IN OTHER WORDS

Double blow:

Cyclone Nargis has ca-used horrific suffering, and the military junta ruling Burma has only been compounding it. In the face of this humanitarian calamity, international aid organisations and governments must focus on saving lives. But from now on no government can have an excuse for overlooking the sheer destructiveness of Burma’s narco-trafficking generals — or for cooperating with them for commercial or strategic advantage. There were forecasts as early as Wednesday about the 150-mile-per-hour winds that tore through the Irrawaddy River delta Friday night and Saturday, but the military regime failed to issue timely warnings. In the crucial days following the disaster, when rapid delivery of disaster relief is needed for people who are without food, water, power, or shelter, the generals are thwarting aid shipments from the US and other nations critical of the junta. The generals also rejected assistance after the 2004 tsunami.

Even more revealing is the junta’s insistence on holding a rigged referendum Saturday on a sham constitution to institutionalise military rule. The generals’ two-week delay for balloting in flooded areas only highlights their contempt for democracy and the people of Burma. The ruin brought to Burma by Cyclone Nargis is multiplied by the political catastrophe wrought by

the junta. — The Boston Globe