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Comments on UNOCAL Reply
COMMENTS ON UNOCAL REPLY
Released by ISBDA on December 8, 1995.
I have received a reply letter from Unocal Corporation providing their arguments
for proceeding Yadana pipeline project in Burma. The arguments are based on the
(1) Unocal and Total found no-evidence of human right violations in connection
with their proposed project.
(2) Constructive engagement is productive to democratize Burma and is consistent
with American foreign policy.
(3) Energy development at Yadana pipeline project will benefit the people of
Myanmar. For example, villagers living in the vicinity of the pipeline route can
get opportunities for employment.
My Comments are:
Fact (1) is simply unacceptable since it means that numerous reports on human
rights violations in Myanmar including those by UN reporter were based on what
had really happened throughout the country but not at those particular villages
in the vicinity of Unocal project.
Fact (2) on the expected outcome of constructive engagement is absurd because
there is no other country than Japan that engaged with the military regime in
Burma for more than three decades and the result was a bloodbath in 1988.
Fact (3) is meaningless because no engineer will design a gas pipeline that
requires villagers' help to maintain or to watch if it is operating safely and
Dr. K. Tint
Full text of the reply letter is as follows:
1201 West 51h Street, PO, Box 7600
Los Angeles, California 90051
Telephone (213) 977-5047
Facsimile (213) 977-7813
November 21, 1995
(From) David M. Garcia
Senior Public Relations Representative
Dear Kyaw Tint:
I'd like to respond to your letter regarding the Yadana pipeline
First, I want to emphasize three points: 1) Unocal will not tolerate any
human rights abuses in any of our projects anywhere in the world; 2) we will not
assert ourselves in the internal politics of any sovereign nation; and 3) we
are firmly committed to the Yadana project and remain convinced that it will
bring sustainable, long-term benefits to the people of Myanmar.
Our Commitment to Human Rights
I want to make absolutely clear that, as a matter of company policy, we
will not do business in any country where we cannot operate in an ethical and
Along with our co-venturer and project operator, Total, the French
energy company, we continue to monitor very closely the human rights situation
in Myanmar as it relates to the Yadana project. Total has had an ongoing
presence in Myanmar and has developed strong, positive relationships with the
villages in the vicinity of the pipeline route.
In May of this year, an experienced Unocal environmental/ project
analyst conducted a first-hand review of the pipeline route -- including the
villages in its immediate vicinity -- and found no evidence of human rights
violations in connection with the natural gas project. We uncovered no
instances of forced labor, village relocations or land seizures relating to the
Total, which maintains staff and field offices in Myanmar, conducted a
similar evaluation earlier this year and again found no evidence of human
rights abuses related to the Yadana project. These two recent in-field reviews
were in addition to two fact-finding missions conducted in 1994, neither of
which revealed any evidence of human rights violations involving this project.
Because of Myanmar's current political situation, there are those who
would prefer we abandon our project, thereby helping isolate the nation in the
hope of compelling democratic reforms. We believe such a move would be
counter-productive and would hurt the very people it was designed to help.
With regard to the role of American business abroad, we share President
Clinton's view that he expressed late last year in a major foreign policy
"I don't think we have to choose between increasing trade and fostering human
rights and open societies. Experience shows us over and over again that
commerce can promote cooperation; that more prosperity helps to open societies
to the world; and that the more societies are open the more they understand
that maximizing freedom and prosperity can go hand in hand".
The Benefits of Energy Development
Historically, energy development has had a positive impact on people's
lives, regardless of a country's internal politics. Energy development builds
economies, improves living standards and stimulates social reform. At Unocal,
we have learned this through direct experience.
Over the past 30 years, we've seen our activities improve the quality of
life for thousands of local families and communities in Indonesia, the
Philippines, Thailand and other developing countries. our projects have
created good high-wage jobs, fostered new technologies, provided educational and
skills training, and helped establish new industries in these countries. They
have also improved health, safety and environmental practices.
We anticipate that the Yadana pipeline project will have the same
beneficial impact. our involvement in a prior exploration project onshore
Myanmar, for example, created about 2,000 well-paying jobs, improved access to
high- quality health care and taught local workers new job skills. These are
the tangible benefits that foreign investment can bring to the people of
Villagers living in the vicinity of the pipeline route have expressed
to us their optimism about the opportunities this project represents,
particularly those for employment and for community and human development.
Myanmar's neighbors support the project as well. They understand that
bringing all nations into the economic fabric of the region is the best way to
promote the expansion of democratic principles.
The enclosed brochure provides further details about the Yadana pipeline
project including our "Statement of Principles", which outlines our
corporate-wide commitment to safeguarding human rights and the local
All of us at Unocal are very proud of the international reputation for
integrity and high ethical standards that the company has earned. We can
assure you that we will continue conducting our business in a manner that will
uphold that reputation.