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Burma oil campaign


Introducing the new campaign...

 FREE BURMA: No Petro-dollars for SLORC


Following you will find the text to our Rhot off the pressesS
Boycott Unocal brochure. The Free Burma: No Petro-dollars for
SLORC campaign incorporates public advocacy and grass roots
organizing to challenge and pressure foreign oil companies to
withdraw from Burma while it is under the control of the State Law
and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). These oil companies provide
one of the largest sources of income to SLORC, helping the junta
maintain its power.

The campaign was spearheaded by a call for help from the ethnic
nationalities living in the Tenasserim area where foreign oil
companies are developing gas pipeline projects. The Karen, Mon,
and Tavoy peoples are the victims of human rights abuses such as
forced relocation, forced labor, pillaging, rape and torture by
SLORC troops securing the pipeline area.

The campaign primarily focuses on two different gas pipeline
projects operated by 1.) Total (France)/Unocal (USA) and 2.)
Texaco (USA), Nippon Oil (Japan) and Premier (UK) in the Southern
Burma/Tenasserim watershed. The pipeline area also contains some
of mainland Southeast Asia's last intact rainforests. The campaign
will also focus on Arco's new contract for oil/gas exploration in
the Andaman Sea.

THE CAMPAIGN'S CURRENT OBJECTIVE is to escalate public attention
and pressure on these oil corporations. We are seeking to enlist a
diverse set of groups - including human rights, labor, religious,
environmental, student, legal, and many others - to work on the
Burma oil issue.

We are hoping that YOU will become involved and assist us with
this campaign.  Available for outreach and leafleting in your area
are the complete Unocal brochure with graphics and photos, bumper
stickers that read "Free Burma, Boycott Texaco" and "Free Burma,
Boycott Unocal," 3 sq. in. stickers reading "Texaco - Starring in
Burma Slavery," and round 2" stickers reading "Unocal 76 - Making
a Burma Killing," as well as t-shirts. An activist packet
detailing ways to work on the issue in your local area and
brochures on Texaco, Arco, and Total are coming soon. We ask only
for a donation based on postage for brochures, and cost for
stickers and t-shirts.

You may CONTACT US by email (freeburma@xxxxxxx), fax or phone for
more information and materials. Read on for more information for
the text of the Unocal brochure. Next week the Unocal brochure it
in its entirety with graphics and photographs will be posted on
the International Rivers Network web page - http.//www.irn.org.

Please join us in pressuring these oil companies to withdraw their
operations from Burma and to stop supporting the illegal regime!

Thank you,

Pamela Wellner Campaign Coordinator

Free Burma: No Petro-dollars for SLORC a project of the
International Rivers Network 1847 Berkeley Way Berkeley, CA 94703

Tel: 510-848-1155 Fax: 510-848-1008 email: freeburma@xxxxxxx


FREE BURMA! - Boycott Unocal -

Unocal 76 is involved in a natural gas venture with one of the
world's most brutal and repressive military regimes, Burma's State
Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). SLORC has been
condemned by the U.S. Congress, the U.S. State Department, the
European Parliament, the United Nations Human Rights Commission,
the International Labor Organization, Amnesty International, and
ten Nobel Laureates. Oil corporations are one of the largest
sources of income for the SLORC regime, helping them maintain a
reign of terror.


In February 1995, Unocal signed a contract with SLORC to extract
and transport natural gas using a pipeline from the Yadana Field
located 43 miles off Burma's coast. The field is estimated to have
a market value of $6.5 billion. Unocal is a 28.26 percent
shareholder in this project. Its other project partners include
Total of France with 31.24 percent, the Petroleum Authority of
Thailand Exploration and Production Public Co. Ltd. with 25.5
percent, and the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) with 15
percent.  Unocal's current net share of payments to SLORC to gain
the concession is about $10 million. Unocal and its partners will
get $400 million annually from Thailand for the gas.


The gas pipeline will run for 218 miles, of which 41 miles cross
southern Burma's Tenasserim division on the way to Thailand. The
gas pipeline will go through a variety of ecosystems including
dense tropical forest, disrupting the habitat of rare animals such
as tigers, rhinos and elephants. The pipeline area is the homeland
of the Karen, Mon and Tavoy peoples. This venture is currently
linked to forced village relocation, the forced labor of tens of
thousands of local inhabitants, and fatalities at the hands of the
SLORC troops.  This entire region is a war zone due to the ethnic
peoples' need to defend themselves against SLORC attacks, making
the region highly unstable.


