Tag Archives: Mandalay

Corpse robbers and angry villagers

(Latest roundup of some news on Cyclone Nargis in Burmese language media)

There have been a few reports about corpses of cyclone victims found with ears and fingers cut off, apparently to take the jewelry. Now the Yoma 3 News Service has alleged that soldiers of Infantry Division 66 are among those responsible. According to an eyewitness from Bogalay who spoke by phone,

“Division 66 officers and soldiers are removing everything from the bodies of the dead. If wearing bracelets, they’re cutting off the hands.”

The witness also accused the troops of refusing to allow relatives of victims from Kyachaung, Satkyun, Ayardan and Padekaw villages from meeting with their loved ones, and said that as they had sold drinking water that was sent for the survivors in those places from a betel nut shop at the Irrawaddy Pier for 500 Kyat (about 45 US cents) per bottle, so the survivors have been drinking any water that they could find.

Meanwhile, the efforts of private citizens have continued to keep people alive where officialdom has been busy apparently trying to do the opposite. According to a doctor who visited Twente who also spoke to Yoma 3,

“The villages that we reached don’t even have food. They’ve made huts to stay in out of old thatch. It’s an unhappy scene. Even in the places so near to Rangoon sufficient aid has still not arrived. They’re all expecting it. Nobody had come. As there’s water in the hand pump wells that’s not such a worry but there’s quite a rice problem.”

In Twente section 8 bore the brunt of the storm and was destroyed, while about 90 per of the buildings in the township suffered damage. At present there are five temporary sites set up to house people at monasteries and schools. Zinc roofing is being sold for 4900 Kyat (about US$4) per sheet, not given out.

Around Twente town there are 95 village tracts all of which have suffered damage and are in need of help, the doctor said. At Panhlaing the sluice gates are shut and there is an outbreak of disease. In some villages monasteries are housing and feeding people but have enough food supplies for only three or four days.

Similar conditions are reported in Htanmanaing, of Kawhmu Township, Rangoon, which was hit hard by the storm too. Of the 540 houses there before, only ten are still intact. However, as the water supply there also was destroyed, children are drinking from dirty water sources and getting stomach ailments. There are no medicines for them when they become sick, a resident said to Yoma 3. As the people there too had received no help so far, a villager had husked the remainder of his paddy stock (being kept for planting next season) and distributed it to the hungry. Continue reading

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Citizens helping, officials hindering

(Latest roundup of some Burmese language reports following Cyclone Nargis

As the military regime in Burma continues to obstruct relief efforts from abroad, and especially hamper foreign staff of aid groups (see the latest news about this on The Irrawaddy) most of the news in Burmese language reports has been about the efforts of fellow citizens to help the victims of the disaster, the obstacles that government officials are also putting in their paths, and the lack of help getting through to some areas.

According to Yoma 3 News, monks in Mandalay who have been collecting items and money to donate to victims have been asked by the authorities there to donate through official channels, but have refused. A monk told Yoma 3 that

“We are collecting things at the Mandalay Maha Gandharyone Monastery. About four days back the divisional head came to the monastery and said to give them the things; that they would be delivered through them. The Gandharyone temple didn’t accept this.”

The items collected at the temple include clothes, clean water and rice. One lot of items had already been sent successfully and the temple is now preparing for a second round.

The efforts of Kyaw Thu’s social welfare group and comedian Zarganar together with some prominent actors and others have also been reported on.

However, there are still seriously affected areas where no aid has been received eleven days after the cyclone. According to the New Era Journal, in Kunchangone, which is only some 30 miles from Rangoon, virtually no help has arrived and there is now an outbreak of cholera.

An eyewitness from a group of private citizens who went to the riverside area about three miles from the town, including villages Kyunchaung, Kayan, Tawkyi, Tawkayan and Thonehkwa, told the journal that

“It’s totally demolished. Nothing can be done with the houses that are lying flattened on the ground. People are sitting around nearby looking. Nothing has arrived yet for rebuilding the rooves. No food or medicine has arrived yet. The corpses are just lined up along a steep hillside. Dead people, dead cows, dead buffaloes, none of the dead can be cleared away. There’s quite a stink. Up to yesterday there were clearly yet more washed up further along the riverbank.” Continue reading

Eyewitness account of cyclone and after

There are many news reports on the scale of damage and deaths left in Cyclone Nargis’ wake now available in English, and persons interested to get detailed information on the response should especially follow the updates on Relief Web.

According to a government broadcast that Reuters monitored from Bangkok, the official figures as of Tuesday, May 6, stand at:

Irrawaddy Division: Nearly 15,000 dead, 3,000 missing; comprising 1,835 dead, 2,187 missing on Mawlamyaing Island; 975 dead on Heingyi Island; 253 dead, 10 missing on Khetta Island; 789 dead, 172 missing in Dedaye Township; over 1000 dead in Laputta Township; and about 10,000 dead in Bogalay Township. The damage in the delta seems to have been especially severe due to a surge in the sea level at the time of the storm.

Yangon Division: 59 dead, over 500 missing; comprising of 19 dead, 4 missing in Yangon and 40 dead, about 500 missing in Kunchankone. Presumably these figures do not include the prisoners allegedly shot dead at Insein Prison.

At time of writing the government website news had not been updated since May 2.

In the next few days, Rule of Lords will post news from Burmese sources that may be getting partly covered or not covered in the mainstream English media.

Eyewitness account from Laputta

Nearly the entire town of Laputta, which has about 50,000 people living in it, was flattened in the storm, according to one eyewitness. Still, because surrounding villages have been completely obliterated, the villagers have also been pouring into the wrecked town and tens of thousands are estimated to be affected.

“Some were killed by flying trees, some from exposure to the cold, some died when they had gathered to shelter from the storms in monasteries and they collapsed,” the eyewitness said. Continue reading

Going blind, in jail

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U Than Lwin, a 70-year-old being held without charge at Ohbo Prison in upper Burma, is going blind because the country’s vindictive authorities have denied him medical treatment for injuries to his eyes caused by a government thug’s assault last year. Continue reading

Teaching grandma how to peel onions

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The lead article in last Sunday’s South China Morning Post breathlessly reported that some of those involved in recent protests throughout Burma had received training from the National Endowment for Democracy, a group funded by the United States government. Its editorial tut-tutted that Americans are yet again meddling where they shouldn’t be.

In a letter to the editor, Basil Fernando, director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, observed that hundreds of groups from around the world have been working openly along the Thai-Burma border for some two decades now, many engaged in this sort of training, which he likened to teaching grandma how to peel onions.

Anyone presuming to instruct people from Burma on how to defy military dictatorship, or planning to write about others doing so, should first take the time to learn a little history. Resistance to coercive rulers there goes back a long way.

Continue reading