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Burma Headline News 12/21/96
- Subject: Burma Headline News 12/21/96
- From: waterly@xxxxxxxxx
- Date: Sat, 21 Dec 1996 11:34:00
____Burma Headline News________
Edit and Post By Weatherly
PR Newswir December 19, 1996, Thursday - 09:07 Eastern Time
SECTION: Financial News
DISTRIBUTION: TO BUSINESS EDITOR AND LABOR EDITOR
LENGTH: 557 words
HEADLINE: President of Energy Workers Union Calls for Investigation of Unocal's
Link to Burmese Drug Laundering;
Retired Union Member Submits Resolution for 1997 Shareholders Meeting
Robert E. Wages, president of the 90,000-member Oil, Chemical and Atomic
Workers International Union (OCAW), today called on Unocal Corporation to "clean
up its dirty international business" and to investigate the allegation that
Unocal's major partner in a joint venture in Burma is serving as a conduit for
laundering money obtained from the illegal production and sale of heroin.
This week a retired OCAW member and former local union officer filed
a shareholders' resolution to be voted on by shareholders at Unocal's
1997 annual meeting, calling for the outside company board members to
investigate the drug laundering allegation; determine if company officials had
any knowledge of it; and recommend a course of action based on the findings.
The allegation was made public in the December 16, 1996 issue of The Nation,
which reported on findings from a four-year investigation by the Geopolitical
Drugwatch in Paris that the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), a partner
with Unocal in the construction of a natural gas line across the southern
peninsula of Burma, was the major channel for laundering the revenues of
heroin produced and exported by the Burmese Army. LAKEWOOD, Colo., Dec. 19
According to the State Department, Burma is currently the largest
producer of illegal heroin in the world, and 60 percent of the heroin seized by
law enforcement officials in the U.S. comes from Burma.
"If the drug laundering allegation is true, it is very unlikely that
this could have occurred without the knowledge of Unocal officials," said
Wages. "Uncovering the truth may mean that Unocal bears direct responsibility
for the rise in heroin use in the U.S.," he added.
He termed the drug laundering allegation "deeply disturbing, which,
if substantiated and coming on the heels of widespread condemnation of
Unocal's links to the use of child and slave labor in Burma, will expose the
crucial connection between the company's dirty deeds in Burma and the
destruction of our communities in the U.S."
"It appears that Unocal, by abandoning its U.S. operations to take advantage
of low wage and slave labor in Asia, is leaving us with a bitter legacy," said
"It's ironic," he added, "that in the search for higher profits,
Unocal management has placed its shareholders, many of whom are OCAW members,
at great risk since it is clear that the democratic forces in Burma will
prevail, and Unocal will eventually be held accountable for crimes against the
Wages said his union is becoming more active in the movement to hold Unocal
accountable for its actions in Burma. "We have a lot at stake in this -- our
jobs, our communities, and the right of people everywhere to live with fairness,
dignity and respect," he said.
OCAW currently represents oil workers at Unocal refineries in California and
at the Uno-Ven refinery in Lemont, I11. (near Chicago), owned jointly by Unocal
and PDVSA, the government-owned oil company of Venezuela. In November, Unocal
announced its intent to sell its West Coast refining, marketing
and transportation assets to Tosco Corporation.
SOURCE Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers International Union
CONTACT: Joe Drexler or Rod Rogers, 303-987-2229, both of Oil, Chemical &
Atomic Workers International Union
BBC Summary of World Broadcasts December 20, 1996, Friday
SECTION: Part 3 Asia-Pacific; SOUTHEAST ASIA; BURMA; FE/D2800/B
HEADLINE: European Union takes economic sanctions over labour practices
SOURCE: Source: France 2 TV (Teletext), Paris, in French 1226 gmt 18 Dec 96
Text of report by France 2 TV teletext
The EU [European Union] is going to exclude Burma from the Generalized
System of Preferences because of its forced labour practices, the European
Commission announced on Wednesday [18th December]. This measure needs to be
ratified by the European Council of Ministers.
