While there are millions of people that have been left homeless and prone to waterborne diseases and illnesses, Burma’s government continues to export its rice. At the same time, there are millions that have waited for the necessary food aid to arrive. The UN World Food Program has recently blasted Burma’s junta for seizing the shipment of food aid as it has arrived in the country.
Burma’s junta has also been criticized for rejecting assistance from the United States. Recently, the US has been given permission to do one food drop over Burma.
This does come off as a display of insensitivity from the government to its people. Late last year, Burma’s junta had cracked down on pro-Democracy protests that were led by Buddhist monks. It does mirror China cracking down on pro-Democratic protests led by Buddhist monks in Tibet.
Also, China is an ally of Burma. Like China, the media in Burma is controlled by the state.
In the case of Burma and rice crops, while there are millions possibly starving to death, rice continues to be exported. Burma’s junta which monopolizes the rice explains that it is simply meeting commitments to the contracts. At the same time, Burma’s junta has denied access to the international relief agencies.
In what can be displayed as another act of insensitivity would be the junta pushing with the vote for the referendum of the constitution. While the event of Cyclone Nargis overshadows the vote, Burma’s junta is continuing on with it anyway.
Many have criticized that the constitution is an excuse to allow the junta to forever play a role in Burma’s government. Recently, the leader of the junta, General Than Shwe urged a “Yes” vote.
The “No” vote is absent in the ballot. One could opt out of voting for the referendum. Use of fear and intimidation tactics on behalf of the junta gives the indication that voting is not optional.
Both soldiers and civil servants have been ordered to vote for the charter. Officers and officials will be dismissed if a majority vote is not cast in the areas in their control.
Students have been threatened with expulsion. Farmers were threatened with the possibility of having their land taken away by the government. Foreign monitors have been banned from participating.
Asides from the military retaining control of the government, it prevents any Burmese citizen that marries a foreigner from ever running for public office in the country. Many have viewed it as a move to prevent Aung San Suu Kyi from ever taking power. Suu Kyi is married to Michael Aris, a Cambridge lecturer.
Suu Kyi is a Nobel peace laureate. She is supposed to be the rightful leader of Burma as she and her National League for Democracy Party won the 1990 elections. However, the junta refused to acknowledge the results and placed Suu Kyi under house arrest for 12 years.
In the case of the ballot, the UN had asked for all fundamental political freedoms to be respected. However, China said that the referendum for each country is not up to decision by the UN.
Many critics say that the voting should be postponed. However, the junta is not listening. After eight days, many are still waiting aid. Burma’s junta continues to export rice. The victims were only given rice that has gone bad.
Such actions only continue to make Burma’s junta look even worse. This could also loom over China as another issue that could brew as a potential PR nightmare as it is set to host the Summer Olympics this August.