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  • » 05/16/2008, 00.00


    The Burmese junta forces the displaced to return to their destroyed homes

    In the municipality of Yangon, the regime orders the clearing of monasteries and schools where the survivors of cyclone Nargis had taken shelter, because on May 24 they must go to the polls to vote on the referendum. But their vote will not change the predetermined result.

    Yangon (AsiaNews) - The Burmese junta is not only denying food and water to the survivors of cyclone Nargis, but also a roof above their heads.  All in the name of the constitutional referendum that in the hardest hit areas of the country was postponed until next week.  Meanwhile, the official count of the victims remains at 38,491, while the figures of the Red Cross register 127,990 dead and 2.5 million people in need of aid.

    According to the newspaper The Irrawaddy, in the district of South Dagon, Yangon, the authorities have ordered about 2,000 displaced who had taken shelter in monasteries, religious buildings, and schools to return to their own houses.  Or better, to what remains of their houses.  They must clear out by May 20, and those who do not obey will have to provide an explanation to the interior ministry.  In seven of the districts of Yangon, and in 40 of the Irrawaddy delta, the vote on the constitution of the generals will be held on May 24.  The regime, naturally, wants "heavy traffic at the polls" to legitimise what is in fact a manipulated vote.  This is why the people have to return to their homes, even if there is nothing left for them there and even if their decision will have no effect on the results already decided by the junta: the national vote held on May 10 has already given the constitution 92.4 percent of the ballots.

    Meanwhile, in Laputta, the city most devastated by the cyclone, the authorities have sealed all points of access by land and water.  Sources of the National League for Democracy (LND), the opposition party, report that anyone who wants to give even a bowl of rice must have the permission of the military.  Those who try to circumvent the controls are arrested and interrogated.  Yesterday in Yangon, Khin Win Kyi, a member of the LND, was arrested solely for having tried to meet with foreign diplomats and UN representatives to tell them about the sufferings of the population and to seek help.

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    See also

    26/05/2008 MYANMAR
    Archbishop of Yangon: Emergency continues, let in foreign aid
    Archbishop Bo comments on the junta's promises to open up to foreign aid workers, and gives an update of the status of operations undertaken by the Church. But the junta is imposing conditions: "permission only for those who will work for reconstruction, and without political purposes". At the conference in Yangon, donor countries pledge 100 million dollars, and ask for transparency.

    15/05/2008 MYANMAR
    The military "wins" the sham referendum on the constitution
    The state media announce today a 92.4 percent vote for the "yes" on the new charter pushed through by the generals with every sort of violence and intimidation against the electorate. In the areas struck by the cyclone, voting will be conducted on May 24, while in the refugee camps the devastation continues among the survivors. The UN announces the departure of an envoy to Myanmar.

    08/05/2008 MYANMAR
    Nargis: more than 100,000 dead, the PIME joins aid efforts
    The Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions launches a campaign to collect funds for the emergency in the south of the country. The number of victims continues to rise, together with the alarm over sanitary conditions, but the junta says the situation is "returning to normal". Tonnes of food aid from the UN are at the border, waiting for permission to enter from the military regime. The people are beginning to sell family heirlooms on the black market in order to eat.

    07/05/2008 MYANMAR
    Alarm of disease and hunger for the survivors of Nargis
    According to Save the Children, "millions" are homeless, while the decomposing bodies increase the risk of serious disease. Many areas are still isolated and lack food and water. The rice paddies of the Irrawaddy have been damaged, and food prices are sky high; three days from the constitutional referendum, the frustration of the population could reignite protests against the regime.

    06/05/2008 MYANMAR
    Death toll from cyclone Nargis rises to 22,000
    Military government announces humanitarian agencies must negotiate with regime their entry into Myanmar. Burmese remain sceptical about the regime’s real openness. Four days since the disaster United Nations officials still waiting for entry visas.

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