Pillaging, Torture and Rape

The Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) and the Human Rights
Foundation of Monland both monitor and report on human right
violations in the Karen and Mon areas of Burma. Both groups have
collected the testimony of hundreds of Karen and Mon villagers,
exposing a litany of heinous acts by SLORC troops linked to the
construction of ancillary pipeline infrastructure.  Local people
tell of those too sick to work being beaten and tortured, forced
portering (carrying supplies), looting of homes and food supplies,
rape, and even murder for resisting orders. Despite these human
rights abuses, Unocal denies any responsibility and refuses to
suspend operations until an independent investigation confirms the

Forced Relocation

Since 1991, at least 12 Karen and Mon villages were moved by SLORC
to make way for battalion stations and Unocal/Total's field
headquarters. In 1995, at least 12 Light Infantry Battalions (LIB)
conducted major military offenses in an attempt to secure the
eastern half of the route. Each battalion contains 300-500
soldiers. Eight battalions are located near one village alone
which houses many of the oil company workers. Villagers whose land
was taken or whose entire town was relocated were never

Forced Labor

Because the area contains few roads suitable for large trucks and
heavy traffic, SLORC began building and improving roads and
railways using the labor of unpaid villagers. SLORC troops invade
peaceful villages demanding men, women and children to work for at
least two week shifts. These people are taken from their homes,
ordered to bring their own food, clothing and blankets, and
brought to road and railway construction sites where they live in
unsanitary conditions with little food, clean water and no medical
treatment. Families that fail to provide workers are fined, often
the equivalent of their yearly income. Men and women are forced to
break rocks and carry dirt to build railways, trenches, and roads
for the pipeline security forces, and made to cut trees for lumber
to build military bases. As a result people are dying of beatings,
malnutrition, sickness and starvation.

Some of the most extensive forced labor and abuses occur at the
Ye-Tavoy railway, where over 100,000 people have been forced to
work. It is widely thought that this railway will be used to bring
equipment and more troops to the area. Unocal claims they will not
use the railway for the pipeline development, but they do not deny
that SLORC battalions will use the railway, with whom Unocal has
contracted to provide security for the pipeline.

In April 1996, the KHRG announced that forced labor is occurring
on the pipeline itself. Villagers are taken by SLORC troops to
build "pipeline roads," which will run alongside the pipe. The
troops tell the people they will be paid, but this rarely happens.
Villagers are not only forced to work with no compensation they
are also forced to pay fees described as "porter fees",
"development funds", "railway and pipeline fees" to every military
camp. Reprecht von Arnim, United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees in Thailand, stated in the Asian Wall Street Journal, "I
I know slave labor has been used for other purposes, and once the
gas pipeline is to start, it is most likely that it will be done
the same way."

Violence directly related to the pipeline

In reference to threats by the Karen and Mon armies, who are
trying to protect their people, Unocal president John Imle said:
"If you threaten the pipeline, there's going to be more military.
If forced labor goes hand in glove with military, yes, there will
be more forced labor. For every threat to the pipeline there will
be a reaction." According to the KHRG, on February 2, 1996, an
unknown armed group, using rocket launchers, killed four people
near Total's field office. In retaliation, SLORC battalion LIB 403
executed eleven Karen civilians. SLORC accused the villagers of
supporting the attackers. Other villagers were told by the
battalion that they would come back and kill more people if Total
was informed of the retribution. Unocal continues to deny its
connection to these types of summary executions and human rights
violations, and maintains there will be only benefits for the
local people.

Company Claims: Insult to Injury

The corporations boast that the project will bring employment,
education and training, health care and useful technology to
thousands of people. Unocal, in consultation with Total, claims to
be implementing projects such as free medical services,
agricultural assistance, and to be paying fair wages for pipeline

The KHRG reports that sometimes the oil companies give wage money
for the villagers to SLORC commanders who pocket the money. In
very few cases the villagers are paid directly by the oil

The minuscule amount of assistance by the oil companies pales when
compared to the amount of strife affecting the Mon, Karen and
Tavoy people due to the endless cycle of military-induced abuses
in the area. The Karen, Mon and Tavoyans are seeking refuge in
Thailand because of the forced labor and other SLORC brutalities.
This transient and impoverished lifestyle is preferred over that
of one where SLORC poses a constant danger. There is little the
oil companies can give to compensate for or replace the livelihood
the local people once had.

Environmental Ruin

Exploration, development and production of natural gas has similar
risks as oil extraction activities. Impacts from gas exploitation
include dumping toxic drilling muds (including radioactive
materials), air pollution from drilling rigs, and releases of
toxic chemicals such as hydrogen sulfide into the sea and air.

The ecology of the pipeline area is very diverse, ranging from
coastal wetlands to one of the last mountainous dense tropical
forests in Burma. Just south of the pipeline area, also in the
Tenassarim watershed, the Karen have established a protected
wildlife sanctuary which contains tigers, rhinoceros, elephants
and other rare species.

Unocal and Total have not publicly released any environmental
assessment study. Projected environmental impacts from the
pipeline include destruction to wetlands and mangrove ecosystems,
forest clearing, fragmentation of habitat and disruption of
biological corridors, establishment of logging concessions, and
increased poaching of endangered species.

