long?

    It seems sad to have to wait for a disaster of this magnitude to make change, but if change can be made as a result then surely it has to be good.

    Have aid workers etc. actually been allowed in yet. If I made a donation would it actually get to the people in need?

  12. May 6, 2008 at 15:37

    You speak of natural disaster, but, what about man made disaster combined with natural disaster. Take the case of Sri lanka where over 70.000, Tamils have been killed from 1983 due to civil war. A further 30,000 were killed in the North east of Sri lanka dueto Tsunami.
    Many thought Tsunami will help to sort out the problems between the Tamils and the Sinhalese. Unfortunately things have become worse. The governmaent has effectively prevented aids reaching the northeast half way thruogh, while allowing aids in the form of rebuilding houses etc ( more than what is required ) in the south ,where Sinhalese live.
    NGO’s are not allowed to to visit and help the victims in the north east where 80% of the population is living below the poverty line due to war and Tsunami.
    Agreements were reached between the government and the tamils to have an Internal self governig authority (I.S . G .A) which was later abrogated by the government. The western governments are to be blamed for the state of affairs in Sri lanka.They continued/continue to give aids in variuos forms including arms for the genosiside of the tamils. The NGO’s too were responsible by aiding and abetting (despite their workers being murdered with the government support in northeast) the government in their discriminatory policies with regard to the aids. In fact they should have stopped aid To Srilanka when they were not allowed to give aid to to the northeast under various pretext .
    Even now India, U.S.A,UK,Japan and Europe continue with their hipocritical ways in helping Sri lanka with their aid knowing very well that it is being used to kill a section of the population.
    Hence youe Talk Shop about Burma is not going to help as long as selfishness is given the pride of place by various countries who shed crocodile tears.
    Natural Disaster cannot be avoided, but man made disasters can be, if ther is a will.

  13. 13 Cheburet John
    May 6, 2008 at 15:38

    NO. While such a disaster might provide an opportunity to open up Burma to the outside world, I think the point of focus now should be humanitarian assistance to the affected people. Politics should take the back-seat. Otherwise, it would be taking advantage of those sufferng to play politics.

  14. 14 Ana Milena, Colombia
    May 6, 2008 at 15:44

    Hi! 🙂
    Hmmm… I’ve changed my mind.

    Yes! It might cause change! In a moment of need, they must be aware of how helpful external support is. Their pride or whatever it is should be left appart. If there’s enough help from other countries and the support of the media, they’ll sooner or later understand outside intervention is something they’ve always needed – in a balanced way, of course.
    And, why not, their military regime might become a more flexible thing. You know, this country’s faced other necessities before this weekend’s tragedy. Hopefully, they’ll allow other entities to take steps in solving them.

    I’ll keep on praying for people in Myanmar.
    I’m still waiting for the opening of the support campaign in my country!! 😦

  15. 15 thelegendali
    May 6, 2008 at 15:53

    If that,s what it takes to bring a long standing conflict to an end, then so be it. It works in the case of Indonesia and I beleive it can work in Burma. While it is true that we regret the human cause attached to it, but we should remember that there is no free peace or freedom.

  16. 16 Greg in the States
    May 6, 2008 at 15:58

    Yes it is, especially when you hear people like First Lady Laura Bush speak out against the government there. are the kinds of things that can make life better for the down trodden of the world. The US has already pledged a massive 250.000.00 to the relief effort. If only she would consider running for President !
    Greg

  17. 17 Kwabena
    May 6, 2008 at 15:59

    Change is desperately needed in Burma and whatever window of opportunity arise, action towards change must be taken irrespective of how the opportunity presents itself.

  18. May 6, 2008 at 16:00

    Hi WHYS,
    You are definitely supporting change by trying to tell the story but doing so at all costs (like sneaking into the country) may appear to be violating a country’s territorial integrity, however nasty a regime may be. Food for thought!

    Walter in Entebbe, Uganda

  19. 19 Will Rhodes
    May 6, 2008 at 16:03

    Is it right – no! It will happen, or will at least be tried.

