Nargis victims protest after being denied new housing

Mar 23, 2009 (DVB), Villagers in Rangoon division who lost their homes during cyclone Nargis protested outside a local Red Cross office last week after authorities excluded them from a list of people to receive new houses.

Authorities in Twan Tay township recently made an announcement to rebuild 400,000 kyat ($US400) worth of new houses for locals whose homes were destroyed by cyclone Nargis in May last year.

Last Friday, 22 villagers from nearby Zeephyugon and Aung Zedi villages came to Twan Tay to stage a protest in front of a local Red Cross office.

They said that the only names put on the list for new houses were of people with close ties to village authorities. The list was compiled on 14 March.

"Our village officials are only getting names of people who are friends with them and completely ignored us from the list despite seeing that we have been sitting on piles of rubbish where our homes used to be for almost nearly a year," said one protestor.

A 68 year-old woman from one of the villages said she was not scared of getting arrested for protesting, given that she was already very desperate for food and shelter.

"I'm too old for this hassle for living," she said. "I don't mind getting arrested as my life now isn't any better without food and a place to stay."

A National League for Democracy member in Twan Tay who assisted the protest said the protesters also handed a letter of complaint to officials at the Red Cross office.

He said that about 20 local NLD youths provided security for the villagers during the protest.

The protest stopped after about three hours when officials from the Myanmar Red Cross in Rangoon met with protest leaders to hear their demands.

Reporting by Nan Kham Kaew

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