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Suzuki Boycott Blooms
Suzuki's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Sunday in San Diego was turned into a
Free Burma event! Both bands at the post-race concert, Hootie and the
Blowfish, and Dave Wakeling, spoke out about Burma, and displayed "Suzuki
out of Burma" stickers on their instruments. The bands insisted that a
big Suzuki banner be taken down from behind the stage before they would
perform, and spoke at length about Suzuki and Burma during a VH-1
interview the day of the concert. When Suzuki officials tried to close
down the Free Burma table at the concert, Hootie's lawyer stepped in.
This came after leafleting at the marathon itself and other related events,
by the San Diego activists. We have also contacted a number of the
marathon co-sponsors to let them know about Suzuki and Burma.
In addition, demonstrators visited Suzuki's US headquarters in Brea,
California on Monday. They were met by a phalanx of security, led by a
gun toting "Lt. Soto" who immediately threatened all Free Burma visitors
with arrest. There was no opportunity to meet with Suzuki
For your enjoyment, here is Hootie's press release:
Contact: Simon Billenness, Trillium Asset Management (617)
Dan Orzech, Free Burma Coalition (610) 650-7755
Rusty Harmon, Hootie & The Blowfish (803) 254-6977
Hootie & The Blowfish Criticizes Suzuki For Ties to Burmese Military Junta
New York. - [Monday, May 24] Today, Hootie & the Blowfish sent a letter to
the Suzuki Motor Corporation explaining why the band has spoken out against
the company's presence in Burma. The band criticized the company in a
recent interview with VH-1 and performed at the Suzuki-sponsored San Diego
Marathon wearing "Suzuki out of Burma" stickers and t-shirts.
In its letter to Suzuki, Hootie & the Blowfish states that the band seeks
to publicly dissociate itself from any potential endorsement of Suzuki and
its decision to do business in Burma. The band is particularly concerned
that Suzuki decided to do business with a company owned by the Burmese
Suzuki announced in October 1998 that it would invest $10 million dollars
into a joint venture to build cars and motorcycles in Burma. Suzuki's 30%
joint venture partner is a company owned by the Burmese military junta.
Since the junta requires companies that hire more than five people to hire
from a list provided by the army, the jobs that Suzuki creates will likely
go to military supporters and not the general public.
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the party that
overwhelmingly won the 1990 Burmese elections, has called for sanctions on
the Burmese military junta. She has stated that until Burma has a political
system "that guarantees rule of law and basic democratic institutions, no
amount of aid or investment will benefit our people. Profits from business
enterprises will merely go toward enriching a small, already very
A rapidly-growing number of U.S. and European companies have withdrawn from
Burma. "Company after company has withdrawn from Burma amid shareholder
pressure and consumer boycotts," states Simon Billenness, senior analyst
with Trillium Asset Management of Boston, a socially responsible investment
firm that has targeted companies that do business in Burma. "Without the
financial support of companies such as Suzuki, the generals would be
bankrupt. Suzuki is placing its worldwide business at risk with its
partnership with Burma's ruling military junta."
The Free Burma Coalition has announced an international boycott of Suzuki.
The Coalition has targeted Suzuki automotive, motorcycle and marine dealers
around the world for consumer boycotts.
Burma is ruled by a narco-dictatorship that is widely regarded as one of
the worst human rights offenders in the world. The generals running Burma
are international pariahs, banned from setting foot in the United States or
the European Union. They have been condemned for human rights violations,
including summary executions, torture, forced relocation, systematic rape
and the ethnic cleansing of Christian, Moslem and other minorities groups.
The U.S. Department of Labor recently documented the massive use of forced
labor in Burma.
In addition, the junta has turned Burma into the world's largest heroin
exporter. According to the U.S. State Department, the country has become a
global center for narcotics money laundering.
In its letter, Hootie & Blowfish compare the Free Burma movement to the
campaign against apartheid in South Africa. During the 1970's and 1980's
millions of Americans - and others around the world - joined in
condemnation of the apartheid regime in South Africa and those companies
that supported it. President Nelson Mandela has frequently praised this
important contribution to the successful struggle against apartheid.
Last August, Celine Dion's concert tour was the scene of widely publicized
protests because Ericsson, the tour sponsor, did business in Burma. The
protests ended after only a couple of weeks as Ericsson announced that it
would withdraw from Burma. Since 1992, dozens of companies have withdrawn
from Burma including, Apple , ARCO, Eastman Kodak, Levi Strauss, Pepsi,
Seagram's and Texaco.
In its letter, Hootie & the Blowfish strongly urge Suzuki to take similar
action and end its business in Burma.
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