Days before the voting took place for the referendum to Burma’s constitution; the country was devastated by Cyclone Nargis. Nargis had claimed the lives of between 60,000 to 100,000 people. However, the death toll by the Cyclone has been disputed. The junta says that the death toll is lower than 100,000. However, millions more are at risk of dying by waterborne diseases.
While the international community has stepped forward to offer international aid, the junta had seized it all. The people that are in need for the aid have not received any bit. As a result, Burma’s junta received backlash from the international community. However, Burma’s junta brushed off all accusations.
Also, Burma’s junta focused on voting for the referendum instead of the recovery process of the country. The junta was placed under more criticism. Most of the criticism comes at the junta’s defiance towards requests to allow international aid workers into the country.
On May 15, Burma’s constitution was announced to be “approved” by a “majority.” However, reports say that the junta resorted to fear and intimidation tactics. Many critics and human rights group have accused the junta of coercing them to vote for the referendum. Also, the ballot only had a “Yes” choice.
Other criticisms involve giving the people spoiled food. While millions need food, Burma continued its rice exports.
Many countries are considering using military force to gain entrance into Burma. Both House Democrats and Republicans have urged Bush to back the efforts by Europe and the rest of the international community. Also, the US House fears that China will oppose any move by the UN Security Council.
Nobel Peace laureate Former South African Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu wrote to US President Bush, French President Nicholas Sarkozy, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown saying that the actions of Burma’s junta is criminal.
It is unknown what action the US may take. There is a good chance that this will be a hot button topic in the general election race between presumed GOP nominee Senator John McCain of Arizona and the eventual Democratic nominee. Frontrunners Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and Senator Hillary Clinton of New York are still fighting for the Democratic nomination.
Also, this could be an issue that adds onto may that could cause a PR disaster for China as it hosts the 2008 Summer Olympics this August.