Sanctions were already taken in October in connection with the harassment
suffered by the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. The Generalized System of
Preferences makes it possible to lower customs duties.
BBC Summary of World Broadcasts December 20, 1996,
SECTION: Part 3 Asia-Pacific; SOUTHEAST ASIA; CAMBODIA; FE/D2800/B
HEADLINE: Chinese Television delegation arrives
SOURCE: Source: Xinhua news agency, Beijing, in English 1145 gmt 18 Dec 96
Text of report by Xinhua news agency
Rangoon, 18th December: Myanmar [ Burma] and China today [18th December]
expressed the hope for closer cooperation in the field of television as a
delegation of the Chinese Television and Artists Association (CTAA) arrived here
on a 10-day goodwill visit.
Myanmar Deputy Minister for Information U Thein Sein today met with the
three-member CTAA delegation headed by Hu En, deputy director-general of the
China Television Drama Production Centre. At the meeting, the two sides
expressed the hope to strengthen bilateral exchange programmes and cooperation
Chinese ambassador to Myanmar, Chen Baoliu, and Director-General of the
Myanmar Television and Radio Department, U Kyi Lwin, were present at the
BBC Summary of World Broadcasts December 19, 1996, Thursday
HEADLINE: Australian report details "culture of brutality" in jails
SOURCE: Source: Radio Australia external service, Melbourne, in English
Text of report by Radio Australia
A report released in Australia estimates that there are 1,000 political
prisoners in Burmese jails. The study of human rights abuses in Burmese prisons
was released by the Australian Council for Overseas Aid and the Sydney office
of Burma's government in exile. Executive director of the council Janet Hunt
[untraced] said the report showed a culture of brutality within Burma's 36
prisons. She said political prisoners were kept in cells meant for guard dogs
and several hundred were held in solitary confinement. Ms Hunt said that
Burma's regime refused to have jails inspected by independent bodies such as
the International Committee of the Red Cross.
COMLINE Daily News Transportation December 19, 1996
HEADLINE: ANA to Cooperate with Myanmar's AM
ANA  will undertake cooperation with Myanmar's Air Mandalay (AM) to
begin a ticket issuing and reservation service through ANA as early as this
February. By connecting its Kansai International Airport - Yangon route to its
domestic and overseas routes ANA will focus on capturing air passengers along
this line which at present ranks slightly under 50% in terms of utilization. The
2 companies have concluded a joint transport contract which allows ANA to issue
tickets for AM's flights. Currently ANA is the only company which is navigating
direct flights to Myanmar, but ANA is also displaying motivation by offering
connecting flights from Bangkok to Myanmar with Myanmar International Airlines.
AM is a new airline which began operation in 1994 through a joint venture
between Myanmar Airlines and Myanmar capita
Ref: Nihon Keizai Shimbun, 12/19/96
Financial Times December 19, 1996, Thursday EUROPE EDITION 1
HEADLINE: EU may curb Burmese imports in protest over forced labour
BYLINE: By Caroline Southey in Brussels and Ted Bardacke in Bangkok
The European Commission yesterday called for the suspension of Burma's
trade privileges on the grounds that Rangoon's military regime sanctions the use
of forced labour.
The action set a precedent in the Commission's bilateral trade relations by
linking trade and workers' rights for the first time.
The Commission proposed that the European Union withdraw the generalised
scheme of preferences (GSP), under which it offers developing countries
preferential tariffs - in Burma's case for industrial exports to the EU.
Burma last year exported industrial goods worth $ 30m to the EU, whose
officials estimate the GSP was worth $ 365,000.
