Rangoon resident claims military selling aid supplies

May 17, 2008 (DVB), Despite the Burmese regime's announcement that anyone stealing or hoarding aid supplies will face legal actions, reports continue to circulate of aid appropriation and re-selling by military officials.

The government's National Disaster Preparedness Central Committee declared in the state media that offenders would face punitive action if aid was "kept for self-interest, traded, used for particular persons and organisations, or misappropriated for other purposes".

The United Nations has said that international monitoring of markets and traders has not produced any evidence of aid being systematically sold, but locals continue to report individual cases of official exploitation of relief supplies.

A Rangoon resident claimed yesterday that military officials had been selling rice and oil during the night.

"They are selling bags of rice donated from abroad. The army delivers them during the night in their cars," the resident said.

"You can see Two Prawns brand oil donated by Thailand being sold on the streets in various types of bottles and boxes and measures, and you can get as much as you like," he said.

"When I asked the sellers about it, they told me that they were sold by people in army trucks at night."

He also said tarpaulins were being sold at Yuzana Plaza, Mingaladon Market, Theingyi Market and Nyaungpinlay Market Plaza for 7000 kyat a roll.

The resident said that local security forces were aware of the army's activities but were afraid to take any action against them.

"As it is done by the army, the police dare not do anything. The police in Kyauktan are feeling resentful," he said.

The army also reportedly confiscated mobile phones donated by the Thai prime minister during his recent visit to the country, and took all the laptop computers donated by the Chinese government, a government communications staff member told DVB.

"The Thai prime minister Samak [Sundaravej] came to give us 50 satellite phones and 30 were confiscated by the army. That is official," he said.

"And [the military] came and took away 10 laptops given by China yesterday. These are the exact numbers."

Reporting by Naw Say Paw

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