    Burma must be encouraged to change, but that is up to the international community. What must happen now is that countries come to her and her peoples aid.

  20. 20 Ahmad Hammad
    May 6, 2008 at 16:10

    On October 8, 2005 Northern Pakistani territories suffered from the catastrophe of the history, an EARTHQUAKE that engulfed about 150,000 people, and left about 300,000 crippleded.

    In those day, Pakistanis were facing the worst-ever tyrannical rule by a military dictator. We hoped that he would let the exiled popular leadership come in to serve their nation in a moment of agony and gloom. But he never let them come in. Rather he had been iterating in his peculiar stern voice that he would NEVER allow them to come to Pakistan. He used to say, “they are a history now….”.

    Moreover, a banned so-called militant group served in the area astonishingly at a great speed. The zeal and zest of those people left everone dumbstuck. The officials on the other hand were simply unmoved. When the people compared the services of the men of the banned group with those of the government, they were ethically compelled to say that the Jama’at ud Da’wah served far better than anyone else.

    The reward of such a service should haven been the lifting of the ban which was imposed only to please the western powers denying to accept the ground realities. But…..the government never acknowledge it. Rather, the operation against these organization continued. And now we see the consequences of those tyrannical decisions. Our country became unsafe altogether. There were suidice bomb blas all around. We lost too many people. Too many experts. One general of the army even…

    The change could happen only when the sitting general made a fatal mistake. He wanted to remove another sitting official i.e. the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

    And the day came when the general had to doff his uniform, hold the general elections and hand over the reigns of the government to the democrats.

    This means, the disasters don’t bring any considerable changes in the areas where the generals are ruling. What you’ve refered to is a democratic country. Democrats are moved by the disasters, catastrophes etc…

    But, to my experience, the dictators are never moved, never even touched. They tempt to rule even if there’s none left behind to be ruled…..

    Sorry for being bitter, but this is exactly what happened to us after the earthquake in October 2005…

    So, if you expect that Suu Kyi will be heard and the general of Burma will accept the results of the last elections and hand over the reigns of the country to that great lady, I’m afraid this is NEVER gonna happen. Even if (God forbid) none is left to be ruled by these generals in Burma, the generals would never give up ruling over the mass-graveyard…

  21. 21 Allan
    May 6, 2008 at 16:13

    Many religious extremists would call it Karma. I believe it’s a lack of knowledge and planning for such tragic events. If they would like to aid, I believe they should come to an agreement to begin peace talks and change their way of life for the better.
    Allan

  22. 22 Justin from Iowa
    May 6, 2008 at 16:25

    My belief in the stupidity of our American president was once again reinforced by his speech on the disaster in Burma. To paraphrase:

    “Yes, we are dedicated to helping Burma in this time of disaster, and they should let our support and assessment people in. And we are dedicated to the freedom and rights to the people of Burma”

    ….great, when we should be doing our most to get support in there as fast as possible, GWB is putting the Military government’s backs up by attaching freedom and rights to the aid…

    Better to bring that up AFTER the aid is in the country and people are being helped, than to say it now and encourage the Military government to keep holding out.

  23. 23 VictorK
    May 6, 2008 at 16:27

    If it were possible it wouldn’t be right: a country on its knees being bullied to follow an agenda set by outsiders. And change (which needn’t be for the better) doesn’t always happen according to plausible blueprints. Should the externally imposed change agenda fail (as with Iraq and Afghanistan) it’s not the outsiders who imposed it who will have to live with the consequences.

    How many generals were killed by the cyclone? That’s the measure of the impact it will have on the regime.

    There are only three realistic sources of change in Burma: the military (who have no incentive for change), the Chinese (who can’t see any profit in change), and the mass of ordinary Burmese (who so far have lacked the courage to make a change).

    Reporting what’s happening will inform, but there’s no reason to think it will contribute to change.

