Thursday, May 22, 2008

Burma’s junta criticized in Friends of Burma Festival

On 20 May, at 15:00 to 22:00, thousands of people from different organizations, collectively calling themselves as "Friends of Burma" celebrated a fund raising festival for victims of Cyclone Nargis in Burma and talked about the future of those, at the Convention Center, Chiangmai University, Chiangmai, northern Thailand.

By Hseng Khio Fah

Win Min, Chiangmai based Burmese scholar, said, "The junta ignored the cyclone warning from the neighboring countries. Right now, over 2 million people were killed and over 200,000 people were homeless. They did not care about the people, they just care for power. For instance, during the Tsunami in Indonesia, Jarkarta allowed everyone to come without visa. Had they followed the Indonesian lead, people would not have died as many."
"They don’t' have enough capacity and equipment. That's why it was so difficult for them to handle it smoothly. They thought that they could handle everything. Right now, it has become the most serious catastrophe in our history."

"In contrast, when the Thai people faced Tsunami, they had temporary shelters to stay, they received preliminary aid from everywhere. But it was so difficult for people in Burma to receive aid," said Dr. Chayan Watthanphuti.

"Some people from my village say living in a Thai jail is better than living in our home town. I am sure that people from Burma may come to Thai as migrants. There is no food to eat, no space to stay and cultivate in Burma. How can they live? They just have to seek asylum to its neighboring countries, especially Thailand," said a woman from Shan State.

"On behalf of our people in Burma, I would like to ask all Thai people and all of my friends to have understanding on our people," she concluded.

Friends of Burma Festival was organized by civil society groups in Chiangmai, Regional Center for Sustainable Development (RCSD), artist friends in Chiangmai, Non Government Organization Coordination Committee for Development in northern Thailand, Northern Youth Development Workers Network, Kabfai Community Theater Group and friends from different organizations that are working on Burma issues in Chiangmai.

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