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- Date: Wed, 27 Apr 1994 20:41:00
Subject: ...forced labour in Burma
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Date: Wed, 27 Apr 1994 13:55:42 -0700
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Subject: NEWS: Unocal Linked to Forest Ruin and Forced Labor in Burma
To: Multiple recipients of list ACTIV-L <ACTIV-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
[Greenpeace Press Release -- Redistribute Freely]
Via Environet, The Greenpeace BBS 415-512-9108
26 April 1994
UNOCAL LINKED TO FOREST RUIN AND FORCED LABOR IN BURMA
PROTEST AT UNOCAL SHAREHOLDER'S MEETING
Los Angeles, April 25 (GP) Calling on Unocal Corporation
to end its joint venture with the Burmese junta, Greenpeace,
Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and the Burma Forum will
demonstrate at Unocal's corporate headquarters during the annual
shareholder's meeting. The protest is focused on Unocal's
investment in a natural gas pipeline through rainforest in Burma.
At 9:00 a.m. on Monday, April 25, at 1201 5th St. in
downtown Los Angeles, activists will conduct a high profile
airborne demonstration. Large photos depicting the chain-gang
forced labor used in Burma to build roads and clear forest will
be creatively displayed.
Forced labor is currently being used to provide
infrastructure for a pipeline from the Andaman Sea through
Burma's Tenasserim division to Thailand. Inside the meeting,
shareholders will be discussing a resolution requesting Unocal to
publicly disclose all of its activities in Burma.
The activists are protesting Unocal's 47.5 percent share in
a natural gas concession in Burma because of human rights abuses
and forest destruction wrought by the country's ruling military
regime, the State, Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC).
In March 1994, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights
condemned the SLORC for torturing Burmese people, undertaking
summary executions, using forced labor, arresting and imprisoning
people for political reasons, and for the abuse of women.
In addition to today's demonstration, Greenpeace will
release a report on the connection between the gas pipeline,
human rights abuses and destruction to the tropical forest. The
report, based on a recent visit to Burma, is centered around
interviews with indigenous people, such as the Karen and Mon who
live in the pipeline area.
"This proposed pipeline encapsulates all that is wrong with
Burma under the death grip of the SLORC," said Pamela Wellner,
Greenpeace forest campaigner. This includes slave labor, forced
relocation and looting of villages by the military and
environmental degradation of the forest.
"Unocal can't keep justifying its involvement with this
junta by saying they are providing employment," Wellner said.
"The truth is, they are supporting slavery and forest ruin. This
will not be kept a secret for 15 years like their Californian oil
spill; too many people know of these atrocities."
The Center for Constitutional Rights, a public interest law
firm, in a recent letter to the CEO of Unocal stated "...Unocal
could be held legally liable for deaths, injuries, property
damage or other harm arising out your company's operations in
Burma. Unocal denies that their investment is related to the
human rights abuses.
Greenpeace, RAN and the Burma Forum are asking Unocal and
other foreign companies such as Total of France, the other
partner in the offshore gas concession, to pull their operations
out of Burma. This is in solidarity with the National Coalition
Government for the Union of Burma, the democratic coalition which
has not been allowed to take power. The NCGUB and the ethnic
nationalities are asking companies not to invest with SLORC and
to hold their business interest in Burma until a democratic
government is in power.
"If the Unocal shareholders were aware of the human rights
atrocities perpetrated on their behalf, I am sure they would not
condone Unocal doing business with the SLORC," said Naw Louisa
Benson, co-founder of the Burma Forum and a member of the Karen
ethnic group whose land borders the pipeline area.
Much of the slave labor in the pipeline area is connected to
the extension of the "Death Railway" originally built with the
forced labor of the Allied Forces during the World War II. In
February, Mon officials reported that over 35,000 people had been
conscripted to work on the railway in deplorable conditions.
"Only one small tin of rice is provided to the workers and
many people are dying of some form of dysentery because of
unsanitary living conditions," said an official of the New Mon
State Party. The forest is also being logged to provide sleepers
for the railroad.
In 1988, SLORC gunned down over 2,000 pro-democracy
protesters, causing most western nations such as the US. to stop
foreign aid. Since that time SLORC has been selling off its
natural resources, such as timber, oil and gas, to gain cash to
buy armaments to further suppress its people. Investment by oil
companies is considered the largest single source of foreign
currency to the SLORC.
Contact: Cynthia Rust, Greenpeace News Desk 206/632-4326
Pager Number at the Protest Site 415/280-2141