Mr Manuel Marin, commissioner responsible for Asia, told colleagues the
proposal was a "pioneer case" and that action was necessary in the light of
evidence on the use of forced labour. EU finance ministers are expected to
endorse the action, which requires a qualified majority in favour, early next
Ministers at the World Trade Organisation meeting in Singapore last week
rejected calls to link the two issues, concluding that labour rights should be
dealt with by the International Labour Organisation and that labour standards
should not be used for protectionist purposes.
EU officials and diplomats in Rangoon said the overall economic impact of the
action was likely to be negligible. However some believed Burma's textile
industry would be affected.
"Without GSP privileges, we just won't be cost-effective compared to places
like Bangladesh or Cambodia, which also sell to the EU," said Mr Joe Pang,
director of Hong Kong's Victoria Garment Manufacturing, which has four factories
The Commission's proposal follows a year-long investigation which drew
evidence from written submissions, testimonies from Burmese and submissions from
lawyers, journalists and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
(ICFTU) which launched the complaint.
"We found that there was widespread use of forced labour, particularly since
Slorc [the Burmese military junta] took over," an EU official said. Evidence
suggested the practice was particularly widespread in the military, where people
have been forced to act as porters for troops, and on large infrastructure
projects, he added.
The ICFTU believes 800,000 Burmese are forced to work without pay or against
their will, contributing around a tenth of the country's economic output.
Editorial Comment, Page 13
The New York Times Company The New York Times
December 19, 1996, Thursday, Late Edition - Final
SECTION: Section A; Page 28; Column 6; Editorial Desk
LENGTH: 120 words
HEADLINE: Isolating Myanmar Would Only Cause Hardship for Its People;
To the Editor:
Re "Doing Business in Myanmar" (editorial, Dec. 16): At the Unocal
shareholders' meeting on June 3, Roger C. Beach, chairman of Unocal, agreed to
work with a group of shareholders to have a neutral human rights organization
inspect the company's pipeline project in Burma.
As one responsible for setting up such an organization, I have been
stonewalled by management's failure to respond to my mail, faxes and phone
calls. The excuses blocking me from meeting face to face with Mr. Beach and the
corporate secretary last week would have been comical had not the human rights
violations of those suffering in Burma been the issue.
(Rev.) JOSEPH P. LA MAR
Maryknoll, N.Y., Dec. 16, 1996
Agence France Presse December 18, 1996 18:14 GMT
HEADLINE: Burmese junta sets up new ministry in Burma
DATELINE: BANGKOK, Dec 18
The Burmese military junta created the Ministry of Sport on Wednesday and
named a senior military official to head it, state-run radio reported in a
dispatch monitored here.
The announcement was made by Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt, secretary general
of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), the official name of the
ruling Burmese military regime which seized power in 1988, Radio Rangoon said.
The ministry was set up to oversee national sporting activities, according to
the report. Colonel Sein Win was appointed to run it, the radio added.
Copyright 1996 The Baltimore Sun Company
The Baltimore Sun December 18, 1996, Wednesday, FINAL EDITION
SECTION: TELEGRAPH (NEWS), Pg. 20A
LENGTH: 118 words
HEADLINE: Leading dissident will be destroyed, Myanmar says
SOURCE: FROM WIRE REPORTS
BANGKOK, Thailand -- Myanmar's military government said yesterday that Nobel
Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi is a traitor conspiring with Western
governments, and will be destroyed.
"Looking back at history, all traitors who tried to challenge or oppose the
military are doomed to face failure and destruction," said an article in the
state-run press in Myanmar, formerly Burma.
Press commentaries have called Suu Kyi a traitor before. But this commentary
appeared to go a step further by speaking of "destruction."
Suu Kyi's motorcade was attacked Nov. 9 by a mob that witnesses said was
organized and paid by the government. The government has denied the charge.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS December 18, 1996, Wednesday, STATE EDITION
HEADLINE: AROUND THE WORLD
BYLINE: From Wire Reports
Burma brands Nobel winner a traitor
BANGKOK, Thailand- Burma's military government said Tuesday that Nobel
Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi is a traitor conspiring with Western
governments and that she will be destroyed. "Looking back at history, all
traitors who tried to challenge or oppose the Burmese military are doomed to
face failure and destruction," said an article in the state-run press. The
military blames Ms. Suu Kyi for last week's pro-democracy demonstrations.
