( – promoted by buhdydharma )
First, please take a moment to reflect on the cyclone in Burma, which the AP estimates has killed over 14,000 people. The military junta in Burma has been roundly criticized for failing to enact an early warning system that could have saved lives:
The government had apparently taken few efforts to prepare for the storm, which came bearing down on the country from the Bay of Bengal late Friday. Weather warnings broadcast on television would have been largely useless for the worst-hit rural areas where electricity supply is spotty and television a rarity.
“The government misled people,” said Thin Thin, a grocery story owner in Yangon. “They could have warned us about the severity of the coming cyclone so we could be better prepared.”
Some in Yangon complained that the 400,000-strong military was only clearing streets where the ruling elite resided but leaving residents, including Buddhist monks, to cope on their own in most other areas.
The AP reports that the UN and aid organizations are mobilizing supplies, and that the EU has committed $3 million in humanitarian aid, the Chinese government stands ready with $1 million in cash and supplies, and the US is giving an intial $250,000 in aid with more to come if a disaster team is allowed inside the country.
UPDATE The BBC is now reporting that the death toll has reached 22,000:
The death toll from Burma’s devastating cyclone has now risen to more than 22,000, state media say.
Some 41,000 people were also missing, three days after Cyclone Nargis hit the country on Saturday, state radio said.
Meanwhile, Chinese authorities met with the Dalai Lama this past weekend. More meetings have been promised, none have been scheduled and the conditions of the Chinese government for future talks are vague:
‘As long as the Dalai side shows sincerity, especially in its actions, then the contact will continue,’ Qin told reporters.
Qin did not explain what China wanted the Dalai Lama to do to show sincerity.
China’s President Hu Jintao is on a diplomatic visit to Japan, which prompted large but peaceful protests:
Elsewhere in Tokyo, nearly 1,000 demonstrators marched with Tibetan flags and signs reading, “Don’t kill our friends.”
Opposition lawmaker Yukio Edano told the rally that Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda should raise the Tibet issue forcefully with Hu.
“If Prime Minister Fukuda’s meeting with President Hu Jintao is a mere formality, that means that we are accomplices in China’s crimes in Tibet,” Edano said.
WaPo carries a feature about Woeser, a Tibetan blogger based in Beijing, who is one of the few Tibetan voices commenting on the riots. Her narrative on the riots in Lhasa is directly contradicting the one Chinese authorities have been pumping through their propaganda channels:
Though she lives in Beijing, Woeser still has contacts across the Tibetan plateau, and she has been using them to funnel information onto her blog since the deadly March 14 riots in the region’s capital, Lhasa. The government has said that the riots and the unrest that followed were caused by violent separatists. Woeser is constructing an alternative narrative — one of protest sparked by long-festering resentments against Chinese repression of Tibetan culture and the Buddhist religion.
Woeser’s site, http://woeser.middle-way.net , has recently been hacked, despite being hosted on US servers. Although she faces considerable intimidation, her dedication to writing is something she has in common with bloggers worldwide:
“My writing became very obvious,” she said. “My father always taught me that I have to listen to the Communist Party when it talks, and that when I write, I have to balance between what I feel and what the party says. But I’ve found that that’s impossible to do.”
“There are so many extreme nationalists who know so little about Tibet, who are so shallow about a lot of things,” she said. “I really resent it.”
When she’s inspired, she writes a little poetry. But mostly she is documenting as best she can the situation inside Tibet. According to her reporting, at least 150 Tibetans were killed in the Lhasa riot, not just the 22 mostly Han Chinese deaths the government has acknowledged.
“Sometimes I’m scared, especially when I hear my friends have been beaten up,” she said. “But I feel I have a responsibility to do this. Some things are really hard to know now, but if I know something, I will write it.”
Reuters is reporting that Zhang Ping, commentator and deputy chief editor of the Southern Metropolis Weekly magazine in China has been sacked:
Zhang declined to comment when reached by telephone. The source, requesting anonymity, confirmed the sacking but declined to provide further details.
Zhang’s articles were published mainly in his magazine’s sister newspaper, the Southern Metropolis Daily, and called on the government to allow more media freedom in covering the Tibet riots and to review its policy on Tibet.
The commentaries drew an angry backlash from a large number of Internet users, who accused Zhang of being a traitor and downplaying the violence by Tibetans as well as the perceived anti-China bias of Western media.
And there is still no new news regarding the whereabouts or status of writer Jamyang Kyi, who was escorted by police from her job on April 1.
Please keep all sides of this conflict in your thoughts, prayers and meditations, especially the people of Myanmar who – as you read this – are facing a horrendous tragedy.