Myanmar cyclone: The internet will shame Burma’s junta, says Gordon Brown

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Gordon Brown says that “people power” is helping to reveal the “true horrors” of the Burmese junta and to shame it into admitting more foreign aid.

Gordon Brown spoke at a conference organised by Google in Watford
Mr Brown was speaking at a conference organised by Google

The Prime Minister said that in the internet age a reclusive country like Burma, also known as Myanmar, can no longer remain hidden away from the world.

“Direct people power is going to be a force not just for individual countries but for foreign policy as well,” Mr Brown told a conference organised by Google in Watford.

He predicted that “whether it is famine, cyclone or whatever, pressure from the people is going to force government interaction.”

Mr Brown suggested that the genocide in Rwanda might not have been met with “such silence” if it had occurred in the internet age.

Anger at crises reported online could sometimes create a “coup de blogs” he said, forcing governments to take action.

The Burmese junta, which has declared three days of mourning for the cyclone’s victims, is notoriously unresponsive to pressure, whether from bloggers, foreign governments or its own people — the vast majority of whom have no access to the internet.

Inside Burma the older technology of short wave radio, which carries the BBC’s Burmese service, is the principal medium of impartial news.

But there are signs that the junta is adjusting its policy on foreign aid, whether in response to internet coverage or not.

Although foreign aid workers are still mostly barred from the country and the United Nations says only 30 per cent of the 2.5 million cyclone survivors have received any aid, the UN humanitarian chief John Holmes was allowed to visit the shattered Irrawaddy delta today, following a visit by the Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch-Brown.

At a meeting of south-east Asian foreign ministers in Singapore today, the junta agreed to allow medical teams from neighbouring countries in and to channel foreign aid through Asian governments. There will be a donor conference in Rangoon on Sunday.

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One Response to Myanmar cyclone: The internet will shame Burma’s junta, says Gordon Brown

  1. jackslade says:

    If you want some good web sites to learn more about the human rights violations in Burma you only need to visit and follow the links there. You will find reports that include pics and vids.

    Storm International Corp has a good amount of supplies that needs to be delivered to Burma via Thailand and NOT through the SPDC. If you feel inclined to make a contribution for delivery of these supplies you can donate right on their site. Thanks for looking them over. Sincerely Jack Slade

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