Deutsche Presse-Agentur December 18, 1996, Wednesday, BC Cycle
16:29 Central European Time
SECTION: International News
HEADLINE: Battles loom over Burma, East Timor
BYLINE: By Shada Islam
Plans for stronger trade and diplomatic relations between the European Union
and the seven-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have run
into problems over the two regions' differing views on policy towards Burma
and East Timor, say senior European and Asian officials.
EU and Asean Foreign Ministers are set to meet in Singapore in mid-February
to discuss upgrading political and economic ties. Preparations for the meeting
will be held in Dublin Thursday.
But the European Commission's decision to end tariff preferences for
Burma, combined with Portugal's determination to link its bilateral problems
with Indonesia over East Timor to the wider Euro- Asean relationship, have cast
a cloud over the scheduled encounters.
"We're trying to get the relationship on the fast track," said an EU
official. "But the human rights issues keep coming up to haunt us."
Divergences over human rights have long been an irritant in Euro- Asean
ties. At a landmark meeting in Karlsruhe in Germany two years ago, however, both
sides agreed to stop squabbling over human rights and to concentrate on
promoting their trade and business ties.
Since then, progress in forging closer Euro-Asean bonds has been impressive.
European and Asean heads of government met in Bangkok last March for a
first-ever summit which also brought together leaders from Japan, China and
In July this year, the European Commission came forward with plans for a
"dynamic partnership" with Asean, arguing that the region was the cornerstone of
the EU's plans for a stronger presence in Asia.
The plan is that EU and Asean foreign ministers should issue a ministerial
declaration in Singapore in February highlighting their ambitions for upgrading
political and economic ties.
But Portugal says it will not endorse the statement because of Indonesia's
"daily brutal represssion of human rights" in East Timor.
"We are conscious of the economic importance of Asean and want closer
economic ties with the region," says a Portuguese official. "But we exclude any
political upgrading of the relationship."
Lisbon says it is holding up the ministerial statement because it wants to
make it clear that Portugal "will never forget East Timor." "We want to keep up
the pressure on Indonesia," said a Portuguese diplomat.
East Timor, with a population of under one million, was invaded by Indonesia
in 1975 and annexed by Jakarta a year later. Portugal has denounced the
occupation and wants to give the East Timorese the right of
Other EU countries, anxious to get into Asean markets, are looking for a way
out of the impasse. "We want better relations with Asean and don't like hold-ups
of this kind," said one European diplomat.
Asean too is unhappy. Asean diplomats say they are ready to talk about human
rights with Europe, provided bilateral problems are not put on the
"All we want to do is to move our cooperation to a higher level," says an
Asean diplomat. "It's not a good sign when bilateral and multilateral agendas
get mixed up."
The European Commission's decision to suspend tariff preferences for Burma
because of the government's use of child labour in the construction, tourism and
gas industries is set to become another sore point in EU-Asean ties.
The EU is seeking a tougher Asean stance on Burma and does not agree with
the region's policy of "constructive engagement" with Rangoon. Asean, on the
other hand, has warned the EU against isolating Burma through trade sanctions
or withdrawal of tariff benefits.
EU officials insist that their decision to stop giving tariff preferences to
Burma is not based on political grounds. "Under EU rules, such concessions
cannot be given to countries accused of violating the international ban on
forced labour," one official said. "This is not about politics."
But, others say the move will make it clear to the military regime that the
EU is losing patience with its policies.
"It's a powerful signal" of EU displeasure with the Burmese governments,
says the EU's Social Affairs Commissioner Padraig Flynn. "Forced labour in
Burma is an everyday occurence, an institutionalised system under the military
regime." dpa si