Thursday, 22 May 2008

Cyclone victims take on junta authorities in Rangoon

By Zar Ni
Mizzima News

Palpable tension was in evidence after there was a brawl between cyclone victims and the police in Rangoon. Earlier, the victims stormed into the Ward Peace and Development Council (PDC) office when distribution of relief material was stopped and a young woman was assaulted.

Irate cyclone victims frustrated over the authority's refusal to distribute relief material donated by private donors in No. 72 Ward, South Dagon Township clashed with the police. The riot police was summoned.

"Police patrol cars and policemen equipped with shields arrived on the scene where chaos prevailed. The police dragged out some persons who were distributing the relief supplies to the victims from among the crowd," a local resident who did wish to be named said.

After the incident, the security forces cordoned off the entry points of South Dagon Township and it was reopened this evening.

The donors distributed 6 pyis of rice, one sarong, a piece of cloth and a blanket to each household. After distributing it in about 500 households, the donors left the remaining supplies in the hands of the local authorities for distribution. The local authorities closed their office door and stopped distribution, local residents said. (One pyi approximately equals two kilograms)

Trouble broke out after officials stopped distribution of the remaining relief materials.

"They closed the Ward Peace and Development Council (PDC) office. Then they announced that the distribution has been stopped. The women queuing up in front of the office were angry and asked why. Then a local official (chief of 100 households) asked the people if they were prepared to accept 6 tins (condensed milk tin) of rice (instead of 6 pyis)", a woman resident said.

"When the women replied 'yes', a woman called Ma Aye Mu from the 'Federation of Women's Affairs' ordered the women to come in. Following, which she beat up a girl, who first entered the office with a bamboo staff. The people were enraged when they saw the girl's hand had been broken. All the women present at the office stormed in and tried to kill the officials," she added.

Worried junta officials deployed more police personnel in the township.

The police source said that about 100 police personnel led by Deputy Chief of Karen State police force arrived in South Dagon Township at 10 a.m.

The police were deployed in groups of 10 to 12 personnel around the Township PDC office, Township Police Force and other key places in the township.

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