Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Burma's Cyclone

More than 20-thousand people are now known to have died in the cyclone which struck Burma. A further 40-thousand are missing. International aid agencies are doing what they can to assist rescue efforts, but the Burmese military government has been slow to let outsiders into the country.

There seems to be a lot of anger among Burmese people at what has gone on in the last few days. Not just the usual anger and frustration of victims of a natural disaster, although that's often a powerful thing. Rather there's anger at the military government's failure to warn anyone, other than regime officials, that the cyclone was on its way. The government had a good couple of days' notice the cyclone might well land a direct hit, but did nothing to avert this human disaster.

Burmese Buddhists may well be giving plenty of thought to the old legend that, when in times of bad leadership, an angry God sends famine, pestilence and storms as a way of showing displeasure. Just a few months on from the pro-democracy protests, which the regime sent in the army rather more quickly than they have done this week, surely many in the country will now have had enough of incompetent military rule. If and when the regime falls, this will surely prove to have been a pivotal moment.

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