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Santa Monica Sanctions
Seattle Campaign for a Free Burma
2319 N. 45th St., Suite 115 Seattle, WA 98103 =20
Ph: (206) 784-5742 Fax: (206) 784-8150
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:=09=09=09=09NOVEMBER 29, 1995
CONTACT: CAROL RICHARDS 310-451-4493
=09 LOUISA BENSON 310-454-3123
SANTA MONICA IMPOSES SANCTIONS AS BURMA TENSIONS RISE
SANTA MONICA, CA.--NOV. 29-- The Santa Monica (CA) City Council voted=20
unanimously last night to prohibit city contracts with companies doing=20
business in the Southeast Asian nation of Burma, where a military junta con=
to thwart Burmese aspirations for democracy.
=09The move was seen as a slap in the face of Los Angeles-based oil=20
giant Unocal, which had lobbied against the measure. Some Unocal executive=
and employees live in Santa Monica, and the city has contracts to buy Unoca=
gasoline. Unocal is a partner with Burma=D5s State Law and Order=20
Restoration Council (SLORC) in a highly controversial $1 billion natural ga=
project that has resulted in forced labor, forced relocation, and numerous
other human rights violations.=20
=09In a unanimous 6-0 vote, Santa Monica (pop. 86,000) becomes the=20
third U.S. city this year to impose tough "selective contracting" laws=20
against Burma. The laws are modeled on those used successfully during the
campaign against apartheid in South Africa in the 1980's. The other=20
cities are Berkeley (CA) and Madison (WI).
=09"These laws hit companies like Unocal, Texaco, Pepsico and Arco=20
where it hurts, right in the wallet" says Simon Billenness, senior=20
analyst at Franklin Research and Development in Boston. "During the next
year we expect similar legislation to be introduced in several states and=
major cities in the U.S., as well as Canada, Great Britain and Japan.
=09Santa Monica's move was well-timed: In Burma, the pro-democracy=20
party of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi this week announced a boycot=
the SLORC's national convention process, which is widely denounced as a=20
sham. The SLORC has jailed several dissidents, and issued threats against=
anyone criticizing the convention. Amnesty International fears that recent=
detainees face torture, which is endemic in the SLORC's prison system.
=09"This action in Santa Monica is a precious gift to Aung San Suu=20
Kyi and the Burma democracy movement" says Ko Latt, a refugee and torture=
victim from Burma. "It shows that the world is watching, and that people=
care about the restoration of human rights and dignity in my country."
=09Several multinationals, including Levi Strauss, Eddie Bauer,=20
Macy's and Amoco have withdrawn from Burma. Reports from Human Rights Watc=
Asia and refugees escaping to the Thai-Burma border detail systematic use o=
rape, torture and murder in the Unocal pipeline area. Unocal responds with=
blanket denials, but refuses to provide access to the area to independent h=
rights monitors. =20
=09City Council members took a close look at a situation that is=20
often ignored, and were highly critical of the companies propping up the=20
SLORC. "I hope that Santa Monica can be an example to other cities" says=
Council member Ken Genser. "We should avoid the products of these companie=
in our daily lives as well."
=09For her part, Aung San Suu Kyi this week said that under current=20
circumstances in Burma, companies wishing to do business in Burma "should=
jolly well wait."
=09The Santa Monica meeting was attended by representatives from=20
Amnesty International, the Burma Forum, the Los Angeles Campaign for a Free=
Burma, the UCLA Student Environmental Coalition, the Karen National Union a=
the All Burma Students Democratic Front.
Simon Billenness, Franklin Research & Development 617-423-6655 x225 Carol=
Richards, Burma Forum 310-451-4493
Ken Genser, Santa Monica City Council 310-395-0223
Louisa Benson, Karen National Union 310-454-3123 =09