I've stayed away from the situation in Burma following Cyclone Nargis with some deeply mixed feelings.
On the one hand, this is one of the worst natural disasters to hit anywhere in recent memory. Millions homeless, tens of thousands dead, an entire heavily-populated region under water - this is as bad as anything that's happened in Bangladesh or Timor or wherever you want to name, certainly the worst natural disaster since the tsunami.
On the other hand, it's so predictable. The fascist thugs who constitute the "government" of Burma are so vile, so completely unconcerned about the welfare of the people they profess to care for, all this is to them is another exercise in clamping down on information, lying to the press and the rest of the world, and an excuse to go shopping in the tons of relief goods stuck in Rangoon warehouses.
See, I've upset myself just writing that one paragraph. This is why I've stayed away from the story. It infuriates me, and there is NOTHING we in the West can do about it.
Amidst all the horror, death, disease, and utter destruction of the Irrawaddy Delta, Than Shwe and his fellow thugs pushed thru the referendum on the new constitution (you know, the one that took 14 years to write and pretty much guarantees military dominance, crushing of democracy, and repression of everyone not above the rank of captain into perpetuity) and got, shockingly 92% approval. Who, I wonder, were the 8% who voted against it? What a disgusting joke.
Maybe, just maybe, the unholy disaster in the south actually causes something to change. Maybe the government has shown it total disregard for the welfare of the people so blatantly and so repugnantly that the population comes to the conclusion (not wrongly, btw) they have nothing to lose in a widespread revolt. It could happen.
But I doubt it.