Today's Sydney Morning Herald reports has the story of the Burmese military stopping locals from helping those suffering from the cyclone's devastation. How bizarre can things get in that suffering country?
Army stops locals trying to give aid
MA NGAY GYI, BURMA: When one of Burma's best-known movie stars, KyawThu, travelled through the Irrawaddy Delta in recent days to deliver aid to the victims of the May 3 cyclone, a military patrol stopped him as he was handing out bags of rice.SMH 13 May 2008
"The officer told him, 'You cannot give directly to the people,"' said Tin Win, the village headman of the stricken city of Dedaye, who had been counting on the rice to feed 260 refugees who sleep in a large Buddhist prayer hall.
The politics of food aid - deciding who gets to deliver assistance to the homeless and hungry - is not just confined to the dispute between Burma's military junta and Western governments and outside relief agencies.
Even Burmese citizens who want to donate rice or other assistance have in several cases been told that all aid must be channelled through the military. This restriction has angered local officials such as Tin Win who are trying to help rebuild the lives of villagers. He twitched with rage as he described the rice the military gave him.
"They gave us four bags," he said. "The rice is rotten - even the pigs and dogs wouldn't eat it."
He said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees had delivered good rice to the local military leaders last week but they kept it for themselves and distributed the waterlogged, musty rice. ...