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Reuters Belgian group seeks Total b

Subject: Reuters Belgian group seeks Total boycott over Myanmar 

Belgian group seeks Total boycott over Myanmar
10:55 a.m. May 10, 1999 Eastern
BRUSSELS, May 10 (Reuters) - A new Belgian human rights group on Monday
called for a consumer boycott of petrol stations operated by France's Total
and Belgium's PetroFina to pressure the companies to withdraw from Myanmar.

The group, called Petrol or Burma, told a news conference it wanted
companies to withdraw from Myanmar because of alleged human rights
violations by the military government.

Total is the largest shareholder in the Yadana offshore gas field project
with 31 percent. Petrol or Burma said the project represented one-third of
total foreign investment in Myanmar.

The group is targeting PetroFina's Fina stations because it is merging with
Total. PetroFina declined to comment and Total could not be reached for

``We are primarily acting in the interest of democracy in Burma,'' Petrol or
Burma spokesman Gregor Chapelle said.

He said the group was responding to a call in 1996 by opposition leader Aung
San Suu Kyi not to invest in Myanmar to prevent money going to the military

Chapelle said his group had not made similar boycott calls in France because
of legal constraints.

In the United States, human rights activists are suing oil company Unocal,
which holds 28 percent of the Yadana project, over alleged human rights
abuses in Myanmar.

Tyler Giannini, a lawyer for Earthrights International, which is
representing plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Unocal, said Yadana provided
the Burmese government with annual revenues of between $150 million and $450

The other participants in Yadana are the Petroleum Authority of Thailand
with about 25 percent and the government-controlled Myanmar Oil and Gas
Enterprise, with about 15 percent.