Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Testimony From Burma

The UN's World Food Programme is now saying what has been obvious for some time: that the death toll in Burma from the earthquake catastrophe "may be higher than official figures suggest". Well, yes. There is evidence to suggest that some 200 fishermen are missing in the coastal region of Kawthaung though other sources put the figure much higher. What complicates matters - and offers further insight into the priorities of the madmen who run Burma - is that "many areas which would have been in the path of the tsunami are sensitive military installations, including a Chinese naval listening post near the Andaman Islands". The reality is this: we are never likely to know what happened in Burma because the military junta does not admit to anything - the evil of silence.

Nonetheless, we are now beginning to get some firsthand testimony from survivors of the quake, especially among the fishing community. There is a long and disturbing piece from the Sunday Telegraph about the post-earthquake situation in Burma. One fisherman is quoted as saying:

All the people were just swept away .... They were on foot, trying to cross over to the land side .... Look, there are bits of the bridge still floating in the water. That is all that is left.
And here is another fisherman:
Many, many homes were ripped away by the big wave .... The government is lying, lying very much, when it says just a few people were killed.
The Telegraph report suggests that
since the tsunami the military's grip on every facet of Burmese society has become even tighter. Here are the chilling words of a government official: "There is nothing to see. We are handling the situation in our own way".

(Via: Philip Stott)


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