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Oct. 27, Protest in Indiana

(This appeared in the local student run paper)
Monday, October 30, 1995
Bloomington, IN
By Harumi Maeda
The voice gained strength as the afternoon sun came out.  "Pepsi, get out
of Burma," protesters exclaimed. 

About 50 Bloomington residents and students gathered Friday afternoon
outside of Pepsi-Cola Bottlers of Bloomington, 214 W. 17th.  St., Friday
afternoon.  They held posters high protesting PepsiCo's investment in
Burma, a Southeast Asian nation ruled by military dictatorship. 

The demonstration was a beginning of a worldwide campaign for a free
Burma, said Tun Myint, 25, an IU student and Burmese political refugee. 
Burmese and human rights activists organized the campaign in cities all
around the world to protest the State Law and Order Restoration Council,
Burma's military dictatorship. 

More than 50 institutions in the United States joined the protest and
called for the withdrawl of PepsiCo, Texaco, and Unocal, who remain in
Burma where some businesses have already left.
"I really hope that Pepsi will begin to talk with campaign groups in the
world," Myint said. 

But so far, PepsiCo has refused to withdraw from Burma because it says it
is not doing business with the government, Myint said.
A company spokeswoman said the company is refusing to comment about
Friday's protest.
MBA student Peter Cheng joined the protest from a businessman's 
point of view.  He said he disagrees with Pepsi's strategy to invest in 
Burma because the government uses slave labor to build the infrastructure 
of Pepsi.
"It's not ethical," Cheng said.  "You can't just care about money."
He also said Pepsi would be forced from Burma if democratic leader Aung
San Suu Kyi returned to power. 
But Burma is a long way from restoring democracy.  The Associated Press
reported Oct. 23 that the Burmese government ruled that the reappointment
of Aung San Suu Kyi's to a leadership role in her political party was
"We must finish our own problem through dialogue," Myint said.  "But the
military government proved that they will go their own way.  They won't
give up."
Myint said he was hoping that the campaign would put pressure on the
Burmese government as well as educate the Bloomington community and IU
students about the situation in Burma.
Myint has been eager to talk about his country with people in the
community since he came to IU in 1993.  Jennifer Bass, 41, got to know
Myint personally, and that's how she and her 7- and 11-year-old daughters
came to join the protest.
"We've heard his stories," Bass said.  "My children know what happened to
Tun and why he had to leave his country."
Back in Burma, where the arrest and persecution without reason by the
military government is common, Myint participated in the 1988 student
pro-democracy demonstrations.  The government resoponded to it with power,
and he fled to neighboring Thailand.
"It's important for children to know that the people live like that in
another part of the world and to appreciate the freedom that we have
here,"  Bass said. 
At the intersection near PepsiCo, Paola Voci, a Chinese major graduate
student, approached a car waiting at a traffic light.  When she explained
Pepsi's business in Burma, a driver replied, "You know, we're Americans. 
We have the right to do business wherever we want."
"We are here not as much to make people think," Voci said, "at least just
to get their attention."  She said she hoped people would think the
meaning of the protest when they read fliers or articles later on.
"Buying Pepsi is not just buying soda," Voci said.  "Just remind people
that Pepsi is a large company, and you can boycott Pepsi products and make
a change in a country like Burma."
In a parking lot in front of PepsiCo, another female protestor talked to a
Pepsi employee getting out of a car.
	"Do you know Pepsi does business in Burma?"
	"I don't want to," a man replied.
	"People are being killed because of forced labor."
	"They kill themselves.  That's their problem," the man said.
	"Pepsi kills, Pepsi kills," two other protestors joined her.
Director of IU International Services Kenneth A. Rogers, who has supported
two Burmese students at IU, said there could be more productive approaches
than boycott.
"I am not opposed to the boycott," Rogers said.  "But historically boycott
has never had much effect.  My suggestion is making approach to these
companies to see if we can persuade them to give money for scholarship to
Burmese students or exiles."
Indiana Campaign for a Free Burma, a committee of Burmese activists and IU
Amnesty International, also will urge the IU Alumni Association to cancel
its visit to Burma next February. The trip is promoted through the "1996
Visit Myanmar(Burma) Year," a military government's camaign to attract
"The military leaders presently order citizens to work as forced laborers
to prepare the country for tourism and foreign investments," the committee
states in a petition.
Joan Curts, director of IU Alumni travel, said IU Alumni Association
hadn't talked with students yet, but said that she doubted that there
would be any changes in plans to visit.
"We've never canceled trips for that reason," Curts said.  The 17-day trip
will visit five Southeast Asia countries and features a seven- nights
cruise on M.S. Song for Flower, Curtis said.
"We're not making any political statement here," Curts said.  "I think
that openness is always good as opposed to secrecy.  Secrecy is an enemy
of democracy."
Indiana Campaign for a Free Burma plans to meet with the IU Alumni
Association next week. 
{Bloomington residents Jeff Melton and Sarah Brault protest Friday 
outside the Pepsi plant on West 17th Street.}