BURMA: Police held drivers and their trucks carrying relief


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-117-2008
ISSUES: Police violence, Refugees, IDPs & Asylum seekers, Right to food, Right to health,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been informed that police authorities in Yangon had seized dozens of vehicles used by the relief workers to deliver urgently needed food and water for cyclone victims. The local officials were also reportedly taking drastic actions upon workers to prevent them from continuing their relief effort.


On May 25, at least around 70 vehicles used by relief workers had been stopped and had their vehicles confiscated by traffic policemen upon reaching a bridge in Hlaingthayar Township. The vehicles were part of the group of local people distributing food, water and other goods to the affected villagers in Daydaye and Pyapon Townships, when their vehicles were seized.

When one of the private donors, who was then in the group, had asked from the policemen for explanation why they and their trucks are being held, they did not give any reasons. Instead, they told the truck drivers go proceed to the Government Technology Institute compound in Insein Township.

Although the authorities had later released the truck drivers later that midnight and that their trucks were given back afternoon of the next day, May 26, but the police had refused to return to their drivers’ licenses.

Because of the government’s inability to get themselves organized, the local people had taken their own initiatives in distributing relief good to victims by renting vehicles to carry their goods. For instance, the monks, too, who had come from other places, have had to hire vehicles to carry goods that would be distributed.

However, after the May 25 incident, drivers there are now frightened either to get involved by being hired or their vehicles used fearing they too would be held and their vehicles seized. This incident has already had tremendous consequence to groups wanting to distribute relief goods. One donor describe it has become impossible to reach the needy unless this is prevented.

The local officials there had been blaming the people delivering food and water for reasons that the humanitarian work, even by the local persons, they are doing is humiliating and obstructing the government’s operations. Some of the workers have already been reportedly charged with criminal offences though no further details on this case yet.


This is not the first that government officials are deliberately taking drastic actions against the survivors of the cyclone. On May 9, the AHRC has reported the government officials also forced in pushing away survivors out from government buildings where they have sought refuge (AHRC-UAC-094-2008).

It is of extreme importance to closely monitor the Burmese government’s action in dealing with the relief workers and the distribution of relief goods. What is happening there is largely contrary to what had been reported; and pledges by the Burmese government to the international community it would do.

For instance, the seizure of vehicles used in relief work took place just two days after Senior General Than Shwe, head of Burma’s military junta, was reported to have given assurance to UN’s Ban Ki-Moon that they would allow all aid workers access regardless of their nationalities into the country.

Also, there are allegations that during Mr. Ban Ki-Moon’s visit those whom he had meet are actually persons whom the government had organized. Some of them are either not survivors nor had been affected by the cyclone. During his visit also, many affected people had come to the street begging for money to buy food to eat, but they instead threatened and pushed away by the authorities.

Please write letters to the concerned authorities urging them to look into this. The government should allow, as what they have already public pledged, free access to the devastated areas by relief workers. Those who are involved in delivering relief goods should not be threatened or harassed. They, too, should be given assurance that similar incident should not happen again.

For the sake of the letter, please refer to Burma as Myanmar and Rangoon as Yangon. Please also be informed that the AHRC is writing separate letters to numerous UN and international agencies encouraging their interventions.

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Dear _________,

BURMA: Police held drivers and their trucks carrying relief

I am writing to raise my serious concern regarding the actions taken by the police authorities and the local government officials upon the relief workers which is effectively preventing them to carry on their needed relief work.

I have learned that on May 25, at least 70 trucks, who had come from the Daydaye and Pyapon Townships in Yangon after delivering relief goods, have had their trucks confiscated and truck drivers briefly held without any explanation. They were passing at a bridge in Hlaingthayar Township when they were stopped.

The drivers were released though later that midnight and the trucks had also been returned to them the following day, May 26. However, I have learned that the driver’s licenses of these drivers have not been returned. It is for this reason that some of the drivers there are too frightened to get involved.

For instance, they have already refused monks wanting to get their service and use their vehicles in delivering needed relief goods to survivors in the affected villages. The drivers and truck owners there now fears that should they get involved, they may be also held and their trucks seized.

While I appreciate the government’s assurance it would allow aid workers access to affected areas; however, I am concerned by the action taken by the police authorities there in this case. This incident has had serious consequences already. For instance, the effect of having the drivers and their truck been briefly held, had resulted to others refusing to get involved by now.

I therefore urge the government that it should give assurance this incidents will not happen again. They, too, should ensure that the authorities return the driver’s licenses of those truck drivers whom they briefly held.

Yours sincerely,


1. Lt-Gen. Thein Sein
Prime Minister
c/o Ministry of Defence
Tel: + 95 1 372 681
Fax: + 95 1 652 624

2. Maj-Gen. Maung Oo
Minister for Home Affairs
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10
Tel: +95 67 412 079/ 549 393/ 549 663
Fax: +95 67 412 439

3. Brig-Gen. Khin Yi
Director General
Myanmar Police Force
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10
Tel: +95 67 412 079/ 549 393/ 549 663
Fax: +95 67 412 439

4. Maj-Gen. Maung Maung Swe
Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement
Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement
Office No. 23
Tel: +95 67- 404 020-22/ 404 337
Fax: +95 67- 404 335

5. U Aung Bwa
Director-General, ASEAN-Myanmar
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tel: +951 229 214; 221 191
Fax: +951 222 950; 221 719
E-mail: dgaseanmofa@myanmar.com.mm

6. Mr. Patrick Vial
Head of Delegation
No. 2 (C) – 5 Dr. Ba Han Lane
Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, 8th Mile
Mayangone Township
Tel.: +951 662 613 / 664 524
Fax: +951 650 117
E-mail: yangon.yan@icrc.org

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrchk.org)

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-117-2008
Countries : Burma (Myanmar),
Issues : Police violence, Refugees, IDPs & Asylum seekers, Right to food, Right to health,