NY Burmese say junta limiting storm aid
The scene Tuesday in Yangon, Myanmar
Kyu Dawsan has known tragedy at the hands of Myanmars military junta.
Her father was tortured, and her nephew kidnapped.
Now, as the cyclone death toll surpasses 22,000 and continues to climb, Dawsan blames the junta for not doing more to stem losses.
Its not a government; its dictators only, said Dawsan, an activist with the National Burma Action Committee in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.
Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar also called Burma early Saturday, leaving low-lying villages underwater and devastating the countrys rice industry. Foreign assistance began to trickle in yesterday, but Burmese supporters in New York worried the ruling junta would limit aid.Theyve said, Give us the money and well distribute it, but theyre human rights abusers, said Maureen Aung-Thwin, director of the Burma Project with the Open Society Institute in Manhattan. They should just accept the aid. They can go back to being dictators later; they should save their people first.
President Bush yesterday announced the United States would send more than $3 million to help storm victims and pleaded with the military junta to allow disaster assessment teams into the country.
Bo Hla-Tint, an elected official with the exiled Burmese government, was angered the junta had not done so already.
Its a very outrageous that theyre not showing full cooperation with the U.S. and the South Asian community, he said, speaking from Washington, D.C. In our history of Burma, this is the very worst disaster situation.
The junta should have warned residents about the storm, Aung-Thwin said.
They have radios, they have state TV, they have other ways of reaching people, she said. They had plenty of time. That storm was brewing for weeks.
Most Burmese expatriates, most of whom live in the Sunnyside, Jackson Heights and Elmshurst neighborhoods in Queens, agreed the juntas preparation and response were simply not enough.
Of as yesterday, Dawsan, in Brooklyn, still had not been able to contact family members in Myanmar to confirm they were safe.
Im scared for my people, she said. Im scared for my country.
How to help
Donations can be made to the American Red Cross at (800) RED-CROSS and redcross.org.