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AFP on Unocal Meeting
Unocal shareholders protest Unocal pipeline Myanmar
LOS ANGELES, May 24 (AFP) - Oil and gas exploration company UNOCAL came
under fire Monday during its annual shareholders meeting over alleged human
rights abuses committed under the Myanmar regime overseeing the
installation of the firm's natural gas pipeline.
Outside of the meeting in Brea, California about 65 kilometers (40
miles) southeast of Los Angeles, protestors paraded giant effigies of
UNOCAL chief Roger Beach and a gun-toting Myanmar general.
The puppets' hands were painted red as if covered in blood.
The protestors were part of an effort organized by groups pressing
foreign companies to leave Myanmar rather than economically support the
military junta of the southern Asian country formerly known as Burma.
Shareholders confronted Beach with accounts of forced labor under
military oversight used to build UNOCAL's Yadana pipeline intended to bring
natural gas from Burma to Thailand.
UNOCAL has consistently denied involvement in human rights abuses or
forced displacement of villages, and Beach told shareholders the
allegations contradict regional findings.
Beach also said that he was constrained from responding to the
shareholders' complaints because of a lawsuit on the matter pending in a
Los Angeles court.
Larry Dohrs, of the Free Burma Coalition, presented a resolution (which
the coalition said received a 7.1 percent shareholder vote) calling on
UNOCAL to respond to official reports on the use of forced labor on the
Citing reports by the International Labor Organization and the US Labor
Department, Dohrs said, "You just don't make money on the backs of forced
laborers, not in the modern world."
Adressing Beach and members of the board of directors, Dohrs added: "You
will be held to account, and it will not take fifty years," a reference to
efforts to track down companies that did business with Nazi Germany.
AFP 250208 GMT 05 99