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Melbourne Aid Concert Draws Hundreds

Melbourne, Australia: The Chin Famine Live Aid Concert, the first of a series of benefit shows to take place in Australia, drew hundreds of people last night filling the Boxhill Townhall to capacity. About 800 people showed up to hear performances by two celebrities from India’s Mizoram and Chin State of Burma.

“It was a great turnout. More people showed up than we initially expected,” says Cung Hu Lian, a member of the concert organizing committee in Melbourne. The proceeds from the concert will be donated to relief groups in India-Burma border, which distribute live-saving food aid to famine affected communities in Chin State.

Last night’s concert featured perfomances by Cung Lian Thawng, a celebrated vocalist from Chin State, and a famous singer, Mimi Lalzamliani from Mizoram State, together with other local musicians and vocal talents living in Australia.

“The proceed money, however small amount it may be, will save many lives,” says David Thang, a contact person for the organizing committe in Melbourne.

As the bushfire raged many parts of Victoria, claiming up to 200 lives, last night’s Melbourne concerts participants remembered and paid tribute to those who have been killed and injured in the worst-ever bushfire by observing a two-minute silence. Victor Biak Lian of Chin Human Rights Organization sent condolences message and sympathy to the fire victims.

“At the same time that we heed the cry for help from the people of Chinland, who are living on the brink of starvation, we offer our deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims and their families of the bushfire here,” he said.

The ongoing famine in Chin State began in late 2006 when basic crops and paddy fields in the agriculture-dependent region were destroyed by a rat infestation resulting from the rare natural phenomenon of mass bamboo flowering.

A report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) said that the ongoing famine in Chin State in north-west Burma will last at least another two to three years.

According to Chin Human Right Organization (CHRO) and World Food Programme (WFP), an estimated 100,000 people in 129 villages have been severely affected by the ongoing famine, which happens only once in fifty years because of rodent infestation. In twice a century, an indigenous variety of bamboo in Chin State flowers abundantly and attracts the rodents. The rats eat the fruit of the flowering bamboo, multiple quickly and destroy 75% of crops in Chin State, Burma.

Lian Ding Hmung

Chinland Guardian

15 February, 2009

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