Burma: Junta may politicize relief distribution

Activists warn ASEAN, Aid workers:
BE WATCHFUL! THE JUNTA MAY POLITICIZE RELIEF DISTRIBUTION

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After their rally yesterday in front of the Myanmar (Burma) Embassy, activists under Free Burma Coalition-Philippines today held another rally outside the Thai Royal Embassy in Makati City and urged Thailand government, the next Chair of the ASEAN to also echo the demand for the immediate postponement of National Referendum in Burma. FBC-Phils is urging the ASEAN to likewise help in monitoring safe delivery of goods and services in disaster struck areas of the said cyclone-devastated country.

Holding banners with slogans “DO NOT POLITICIZE RELIEF DISTRIBUTION!”, said rally was attended by women activists from Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific, Partido ng Manggagawa and the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID).

FBC-Phils said that the junta should postpone the National Referendum set on May 10 not just on cyclone affected areas. The military regime of Burma already made an official announcement that it would postpone the referendum but only on affected areas of Burma.

The group reiterated that it is “improper and untimely” to pursue the referendum considering that the entire country is in distress. “Relief before Referendum is the main call of the FBC-Phils.

Egoy Bans, the FBC-Phils spokesperson said, “After ensuring safe delivery of food, medicine, water and other forms of assistance to the victims, Burma should still undergo a period of rehabilitation. The people especially women and children, the most vulnerable and marginalized in times of disaster, were traumatized by the effects of the cyclone. Right now, the people are more concerned on their own survival than voting on May 10.”

While it has been reported that ASEAN is also ready to send emergency aid, FBC-Phils stressed that the role of the regional grouping should not end in sending aid to Burma. The ASEAN should monitor delivery of goods to the victims and it is just timely for the ASEAN to convince Burma to postpone the planned referendum nationwide, the group added.

DEPOLITICIZE RELIEF DISTRIBUTION!

The group however warned that the military regime may politicize aid distribution and the junta may use this to further their own agenda on May 10.

Bans explained, “We are in a situation where the junta is hell-bent to pursue the referendum and the people right now are desperate to survive. To be blunt about it, everybody including the ASEAN and aid workers should be watchful for the “goods” not to be bartered for a “YES” vote on May 10″.

THERE HAVE BEEN SIGNS!

“We are just worried because there have been signs. First, the UN and other agencies are complaining about restrictions in mobility of aid workers, and some cannot assess the victims’ needs because of tight control in communications.” explained the FBC-Phils spokesperson.

The group said that knowing the junta that is fond of dirty tricks, it can do everything even playing on the emotions of its own people.

Free Burma Coalition-Philippines
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific
Bagong Kamalayan
Partido ng Manggagawa
Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)

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