( – promoted by buhdydharma )
Yes, we are thrilled that our long and increasingly ugly primary process is drawing to a close, and that the prospect of a unified and strong Democratic party is increasingly possible and likely. We are thrilled to be on the verge of a major electoral victory in November.
But isn’t part of what defines us as Democrats and progressives, lefties of various stripes that we exit a narrow American exceptionalist view of world, that we understand all of our strengths and weaknesses in a global context?
There has been a major, major catastrophe in Burma. The blog of record of the so-called progressosphere has nary a mention of this on the
Obama rec list. In addition to the need to help through donations, there are major human rights and internationalist issues to address: the question of humanitarian intervention.
80,000 and more may have lost their lives. Millions are homeless. The repressive regime was given 48 hours warning of the devastating cyclone by the Indian government and seemingly did nothing to prepare or help the imminent victims. Even if junta wanted to help the people in advance, the infrastructure was likely not there. Now the repressive regime is hindering aid from coming in. From helping in this devastating situation:
May 7, 2008 (AFP)-Tens of thousands of shocked survivors of Burma’s cyclone are flocking to Labutta, trekking through floodwaters littered with bloated bodies, an AFP reporter said Wednesday.
The town of Labutta, the centre of a community of 90,000 people before Saturday’s disaster, is itself devastated, with virtually no food or fresh water, and residents are sharing meagre supplies of wild rice with the new arrivals.
Labutta, at the mouth of the Irrawaddy river delta which bore the brunt of Cyclone Nargis’s fury, was completely submerged as waters soared more than six metres (20 feet) high, covering even the tops of trees, residents told AFP.
“The people have no emotion left on their faces. They have never seen anything like this before,” one witness told AFP of the desperate survivors arriving here from surrounding villages that were totally wiped out.
“They have lost their families, they have nowhere to stay, and they have nothing to eat. They don’t know what the future will bring,” he said.
Around the town, blackened bodies of people and animals, already rotting in the intense tropical heat, washed up to roadsides as floodwaters receded.
“We are seeing at the United Nations if we can’t implement the responsibility to protect, given that food, boats and relief teams are there, and obtain a United Nations’ resolution which authorizes the delivery and imposes this on the Burmese government,” Mr. Kouchner, who founded the aid group Doctors Without Borders, told reporters in Paris.
In 2005, the United Nations recognized the concept of “responsibility to protect” civilians when their governments could or would not do it, even if this meant intervention that violated national sovereignty. But it has been rarely applied.
The concept of humanitarian intervention is complex. How do you “impose” aid–invade for relief? It is particularly upsetting that BushCo perverted the concept to justify the Iraq War–as if the war were a massive human rights intervention. Of course, the rightwing ideologues are against the responsibility to protect as it would represent an impingement on U.S. sovereignty, .
BushCo is promising aid to Myanmar, but asking that the junta grant permission to enter:
WASHINGTON (AP) – The White House said Tuesday the U.S. will send more than $3 million to help victims of the devastating cyclone in Myanmar, up from an initial emergency contribution of $250,000.
Earlier Tuesday, President Bush called on Myanmar’s military junta to allow the team in.
“The United States has made an initial aid contribution but we want to do a lot more,” Bush said in the Oval Office. “We’re prepared to move U.S. Navy assets to help find those who have lost their lives, to help find the missing, to help stabilize the situation. But in order to do so, the military junta must allow our disaster assessment teams into the country.”
Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said the U.S. military is ready to move Navy ships to Myanmar but will not do that until assistance is authorized. The Navy said it would take the ships about four days to make the trip.
The people of Burma need help now. The situation is dire. The dead are floating in rivers. There is a lack of clean water, food, shelter. Our hearts ached for the victims of the tsunami, and Katrina. We all helped. We need to help the Burmese people now. They have endured so much suffering.
We all feel helpless. How can we help?
- Keep the issue front and center. Call your congresscritters to urge help and call for focus on this catastrophe.
- Educate ourselves and spread the word about this disaster. Check out the Burma news ladder.
- Pressure the media to keep this disaster front and center? Why is it not one of the top news stories? Because there isn’t enough “good” footage?
- Here are excellent groups devoted to the liberation of Myanmar that have as up to date information as possible, and links to places to donate:
- Campaigning for Human Rights and Democracy in Burma
- Democratic Voice of Burma
- U.S. Campaign on Burma
- Read the metta suta, the heart sutra, which the monks of Burma, the brave souls of the Saffron revolution, intoned:
As a mother would risk her life
to protect her child, her only child,
even so should one cultivate a limitless heart
with regard to all beings.
With good will for the entire cosmos,
cultivate a limitless heart:
Above, below, & all around,
unobstructed, without enmity or hate.
Whether standing, walking,
sitting, or lying down,
as long as one is alert,
one should be resolved on this mindfulness.
This is called a sublime abiding
here & now.