Burma's Struggle for Democracy

In the late 1980s a growing democracy movement gained widespread
support from the entire spectrum of Burmese society, including its
diverse ethnic nationalities. People took to the streets to
demonstrate for democracy, but the military retaliated in the
summer of 1988 by gunning down thousands of civilians. Soon
afterward the military announced that the State Law and Order
Restoration Council would rule the country. Years of ruthless and
violent repression against all citizens have been the result.  On
May 27, 1990, SLORC held elections and the National League for
Democracy (NLD) gained 80 percent of the seats. SLORC nullified
the election results and placed NLD leaders under arrest,
including Aung San Suu Kyi. In 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi won the
Nobel Peace Prize, but remained a prisoner under house arrest
until her release in July of 1995. Despite Ms. Suu Kyi's release,
which many hoped would spark an improvement in human rights
standards, widespread political repression, human rights abuses,
abject poverty, forced labor, and summary executions continue

The Ethics and Economics of Investing

SLORC has made the economy a shambles, strengthened its civil war
against the ethnic nationalities, and turned Burma into a United
Nations "Least Developed Country" (LDC). SLORC rapaciously
exploits natural resources and sells them to foreign interests,
which keeps the regime propped up and further impoverishes the
ethnic nationalities. Most foreign revenue is derived from natural
gas and oil reserves.

Investment and business ethics analysts argue that doing business
with SLORC surpasses the threshold of ethical business guidelines.
According to Richard DeGeorge, director of the International
Center for Ethics in Business at the University of Kansas, "One of
the guidelines I would put out is that a company should not
knowingly cooperate with any supplier, government or other
enterprise that engages in slavery, slave labor, or even child
labor.  Saying,'We know they're doing it, but we're not doing it',
doesn't let you off the hook. If you know it's being done, you're
ethically responsible for it. It's your responsibility to mitigate
the harm they're doing to those people. They can't simply be

Many economists believe that investment in Burma is just bad
business. Recent reports by the International Monetary Fund and
the World Bank cited in The Economist (4/6/96), conclude that
neither Burma's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) nor its agricultural
output have reached the previous levels of the mid-1980s

North American Companies

Not all companies choose to remain in the dark about SLORC's
abuses. Liz Claiborne, Macy's, Eddie Bauer, Reebok, Levi-Strauss,
Amoco and Petro-Canada have all withdrawn their operations.
Levi-Strauss pulled out in 1992, stating, "... under current
circumstances, it is not possible to do business in Myanmar
without directly supporting the military government and its
pervasive violations of human rights." Unocal's slogan is "We Get
It." While this may be true when it comes to bathrooms at gas
stations, they clearly don't "Get It" when it comes to human
rights and democracy.

Burma: The South Africa of the 90s

During a 1993 visit to Thailand with six other Nobel Laureates to
call for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, Archbishop Desmond Tutu
said, "International pressure can change the situation in Burma.
Tough sanctions, not'constructive engagement', finally brought the
release of Nelson Mandela and the dawn of a new era in my country.
This is the language that must be spoken with tyrantsQfor sadly,
this the only language they understand."

"These people are hurrying in to make cosy business deals while
pretending that nothing is wrong," Aung San Suu Kyi told The Times
Magazine.  "They need to be reminded that this is one of the most
brutal military regimes in the world and putting money into the
country now is Jsimply supporting a system that is severely
harmful to the people of Burma."

The exile National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma
elected in 1990 and many of the ethnic nationalities have called
upon the world community to impose economic and arms sanctions
against SLORC. In support of Burma's democracy movement, we call
on Unocal/Total to withdraw their shares in the gas pipeline
project. We ask that all corporations not engage in any business
in Burma until a democratic government is in place. Foreign
revenue only lines the pockets of SLORC officials and helps keep
the brutal regime in power.

What you can do

% Write or call the CEOs of Unocal and Total. Tell them to
withdraw from Burma

% Don't invest in Unocal or Total stock, or sell your stock and
tell them why

% Don't buy Union 76 or Total gas and other products and tell them

% Cut up your credit card and send it back to Unocal or Total,
tell them why.

% Send $5.00 for our activist's packet to become more involved.
Send to IRN, 1847 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94703.

% Help support our effort by donating funds to IRN's Burma

% Join the Free Burma Coalition. Call 608-256-6572 or email:

Send letters and cut-up charge cards to:

Roger Beach, CEO / Unocal Corporation / 2141 Rosecrans Blvd.,
Suite 4000 / El Segundo, CA 90245 / Tel: 310-726-7600

Gary Jones, CEO / Total North America / Total Tower, 900 19th
Street / Denver, CO 80202 / Tel: 303-291-2000