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Saperstein: We just hope the regime will not perpetrate its greatest act of abuse on the people of Burma by preventing the world from helping them in their time of greatest need.
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Washington D.C. May 8, 2008 – In response to the tragic and rising human toll taken by the cyclone in Burma as well as reports that the oppressive military junta is blocking aid efforts, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
“Last week a country already ravaged by political discord was hit with a natural disaster that has left in its wake not only up to 100,000 people dead, but as many as 1 million people in immediate need of food and water. Even more will likely be left without homes and businesses. The world is ready to help – and must be allowed to do so.
In recent years, too many communities (and particularly those in poor areas) have been hit by natural disasters. Based on these experiences, we have increased our international coordination and capacity to help those in immediate need wherever they may be. Yet reports suggest that the Burmese government, which has systematically denied human rights to its citizens for almost 20 years, is obstructing international aid efforts. We hope the regime will not perpetrate its greatest act of abuse on the Burmese people by continuing to prevent the world from helping them in their time of greatest need. In this context, we commend the U.S. government for its efforts to get aid to the people of Burma and encourage its effort to mobilize international pressure on the regime to facilitate the delivery of this urgently needed aid.
Reform Jews have already come forward with generous donations, as they have so often in the face of such tragedies throughout our Movement’s history. The Union for Reform Judaism recommends that donations be made to the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief (www.jcdr.org). Beyond this, we will continue to work to overcome any roadblocks to access now and in the coming months as the people of Burma rebuild.
Our thoughts and our prayers are with the people of Burma.