Lawyer urges junta to visit remote cyclone victims

May 28, 2008 (DVB), Lawyer U Aye Myint, winner of the European Bar's Ludovic-Trarieux 2008 International Human Rights Prize, has urged junta leaders to find out the real situation of cyclone victims in remote villages.

Aye Myint called on the leaders of the military regime to visit rural areas to get a real understanding of the devastation caused by the cyclone.

"Instead of visiting cyclone survivors in urban areas, please go and see the situation in the villages where people are dying, starving and living in ravaged shacks!" he said.

"Saving the lives of those who are in desperate need is the best thing to do."

Aye Myint and a team went to villages in Bogalay, Irrawaddy division, on Sunday to distribute relief supplies to refugees.

Aye Myint told DVB that he saw dead bodies in a few villages and that monks and women in one village urgently needed clothing.

"I saw dead bodies in Day Koo, Thein Kone and Mainmahla Kyune villages," he said.

"In Day Koo, I didn't go into the village but I was informed that monks and women were using plastic sacks to cover the lower parts of their bodies. We are going there in the next couple of days to help them."

DVB has learned that there are some villages in Phyar Pone township where people have still not received any aid.

"They haven't received anything. International aid is still far away from them," said Aye Myint.

The situation in Dadaye township is similar, according to private donors who visited recently.

They said dead bodies had still not been collected and some survivors had not received effective aid.

Members of the Union Solidarity and Development Association, Swan Arr Shin and the Myanmar Women's Affairs Federation were reportedly posing as refugees in the area.

Local authorities have been accused of staging refugee camps and aid distribution for the benefit of government officials and foreign visitors, while genuine cyclone refugees are being forced to return to their devastated villages.

Reporting by Nay Say Phaw

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