June 2008 | By Gayle Allard, Professor of Economic Environment at IE Business School
Cyclone Nargis has once again placed the spotlight on the brutal repression taking place in Burma. Will the world forget as quickly this time as it did after the â??Saffron revolutionâ??
Myanmar disappeared from the news headlines and our collective consciousness months ago after the brutal repression of the “saffron revolution”, a peaceful protest led by Buddhist monks to demand the end of a repressive government. On that occasion, we forgot to ask how many hundreds of unarmed demonstrators had died and when a new democratic government would arrive. Sadly, the catastrophe of the Narcis cyclone has once again put the Asian country, one of the poorest and most repressed in the region, on the front pages of all international media.
On its way through Myanmar (Burma for the countryÂ´s democrats), the cyclone has destroyed everything in its path. The houses built with cardboard walls and earth floors did not need much and the cyclone has flattened entire villages without leaving one single building standing. The almost inexistent transport network has isolated hundreds of thousands of victims. An independent international sources set the number of deaths at 100,000, with at least another one million victims left homeless. Witnesses say that endless numbers of corpses float down the rivers and that it is impossible to walk through the rice fields without stumbling over them. Food is expensive and scarce and does not reach survivors. Furthermore, there is no electricity or drinking water in the most heavily affected areas. With the passing of time, the threat of contagious diseases such as cholera and dengue fever is imminent while the dead bodies of people and animals rot in the streets.Details