If you hadn’t been paying attention to international news, Myanmar is bordering on a humanitarian crisis. This is the result of a cyclone which swept through the impoverished nation and the government’s decision to prevent aid workers from entering the country. Western journalists are also being prevented from entering the country. The result? Images are sneaking their way on to Facebook. According to ABC News, “Relief workers and survivors inside Myanmar, formerly Burma, are sending e-mail updates and photos to friends and contacts outside the country to be posted on Facebook.”
Fortunately for the people in the country some relief materials are being accepted from the UN and INGOs but much more is needed. I have previously written about the global impact of Facebook and social networks and their ability to connect people worldwide. The brunt of my prior post was that Facebook has focused on developing a platform which is effective for hosting political (and non-political) discussion.
The people that are currently sending out information via phone, email and instant messaging are risking 10 to 15 years in prison, torture and the well-being of their families. Myanmar is also well known for the protests led by monks against the Junta which resulted in a backlash of violence and the deaths of thousands of citizens. Facebook has been used as the platform for people to spread the message out about what is going on inside the territory.
One group you can currently view and join is called “Support the Relief Efforts for Burma (Myanmar) Cyclone Disaster Victims“. Our hopes and prayers are with the people of Myanmar. Unfortunately the pictures can only help tell the story of tragedy, but hopefully enough of a movement can be created to bring about change.