Monday, May 12, 2008

May 17 Global Day of Action for Burma: Calling for a Critical Response to Burma's Humanitarian Disaster

May 17 Global Day of Action for Burma: Calling for a Critical Response to Burma's Humanitarian Disaster

On Saturday, May 17, 2008, a Global Day of Action for a critical response to the Burmese humanitarian disaster will take place in cities around the world. Demonstrations and vigils will be held to urge world governments and the United Nations to take action now and save countless lives at this crucial time for the people affected by Cyclone Nargis. Details of the times and locations of all Global Day of Action events around the world can be found at http://www.burma-network.org as soon as they become available.



Despite the devastation and deaths wrought by the cyclone in the immediate aftermath of its landfall, the humanitarian tragedy playing out in Burma may only be beginning. Burma's military regime has blocked the international aid effort to such an extent that 1.5 million people are at risk of dying from starvation, dehydration and communicable diseases. The scale of the desolation is incomprehensibly huge: thousands of homes have been destroyed, Burma's rice-growing heartland has been rendered fallow due to flooding, and tens of thousands are already dead. It is, without a doubt, the worst natural disaster to strike Asia - perhaps the world - since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.



Burma's rulers have turned a wholly humanitarian concern into a political issue, neglecting the very real needs of their citizens to meet their own political ends. Disaster relief specialists are waiting for access to the country, and thousands of tons of aid are ready to be distributed. It is only due to the government's obstruction that a comprehensive relief effort is not currently underway. Burmese state television shows images of generals handing out packets of aid to cyclone victims and promoting the May 10 referendum, while denying the gravity of the situation in cyclone-affected areas and the thousands of remote villages that are still without food, potable water, shelter or medical help.


The international community must step up and take decisive action to save millions of lives that are currently hanging in the balance, with or without the consent of the Burmese military regime. It has been a positive step that the international community has discussed the option of critical intervention, however this is not enough. Decisive action needs to be taken. Governments around the world need to make the vital decision to save millions of lives, by whatever means possible. As well, it is imperative for the friends of Burma's military regime in the international community to initiate dialogue pressuring the junta to open the country's borders for an international relief effort to get underway. The clock is ticking. Over a million lives are at stake. The international community needs to act – now.

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For more information, please contact:
Alex Bookbinder
Burma Global Action Network
alex.bookbinder@gmail.com
+(1) 778 847 5104
http://www.burma-network.org

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