    Wasn’t an important factor in Aceh the existence of an armed resistance group? The Burmese have so far been relying on a few courageous monks. The weapons of holiness and prayer hasn’t toppled many dictatorships before now.

  24. May 6, 2008 at 16:29

    Everyone involved shall use this chance to show their sincerity and ability to join good forces together. The country has the military force they can move, the international donors have the cash, goods and expertise. Politics aside, this will definitely help the people who are desperately in need of assistance. http://www.mayburma.com

  25. 25 Rashid Patch
    May 6, 2008 at 16:43

    The Bush administration used Hurricane Katrina to ethnicly cleanse New Orleans of half of it’s black population. That population, low income and working class, was displaced and has never returned. Those who did try to return were refused permission to rebuild, and then their properties were condemned and seized. Much of the intact housing left vacant has been condemned and destroyed, and much of the property has been awarded to corporate developers.

    Is it right to use natural disaster to bring about a change? It depends on who is doing it, and what the change is they are trying to accomplish. It won’t help the people of Burma to replace a clique of military tyrants with at group of international corporations.

    Frankly, if Laura Bush – or anyone even remotely connected to Bush – is for it, then I am really suspicious about the motives.

  26. May 6, 2008 at 17:02

    My good friends in Burma : My thoughts and prayers are with you guys, and my heart is bleeding for your suffering… Please don’t you let any outside force exploit the horrific experience that you guys have been through inorder to achieve its own political agenda… You should be the ones calling for change to happy… You should be the ones fighting and struggling to make change happen… Any change imposed from the outside will only lead to painful results. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  27. 27 viola anderson
    May 6, 2008 at 17:03

    Is it right to try to change a country when it has been hit by a natural disaster? For an answer to that question, you would first have to determine if it is ever right for outsiders to force change on a country. If you believe it is the right thing to do in some instances, it follows that it is right to take advantage of a natural disaster to bring about change.

    Do I think it is right? Yes, but gently, gently, with those whose welfare will be affected always in mind. The physician’s admonition of, “First, do no harm,” applies here.

  28. 28 Justin from Iowa
    May 6, 2008 at 17:06

    Mayburma… it is a pity that the government, while it has the military forces, lacks the will to use them for anything other than oppression. 4 days in and reportedly STILL no military assistance from their own government. That’s very poor.

  29. May 6, 2008 at 17:06

    There should never be an ulterior motive when it comes to helping people from a disasterous situation. It’s tactless and insensitive.

  30. 30 Janet T
    May 6, 2008 at 17:23

    Isn’t saying- I will give you this money/relief if you make the changes I want- Blackmail?

  31. 31 jesse basse
    May 6, 2008 at 17:26

    it has happen,what else?what ever relief or help going into burma right now is not for the sake of the godless regime,the heartless dictator,however if going to give help could help bring a change why not,change is a good thing especially in a case like this,a change would mean freedom for a lot of people,change is welcome please.

  32. 32 Ahmad Hammad
    May 6, 2008 at 17:29

    @ Justin and Mayburma:

    The military is a curse, rather a catastrophe itselt, if it is NOT controlled by the civilian executives.

    Once the civilian rule is there in Burma, this very army would be performing faaar better than what she is doing at the moment.

  33. 33 Thea Winter - Indianapolis
    May 6, 2008 at 17:33

    From my experience in seeing many natural and man made disasters is this. We focus in on it for a few months. The world sends in aid to help and then we forget and get on with our lives. Every Christmas time I think about the Band Aid project and wonder if there are still people starving in Ethiopia. Did what Bob Geldof do cause a lasting change in the government? What about Katrina here in the US. Not much is said on that now. It is great in the form to talk about and we all mean good but overall most of us feel bad, help out and then get on with what we need to do for our families. I am talking to myself as much as anyone reading this.

  34. May 6, 2008 at 17:40

    A) natural disasters such as plagues, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, ect. has changed cultural and political landscapes throughout the ages.

