Myanmar: Citizen videos in Cyclone Nargis’ aftermath

On May 2nd, 2008, Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar (Burma), generating massive damage and tens of thousands dead or missing. The situation would be considered critical for any country. However, the military government or “junta” has restricted the entrance of aid by requiring all donations to pass through them. The junta has also set up guidelines for journalists on how to report on the cyclone, restricting their communications, particularly on showing dead bodies or reporting about insufficient aid for victims, according to Burma News, a local online news source.

In spite of these restrictions on people carrying cameras and taking pictures, some have gone out to record the extent of the damages. There is anger over the failure of authorities to evacuate the affected villages, even when they were allegedly aware of the impending cyclone and the possible devastation it could cause. The following images, uploaded by YouTube user aungsayapyi may affect sensitive people: they are very graphic, include dead bodies and should be viewed with discretion and an adult's consent:

YouTube user AfterNargisYgn has been uploading a multi-part series of videos featuring images of the effects of the Cyclone in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, previously known as Rangoon. People removing downed trees, wading through waters and drying up their mattresses, clothing and in general trying to clean up and move on.

YouTube user Burma4u uploaded a video of the aftermath in Latbutta, with Cyclone Nargis’ victims crowded in refugee shelters, trying to sleep as they mull over what will happen to them in the near and far future.

An insightful video about the Burmese people's future has come from myochitmyanmar, another YouTube user who has uploaded a video with some English subtitles, interviewing Laputta survivors and refugees on their current situation: at the refugee camps, on the streets: rice donations and clothing hand-outs for children, private initiatives done without the State Peace and Development Council who governs them. Meanwhile, a picture on Burma News shows what looks like Red Cross aid, which is supposed to be for Cyclone refugees, being sold on the streets.

The following video, also from aungsayapyi shows how people are experiencing life in the refugee camps with donations from private donations, and a Military General's arrival, carrying promises instead of clothing, food or water. They proceed to tell refugees that the people who died, died because of bad karma, and that they should consider themselves lucky to be alive. They give some recommendations about grouping themselves according to villages and then leave. It has been subtitled in English for a better understanding of the events:

In the YouTube Blog they've also highlighted the video community's efforts to help Myanmar and provide aid, and they highlight both news networks and private initiatives who are documenting the cyclone and letting the world know what is going on in this small Southeast Asian country. For example, Nightwatcher1982 of the Netherlands has promised that for every video response to his video he gets, he will donate $5 to the Red Cross, and if it's a good video, he'll donate $10:

Global Voices Online has been providing extensive coverage of the disaster, aggregating information from different citizen media sources in the region on what is happening with food aid, water and the refugee situation as death tolls continue to rise. Please don't hesitate to go over to our Special Myanmar Cyclone Coverage page and read the posts that the amazing team of volunteer authors have been writing with translations from Burmese blogs telling first hand accounts of life in Myanmar right now. You can also follow our Myanmar feed on twitter.

There will also be a global blog action day on behalf of the Burmese victims on May 17th, when people are asked to tell others about the crisis in Myanmar, and some are already organizing fundraisers and events.


  • Ivan

    Did Burma look like these pictures after the junta refused aid following the Boxing Day tsunami? Perhaps that’s when they learned that monsoon rains would wash the salt from the rice paddies and all the bodies out to sea.

    No problems. No aid needed.

  • Aaron

    There is no way salt water will wash away from the field that easily. Even though if this happen how are they going to grow rice again, if they don’t have cow & seed. And just like to let everyone know that one of the place we are helping has 2000 over people and there is no government official and Aid.
    Where are the junta’s soldiers when we need them? We have more than 500000 personal and only see few of them helping. And they must not forget that we people of myanmar are the one who given salary to them. They are in our debts. Also I would like to warn UN that you are about to fail 2nd time if you don’t act fast. Which is important junta or 2million dying people of myanmar.

    Aid now.

  • Myo

    I do agree with Aaron!!!
    We need Aids and outside helps,a lot.
    Myanmar gunta do not concern about victims at all.
    They(Junta) only concern to grip to rule the nation eventhough the entire nation do not want them to rule the country anylonger.
    Many of Cyclone victims are still waiting for foods,shelter and drinking water,etc.
    Myanmar Army still keep all the Aids in warehouse instead of distributing to all those needies.
    I would like to request to UN and other powerfull Nations like US, UK and French to invade Myanmar to save poor Myanmar cyclone Victims any further delay.
    Myanmar people are looking forward to seeing UN,US,UK and French Army everyday.
    We need your kindly help,Wrolds!

  • Eamon

    Aid now.

    the junta should distribute the aid to the victims. they are not suffering at all. the junta should let other countries in to Myanmar to give aid. I think the UN should invade Myanmar, so people do not have to suffer.

  • phillip coburn

    i just told my son that i have no idea why the world works this way.

    i contacted a good friend friday after our family decided to donate money to help but i was then told that the money will not get to those that need help but i suspect will only go to shine the shoes of the officers of the military.

    are there practical ways to help? are there practical ways to let people know we care even though no one seems to be coming to help. As much as i want to let people in the disaster know that they are not alone i want in a practical way to affect at least a few lives as directly as i can and successfully.

    all suggestions appreciated.

  • Cho

    Why the life is so cheap there?
    It is apparent that the junta leaders are trained only to kill, not to value the life and times

  • […] Myanmar: Citizen videos in Cyclone Nargis’ aftermath […]

  • Craig

    We, the so called “superior animals” on this earth are sadly nothing more than parasites, set out to destroy the planet we live on. When mother nature has had enough she will impose control measures for she is a far greater power than the parasite.

    Human suffering is set aside while the governing authorities play their little games around politics and power. Also a sad fact of life that there are too many people that want to be at the top – nothing more than control freaks. If another country should invade Myanmar the peoples suffering will get worse before it gets better. At the end of the day, evil will only prevail where good men sit and do nothing.

    Our hearts go out to the people of Myanmar who are suffering, the rest of you should be looking over your shoulder. Power does not come at the end of a rifle, power comes from the unity of 57 million people.

  • SLwin

    For those who would like to help, I am told that Save the Children who have aid workers in Burma/Myanmar have access to the affect areas. Thank you for your kind generousity! THANK YOU to also to all those who have sent your thoughts and prayers for the victims and the people of Burma!!! How can the UN and the politicians of the world allow this genocide to go on…?

  • Nay Min

    Resettelment is need formally for women and childs.
    May who give the strong responsibility of them.
    How do make the best way for them?
    What about of control system?
    And also,don’t make them to become beggers.
    According to corporate social responsibility,there are many
    heavy local companies left in Myanmar.
    What are they silent yet?

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