For immediate release Contacts: Ashin Nyaka 347-665-5323
May 15, 2008 Ashin Candobhasacara 716-512-3801
BURMESE MONKS FAST IN ALARM AND GRIEF FOR CYCLONE VICTIMS
WHO ARE BEING STARVED THROUGH WILLFUL GOVERNMENT NEGLECT
Petition the United Nations to Take Action on Increasing Burmese crisis
When: Thursday, May 15th 3-6pm
Friday, May 16th, 9am-6pm
Where: Ralph Bunch Park 43rd St. and 1st Ave.
Visuals: 15 maroon robed Burmese monks and their supporters fasting, meditating and praying for Burma. Banners and signs.
What: 15 Burmese monks, members of the International Burmese Monks Organization, and their supporters will fast outside of the United Nations on May 15 -16th. Their goal is to persuade the United Nations to get unrestricted aid into Burma immediately. A number of the monks, relocated to the US from Burma after the monk-led protests last fall was brutally suppressed by the military junta, will be participating.
“We are not eating because our people are not eating. They are starving while the world waits and the Burmese generals steal the food aid. Maybe when the United Nations sees hungry people outside their doors, they will act more decisively,” said Ashin Nyaka, who is a visiting professor at Columbia University. The monk said they will not take food from Thursday morning until Saturday morning.
The monks petition the United Nations to take a more active, immediate role in getting supplies to cyclone victims before more die. They request the UN to act immediately to ensure that the victims are receiving the international aid that is amassed outside Burma’s borders. As one Burmese journalist inside Burma said, “One day’s delay can cause the loss of hundreds of lives.”
Twelve days after Cyclone Nargis hit the southern Burmese coast, Burma faces further crisis as the junta refuses to acknowledge the immensity of the disaster and the at least 2 million people who are on the brink of starvation and an epidemic of disease. The junta is refusing to give visas to many international aid workers and much of the donated food and supplies are not being delivered to victims. There are many accounts of the military siphoning off food to feed its soldiers, and supplies being sold on the black market.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon addressed the crisis this way on Monday, "We are at a critical point. Unless more aid gets into the country very quickly, we face an outbreak of infectious diseases that could dwarf today's current crisis.” Food aid delivered so far amounts to about one tenth of what is needed.
The monks delivered a letter to Mr. Ban asking him to go to Burma himself to assess the situation. They are also asking the UN Security Council to respond to this crisis with stronger diplomacy and even under the “responsibility to protect” of the UN charter.
International Burmese Monks Organization 84-32 Apt. #2A Grand Ave Elmhurst, NY 11373
Phone & Fax: (718) 426-3959 Email: email@example.com www.burmesemonks.org