    B) Man himself is part of nature. Technically speaking, wars and genocide are in fact “natural disasters”.

    If in the middle of WWII Japan had suffered a major earthquake that took out 50,000 of its people, would we have suspended the war? Would we have helped them rebuild and re-establish their culture? Then would we restart the war and drop a bomb on it?

    The sad part is that the poor and repressed people are often the ones most often killed when a disaster strikes.

  35. 35 Simon
    May 6, 2008 at 17:58

    Relief can come from nearly anywhere. In terrible world disasters (such as this one) relief should be welcomed from wherever- but, almost all international relief is going to be come with the attempt of the givers to excercise a certain amount of influence over that relief (look at laura bush’s statement).
    I truly hope that international politics does not obstruct the aid of the Bhurmese people. Is the international community ready to hand the government there with no strings attached? Is it true that even through today Mayanmar has not issued any visas to the international relief commmunity?

  36. 36 Jonny
    May 6, 2008 at 17:59

    I think the response should be even and unequivocal: expeditious aid sans a political agenda. But, since Ros is asking us to think “strategically”, could it be possible that the regime’s absolute failure to protect its own people finally break the back of this crooked junta?

    Is it tactless to push a reformist agenda? Reform (i.e. the fall of the regime) could help Burma suffer less when the next cyclone hits.

    –Jonny (Los Angeles, CA)

  37. 37 Vijay
    May 6, 2008 at 18:09

    It is worth trying to bring about positive change,but only token aid should be given at first , then wait for the Burmese regime to beg for help.
    The group that will be hurt most by this disaster is the opposition ,look at what happened to the Acehenese in Indonesia and the Tamils in Sri Lanka after the tsunami.The weak and poor always suffer the most in any natural disaster eg.New Orleans(was there any positive change?).
    Think Burma think mini Pakistan,the military is central to the public and private sector and they have the ability to destabilse all their neighbouring countries.

  38. 38 James
    May 6, 2008 at 18:15

    This is interesting as much as its controversial.With the huge disaster in the despot regime in Burma I reckon the first concern would be the safety of the inhabitants. But in the process I think the hardline Military regime if it allows foreign humanitarian workers. Would see the basic human face and concern and hopefully gain a more humane method od administration. We have seen the same here in Kenya after our politically instigated human disaster the new goverment is more open and democratic. Hopefully the same positive change will reign in Burma and hopefully soon in Zimbabwe.

    James in Nairobi, Kenya

  39. May 6, 2008 at 18:16

    Misfortunes are always seized as opportunities to achieve a long thought about, planned or intended advantage, authority, power, control or vengeance by wicked, Godless, and unforgiving people, over the people who are victims of misfortunes. It’s very difficult not to wish the people who do this greater misfortunes and eternal death and suffering in hell. So be it!

    Prince in Nigeria

  40. 40 Justin from Iowa
    May 6, 2008 at 18:17

    I think that the government in Burma is sowing the seeds of its own eventual destruction by ignoring its people in this crisis. This is the sort of event which makes martyrs and drives people to become freedom fighters and guerillas.

  41. 41 Jonathan Rasmussen
    May 6, 2008 at 18:20

    My deepest condolences to the people of Burma, who have suffered so much already.

    Now then: Has anyone actually proposed using aid to attempt regime change, or is this just a flight of fancy to spark discussion?

    It would of course be a terrible idea, futile and counterproductive. Totalitarian regimes like those in Burma and North Korea are already so cynical and paranoid that they cheerfully condemn their citizens to die by the millions rather than risk foreign aid workers entering the country. Any attempt to exploit this catastrophe would only confirm their fear and result in the expulsion of aid workers.

    The only goal of the rest of the world here should be to help the victims of this tragedy. By giving their assistance, they will silently demonstrate to the citizens of Burma, and to their oppressors, the goodness and generosity of the human spirit. That subtle point is the only message that can or should result from this endeavor.

