Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Burma benefit

Hats off to those involved in a benefit concert in Taipei at the weekend, organised to raise awareness of the victims of the cyclone in Burma - or Myanmar, as its military rulers prefer to call it.

Events there - resulting in at least 78,000 deaths - have been overshadowed by news coverage of China's devastating earthquake in Sichuan province, especially in Taiwan, where the tv networks, so normally locally-obsessed, have put it at the top of their headlines.

While the Chinese authorities were quick to begin rescue and relief work, the story was different in Burma, which is run by a military junta and, until last weekend - and under much international coverage - agreed to allow in outside help and aid.

In Taiwan, the government has pledged million of dollars in aid for China; and thousands of individuals have also donated money. That compares to the pledges of several thousand dollars in aid for Burma, which is just as needy.

A concert at the weekend hoped to raise more awareness about the situation in Burma, and also some money for the victims.

Many bands performing had Burmese connections. The lead singer of Underflow, a Hsinchu based band, is from Shan State in Burma. Eric Tuan has lived and studied in Taiwan for the past ten years.

He says many Taiwanese have been moved to help China’s earthquake victims because of the widespread media coverage; and that has overshadowed attention about Burma.

"After the tv, all watch the news and know about Sichuan…the media is the main key give the people think some places are very important. That’s why we are here today. We want let more local people to know situation back in Burma is very serious; they need help..more than 1m have no place to stay.if they donate and help, it will help them.”

Besides live music, and a chance to snack on locally made Burmese food, compilations of international television news coverage of the cyclone damage and its aftermath were screening to help give those attending a wider picture of the extent of the disaster. Event co-organizer, Celia Yang is from Burma herself, but has lived in Taiwan for the past 16 years.

"Burma is kind of closed and not so much information,. I don’t want people to forget there are people who are there, hungry and need our help. So this event is to catch attention, awareness, to see that there are still people in Burma, victims, who need our help."

While organisers got busy contacting many of the local Burmese community asking them to help with the event – Celia got an unexpected phone call from Hong Kong based pop-rock singers, Soler, asking if they could take part. The twin brothers Julio and Dino Acconci, were born in Macau, sons of an Italian father and Burmese mother. They’re now making a big name for themselves in Asia – and have just been nominated for a Golden Melody award this year. But Dino explained why they were so keen to play for free at the event.

"Its just help…Any way we can… we are talking about a meaningful event.. Anything you can do to help save human lives or encouraging other to help another to help any human being is very worthwhile.

"I do know there are some organisations that haven’t forgotten Burma. What I’d like I’d like to see others not just help their own blood, their own race. I was born in macau..that connects me to china; but my mother is Karen, and that connects me to burma. And my father is Italian. And so I could never choose. I consider myself a human being of the human race; so lets help each other, not just those of a certain race.

The participation of the twins might have helped gain wider media attention of the event. And that was one of the main aims of the day of music: to make sure the victims of the cyclone in Burma should not be forgotten.

In fact, the event raised aised a total of N$117,530 which is going to the Taiwan Red Cross. NT$9,000 of that total was raised in Taichung by the band Public Radio who performed at the Taichung Compass Food Festival.


Anonymous said...

Hello there,

This is a inquiry for the webmaster/admin here at

May I use some of the information from your blog post right above if I give a link back to your website?


Anonymous said...

Hi - I am really delighted to find this. cool job!