Cyclone refugees in Bogalay forced to relocate

May 13, 2008 (DVB), Thousands of people seeking refuge in Bogalay after the recent cyclone have reportedly been relocated to Ma-Upin against their wishes, according to local rights activists.

According to a human rights activist in Bogalay, township Union Solidarity and Development Association secretary Ko Myo Win threatened cyclone victims with beatings by if they refused to go to designated places.

The activist estimated that more than 50,000 people had been relocated to Ma-Upin by car and boat, but said they did not want to go to there.

"They have already escaped from disaster and death and if they have to die, they want to die in their own village or town," she said.

"They don't want any more trouble and so they cling to Bogalay town. As it is their own town or village, they will be able to beg easily."

She said people had nowhere to stay, very little food and were being harassed by the authorities.

"People are eating rice that pigs would not eat and sleeping on the pavement in the rain with no blanket or spare clothes," she said.

"The chairman of the township authorities told people in the refugee camps not to accept our group and to 'take action' against us."

Another activist said some refugees had tried to avoid being sent to Ma-Upin.

"When they relocated the refugees to Ma-Upin, it didn't work out and some returned. Some didn't want to leave the camps and went into hiding under people's homes," he said.

"Some returned to their homes as they didn't want to go to Ma-Upin. But they returned soon afterwards as their villages had disappeared."

The activist said the international community should bypass the government in getting aid to the people of Burma.

"Whatever you say, you can penetrate into the country and help the people. It is enshrined in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights that everyone has the right to life," he said.

"Aid materials are not arriving effectively to the people who need them. People are still holding out hope of receiving international help."

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