  42. 42 kevin
    May 6, 2008 at 18:21

    the burma opressors are now experiencing a powerless position, now in this tragic moment they are on the same level as the people,times like these bringthe diff 2gether.the world needs 2 b the lucky neighbour who can help.
    kevin in trinidad

  43. 43 Justin from Iowa
    May 6, 2008 at 18:30

    Jonathan, if you listen to the soundbites from GWB’s latest speeches on Burma, he certainly implies it if he doesn’t come out right and say it specifically.

  44. 44 Mark
    May 6, 2008 at 18:32

    Laura Bush’s performance in her news conference on Monday 5/5 showed her both poised and prepared. I’m sure her words influenced many around the world, especially the Myanmar (Burma) generals.

    Do you see her as having a role in U.S. or world government in the future? I would be curious to find out whether her comments created a more positive feeling for the U.S. and for her, as opposed to her husband’s low esteem among world leaders.

    She seems to have a more inclusive world vision than does her husband, a positive trait for dealing with various cultures and countries in today’s world. She also seems to have determination and strength of character to hold her own, not only with the reporters in the briefing room in the White House but also with world leaders and the Security Council.

    I pray for the people of Burma (Myanmar) that they may survive and not experience hunger and deprivation. Let’s hope that the government will continue to allow the U.S., the UN, and many other generous countries to help the Myanmar (Burmese) people.

    Mark
    New York City

  45. 45 julie
    May 6, 2008 at 18:32

    no, no, no! President Bush blew it when he tacked the freedom message onto his offer to help – it is analogous to a surgeon proselytizing religion to his patient, arrogant and counterproductive. All that matters is saving lives.

  46. 46 Ayo
    May 6, 2008 at 18:32

    Yes oooohhh. It is very right. Hopefully the military regime is superstitious and believe this is a work of some deity and that they( the military regime) need to relinquish their strangle-hold on their own people. But yes. The people of Burma have struggled too long. It’s a human tragedy, but hopeful there will be good from it. Plus, this is an opportunity to help the Burmese people. And it should be used.

    Ayo in USA

  47. 47 Jonathan Rasmussen
    May 6, 2008 at 18:33

    Ros, can it be that your fevered speculations are a reaction to George Bush’s offhand remark about how nice it would be for Burma to be free? Please believe me, the man is not nearly so subtle or smooth. He was just rambling to himself.

  48. 48 Daniel
    May 6, 2008 at 18:34

    I will be waiting to hear the comments of the world leaders about the problems in Burma.I compared the military leaders in Burma to Sadam Husain and i’m sure the blood of the deads will cry out until they pay the same way Sadam pain.I pray to God to give peace to the poor and innocents out there.
    Daniel from China

  49. 49 L. Walker
    May 6, 2008 at 18:36

    politicizing the natural disaster wrong? well perhaps if there was a different government in Burma, one that would warn their people about disasters and bring aid when they did occur….maybe this wouldn’t have been such a tragedy.

  50. 50 Tyler
    May 6, 2008 at 18:37

    It is my opinion that no matter the governmental policy, disaster aid and politics should be mutually exclusive terms. Aid shouldn’t go to a government, it should go to the people who have suffered. If there is any chance of getting outside aid to these people then it should be done.

  51. 51 Muhammad
    May 6, 2008 at 18:39

    I share my grief with all Burmese. I think though the Burmese government can’t ensure proper compensation to the affected people yet it must ensure law and order situation as looters take such disasters as ‘great opportunity’. Keep in mind what happened in New Orleans.

    Muhammad
    Gujranwala, Pakistan

  52. 52 Josimar
    May 6, 2008 at 18:42

    My heart goes out to those who have suffered loss of loved ones and property as a result of the cyclone. I totally agree that there should not be any politicization of assistance given to Burma whether from the western powers or from the Burmese bureaucracy. However, the Burmese authority did isolate itself when the Buddhist monks protested in the streets, because the authorities locked down foreign press. Burma has placed itself in a difficult position now to seek such assistance when there was such treatment of foreigners.

