Sunday, May 11, 2008

Burma exports rice as cyclone victims starve

The Independent: Burma is still exporting rice even as it tries to curb the influx of international donations of food bound for the starving survivors of the cyclone that killed up to 116,000 people....The Burmese regime, which has a monopoly on the country's rice exports, said it planned to meet all its contractual commitments.

With rice prices hitting a record high after more than doubling since January, the exports are a valuable source of foreign revenue for the junta and its allies. The fear is that with the rice-growing area in the Irrawaddy delta inundated with salt water from the huge tidal wave, Burma may need to import greater amounts of rice this year. Alarm at the prospect fuelled another spurt in rice prices during the week. The continuing rice sales looked like just another facet of the Burmese regime's insensitivity to the suffering of its own people as it continues to block international relief to cyclone victims and pressed ahead with the constitutional referendum yesterday. The Burmese leader, General Than Shwe, has urged people to vote 'yes' .

Shot of an archway in Rangoon by a US State Department employee, Wikimedia Commons

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