Sunday, June 8, 2008

Genocide in the Irrawaddy Delta?

When asked whether the Myanmar government’s actions were antamount to genocide, Mr. Gates stopped short of that accusation. The way I would describe it, I guess, is criminal neglect,” he said.
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates probably should not have "stopped short of that accusation." I found a 1993 account* of the cyclone ravaged Irrawaddy Delta region that ought to cast light on the regime´s non-response to the recent disaster:
Southwest of Rangoon lies the Irrawaddy Delta, perhaps Burma's most fertile and productive rice-producing region. It is large, flat and well-irrigated, and its population is about 50% Karen and 50% Burman. Karen resistance forces operated there in the early days of the Revolution, but there have been no Karen forces there since the 1960's. . .

The SLORC's horrific abuses in the Delta have been worse than in any other part of Burma, because they know they can get away with it; the Delta does not border on any other country, so there is nowhere for refugees to flee, it is almost impossible to get information out, and no foreigners of any description are ever allowed to enter the Delta.
Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. Consider the ethnic composition of the cyclone affected region and the regime´s brutal treatment of Karen inhabitants in the past. These facts give substance to the accusation that the delay of aid, the obstruction of international relief, and forced relocation of cyclone victims by the military junta amount to a policy of genocide.
* An Independent Report by the Karen Human Rights Group December 6, 1993

Also see the next Jotman post in which a German journalist provides Jotman with new evidence that the Irrawaddy Delta is a vast crime scene.


  1. ...apparently all or almost all of the land ownership deeds and records for the Irrawaddy Delta were destroyed or washed away by the floods, leaving the present occupants and owners of leaseholds and land in the Delta fearful of a move by the Generals and their wealthy Chinese cohorts in Yangoon to "rationalize" and "consolidate" agricultural land in the Delta, ie., to confiscate much of the land and turn the present surviving inhabitants into either landless peasant labor or economic exiles to low-end factory work in other parts of Burma or, better yet, Thailand, as well as Thai fishing boat workers and, for the disenfranchised females, "service" workers in Thai KTV's, massage centers, etc.

    At least in those position, the surviving Delta inhabitants will send hard currency back to Burma without any expense to the Burma government (ie., a net gain to the Generals) and no longer be a population center that is historically hostile to the central government.

    Perhaps this underlying motivation would explain the total disregard shown to the surviving population by the Generals. Perhaps, in their view, the smaller the post-cyclone population base, the better.........

  2. Chris,

    Interesting analysis. Recent actions of the junta betray a broader strategic objective. The Irrawaddy Delta increasingly resembles not so much a disaster area as a vast crime scene.


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