    Josimar in Kingston, Jamaica

  53. 53 Peter
    May 6, 2008 at 18:45

    Cyclones don’t have eyes. They don’t spare military either. I don’t think the military have the resources with western sanction. Can a change of regime change quarantee peace and prosperity in Myanmar. The west should stop acting up like their imperialistic past and offer unconditional help. BBC Burmese staff belongs to an ethnic minority rebel group . She should not comment too much. Such talk will cause the military to be uncooperative.

    Peter in Singapore

  54. 54 Myat
    May 6, 2008 at 18:52

    I am a Burmese, and I really feel sad when I see what is happening in my country right now. It is useless to discuss opportunities to remove the military government using this natural disaster. People are dying, and they are my people. And they need help. Instead of fighting over whether to use this opportunity or not, international governments should rush out to find ways to help the Burmese people without any political intention.

  55. 55 Jo Podvin
    May 6, 2008 at 18:53

    3 million dollars is linty pocket change. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where a large house can cost 3 million dollars. The US is spending 7.4 million dollars an hour on the war in Iraq. Asking accountability for 3 million dollars is like asking a homeless person to prove what they will do with the quarter you begrudgingly hand to them.

  56. May 6, 2008 at 18:53

    It’s not a fact of tragedies on our soil, or anyone’s soil. It’s not a fact of how much we give aid. It’s about motives. We had a huge tragedy from hurricane Katrina and the residence of Louisiana were extremely angered at our government. Why can’t the United States give aid, without the receiving government saying, “thank you, but now what do I owe you?” The government has failed to save the thousands of civilians and the millions of expenses in damage. Why don’t the people of Myanmar realize this?

    Allan in the US

  57. 57 Maggie
    May 6, 2008 at 19:00

    President Bush clearly doesn’t really care – it is just another opportunity for him to be a blowhard. An offer of $250 thousand dollars? That is ridiculous. Very similar to his response to
    Katrina… only a little faster. He even “used” his wife this time. He is really just adding to our continuing national shame. I can’t wait until I don’t have to be embarrassed to say I am an American when I travel abroad.

    Maggie

  58. 58 My own mind
    May 6, 2008 at 19:07

    From an American in Georgia,
    My prayers to all during this disaster, my mother lost her home as a result of Katrina.
    George Bush is like the Uncle at dinner who says something where everyone just sighs, disappointed he spoke at all, and as usual, embarassed. Unfortunately Americans, irregardless of their concern for others, are typically stereotyped by our autocratic buffoon of a President.

  59. 59 Syed Hasan Turab
    May 6, 2008 at 19:11

    Tiny little nation may not accept the challange of desaster all alone, we have to help this nation with out political issues, obiously our help & NGO’s public appearance will bring a supportive attitute in Govt & encourage change publically.
    Unconditional supportive behaviour will build up a bridge between public, Dictatorship & Free Democratic society.
    A conditional international behaviour will encourage dictatorship.

  60. May 6, 2008 at 19:12

    It is right to use natural disasters to bring about changes for the better. It is wrong not to use them for this purpose.

    If the natural disaster in Burma can be used to unseat the military despots and give the people a chance at freedom, how can the question ‘is it right?’ even be asked?

  61. 61 Mansour
    May 6, 2008 at 19:13

    The lnternational community should do more to help victims of Cyclone in Burma this is a tragedy.

    Mansour in Monrovia

  62. May 6, 2008 at 19:14

    Yet again, our compassion – and money – is expected. Like your program last friday, the west is regarded as a bottomless pit. Let them take care of themselves!

    Michael in Holland

  63. 63 Alaskai
    May 6, 2008 at 19:23

    Pls for heaven’s sake: kindly allow aid orgs in d affectd areas. Ths is a plea to the Burmese gov’t. Alaskai, Mon, Liberia

  64. May 6, 2008 at 19:34

    The political leaders in Burma are only interested in political intimidation providing aid is non of their business.

    Mike in Kampala, Uganda

  65. May 6, 2008 at 19:36

    Aid and politics should be diffrenciated for the sake of the Burmese people.

    Abdi in Somalia

  66. May 6, 2008 at 19:41

    It is a shame for the Burmese millitary regime not to give full acces to aid agencies. This is a rescue to the victims of the disaster.

    Yego in Somalia

  67. May 6, 2008 at 19:46

    This is a humanitarian situation and needs not be politicised. The west should show their support and not impose their ideologies.

    Majesty in Ghana

  68. May 6, 2008 at 19:49

    The authorities should consider the children and other survivors putting aside internal and external politics because they’ve lost too many people and cannot afford to lose more.

    Harrison in Nigeria

  69. May 6, 2008 at 19:50

    It’s very right to seize any oppotunity to bring about positive change under any condition. It should not be missed in Burma.

    Sasu in Lusaka

  70. 70 Ahmad Hammad
    May 7, 2008 at 00:34

    We, the pakistanis raised as much funds as possible for the victims back in 2004 when a Tsunami hit the asian countries.

    We shall yet again start a campaign to raise the funds for the affected of the catastrophe in Burma.

    But, there surrounds a fear in my mind and that’s about going the funds in some wrong pockets.

    Since it is NOT democracy in that part of the world, I fear the dictator won’t transparently spend the funds for the needy.

    My fear is just deep-rooted. As a matter of fact, there is a big question mark against the transparency of the usage of the funds collected for the victims of the earthquake I have already talked of, either through a much-criticised donors conference in Islamabad or otherwise.

    The funds are said to have gone to wrong pockets since there was no any system of accountability present in the country in the regime of a military dictator.

    It is very simple to comprehend the dynamics of corruption during a military regime. They don’t fear of any accountability. They aren’t anwserable to their constituencies’ people, therefore, they feel free to violate whatever comes there way.

    Can anybody guarantee the transparent usage of the funds in Burma while Suu Kyi is imprisoned and the generals are enjoying the power? The general who even kill those very monks from whom they learnt how to live, in their childhood.

    Suu Kyi should mobilize her people again, for this would be a great remedy for the ill-fated country. This isn’t politicizing the havoc, this is redressing it!

  71. May 7, 2008 at 02:54

    Clean water is top priority now. Muddy water will only add to misery by causing diseases.

    Let us keep away from muddying international relief efforts. Political agendas serve no useful purpose in immediate action to save precious lives now.

  72. May 7, 2008 at 05:39

    If leaders can not managed to bring peaces in world since the time of world war one, How can they manage the natural calamities.Some politians and leaders may blame some others of not warning their people of natural calamity, will you carry 40millions at one time if heavey winds or other natural calamities are coming? Perhap people will escape from wars zone or make peace before the wars cause serious demages but in this world most nations are prepares their weapons for wars.If 3 and 5 years old children know how to call ambulance, fire fighter or polce officer in case of emergency of any of these matters but leaders don’t know how dangers of wars in most cases they are ready or even loaded their weapons to murders. You will use these begin sign of desasters for your politcal superpower and the people in the world will see you as their gods but the ALMIGHTY CREATOR of Universe knows how to crush all evils from this universe.

  73. May 7, 2008 at 06:35

    no natural disaster should not b e used to bring political change if it is in that way it will bring political disaster

  74. 74 Dennis Young, Jr.
    May 7, 2008 at 07:15

    Maybe it is a good time to bring about changed in Burma following
    that Cyclone….

    Thanks,
    Dennis
    Madrid, United States of America

  75. 75 Dennis Cote
    May 7, 2008 at 07:35

    I don’t think natural disaster occurrences are the right time to making change.
    Simply offer the help with no strings attached, if refused, you’ve at least tried.
    Granted the Military hasn’t been doing much in the past,
    but isn’t it possible the military has suffered damage from the storm as well?
    Political issues can be taken care of at a more opportune time.

  76. 76 iamhammad
    May 7, 2008 at 14:04

    “President George W Bush on Tuesday signed legislation awarding Myanmar Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi the highest civilian honour from the US Congress, the Congressional Gold Medal.”

    Above is a news item. Just go through the story thoroughly and decide for yourself. You will find yourself standing at a crossroads. A large number of the thorns of questions will sting you as to how a super power makes the whole wealthy world ally when she has to attack a poor country being ruled over by a military leader. Yes, I am talking of Iraq where she has spent its 3 trillion dollars and 4000 soldiers. But when it comes to aiding a devastated country, there stand only ifs and buts. The sole super power finds herself comprehensively helpless against the junta of Myanmar. In spite of having world’s efficient-most contingency system to any natural hazard, she could do nothing but honoring a highest award to an icon of democracy.

    The irony of fate!

    Isn’t it?

  77. 77 Ingrid B Mørk
    May 7, 2008 at 16:09

    Everyone, everywhere, should do all they can to help the disaster stricken people of Burma and leave politics out of it. Giving aid shows total humanitarian support for the people and tends to highlight the failures of the regime..

  78. 78 On behalf of Burmese people
    May 9, 2008 at 18:03

    On behalf of Burmese people

    There are more than enough reasons for United States and NATO countries to get in to Burma to help and rescue victims, since Burmese Military regime does not care about the millions of the human lives.

    According to an interview with one official from Burma by telephone, estimated number of 600,000 people have died and over 100,000 people are still missing and 800,000 people are waiting for help.
    All forms of international aid have been delayed by military Junta and in most places the people and the relief workers trying to help victims are being disturbed and manipulated by USDA members and soldiers who are also hungry and helpless.

    Meanwhile, SPDC is tackling to win their referendum in other 12 states and divisions of the country. Ministers and Division Commanders of the Military regimes are going out field trips to persuade the people to vote their referendum.

    On the other hand, 800,000 people are endangered by thirst, hunger, lack of safety and epidemic.

    Sadly, on this planet earth, Burmese are treated as sub-humans by its own military government.Is the whole human race powerless to help other fellow human beings?

    The Irrawaddy division is agriculturally the most essential division for Burmese people and it produced one third of the rice production for 57 millions people.
    After the typhoon NAGRIS, the whole delta area’s rice production lands are flooded with salt water. Farmers can’t grow rice on salted land and there are no farmers left to produce rice for the country and the most important agricultural sector of the country has been destroyed.

    In the beginning of every June of the year, Burmese farmers usually prepare to grow their paddy plants in the farming area of the country to feed 57 million mouths. But this year, the rice production will drastically decline because of the typhoon.

    The questions remain: how Military rulers will manage to feed over 50 million people next year, and how the people of Burma will survive without enough food for the following year and what preparations are planned for this matter.

    Bottom line is if the military junta does not change their stubbornness and isolated idea, there will be another huge uprising and powerful revolution of the Burmese people and it will no longer be suppressed through the use of violence.

    Consideration for the United States of America and NATO, If United States of America and NATO decide to take responsibility for Burmese people, it is totally different from Iraq and Afghanistan issue. 57 millions human beings will be free from oppression and genocides, 57 millions helpless people will thank US and NATO and the whole world and the vision of the whole world toward US and NATO will change gracefully and cheerfully.
    As a matter of fact, China and Russia will not agree any decision toward Burma and if it hurts the interest of military junta, because they have closed tie and mutual interests geopolitically and personal profits among them. That’s why they will block any constructive decision for the Burmese people at United Nations.

    United States and NATO do not need United Nations decision and agreement for this matter, but only need to have humane hearts and people oriented vision.

    Even if SPDC were to finally reconsider to accept US aid after their preconditioned voting process for referendum, it would have become too late for 800,000 human lives and the survivals of 57 millions peole in year 2009.

    Thus, the fates of the Burmese people hang precariously from the hands of the mercy of the world. Definitely no longer from the hands of either God or SPDC’s allies; China and Russia!


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