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press release for Doe and Benson v.

Reply-To: "W. Kesavatana-Dohrs" <dohrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: press release for Doe and Benson v. Unocal, SLORC, Imle 


DATE: Thursday, October 3, 1996              
TIME: 10:30AM
LOCATION: 128 North Fair Oaks Avenue, Suite 204
          Pasadena, California
CONTACTS: Dan Stormer (818) 585-9600
          Jennie Green and Tyler Giannini (212) 614-6431


     Victims of rape, forced labor, forced relocation, assaults,
and the death of family members today sued the multinational oil
companies Unocal (El Segundo, CA) and Total (France), together with
their joint venture partners, the military junta in Burma, the
State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) and the SLORC-controlled petroleum company, Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE). 
The victims also sued two of Unocal's top executives, John Imle and
Roger Beach, for their complicity in the project and the abuses
surrounding it.  The Burmese victims are joined by Louisa Benson,
a representative of the Karen National Union, and now a California
taxpayer who is suing the members of the joint enterprise for
unfair business practices in California.  The Karen are one of the
ethnic minority groups affected by the pipeline project.

     The plaintiffs are represented by a coalition of human rights
organizations and private attorneys.  The plaintiffs seek a halt to
the violence, a disgorgement of the unlawful profits obtained by
Unocal, and compensation for the egregious and despicable conduct
of defendants. The case charges SLORC, the oil companies, and the
executives with legal responsibility for violations of
international human rights prohibitions against forced labor and
crimes against humanity, torture, including rape, and unlawful

     The Yadana natural gas pipeline project was established by
Unocal, Total, and MOGE to build a pipeline from the Yadana field,
a natural gas resource off the coast of Burma, to Thailand.  The
pipeline route goes through the Tenasserim region, an area where a
number of indigenous groups live.  The oil companies have worked
with the SLORC military and intelligence forces who have relocated
whole villages, forced farmers living in the area of the proposed
pipeline to provide in their labor for the pipeline, as well as
stole their property.  SLORC's methods have included brutal human
rights abuses such as killing members of families, beatings, rapes,
threatened rapes, and other torture.

     The despicable conduct includes the brutalizing of a mother,
who, while nursing her baby was kicked by a SLORC officer into a
fire, the baby was burned and when SLORC soldiers prevented the
baby from obtaining medical assistance, the baby died.  Other
plaintiffs were raped, beaten, brutalized and otherwise tortured. 
Plaintiff Benson, a former Burmese citizen, stated, "This conduct
is despicable by any standards.  It is not acceptable to allow the
companies to profit through human misery."  Tyler Giannini, co-director of EarthRights International stated, "This detention,
torture, and death must stop.  SLORC's oppressive policies must

     Jennie Green, staff attorney with the Center for
Constitutional Rights, charged the companies with profiting from
forced labor:  "Unocal and Total have entered into a unholy
alliance with a military regime whose brutal human rights record is
internationally notorious."  Added Dan Stormer of Hadsell & Stormer
"Multinational corporations must be held accountable for their
complicity in violations of basic human rights, and with this
lawsuit we intend to do just that."

     The plaintiffs are represented by the Center for
Constitutional Rights, the Law Offices of Hadsell & Stormer, Paul
Hoffmann, and EarthRights International.  At the Press Conference,
Ms. Green, Mr. Stormer, and Ms. Benson, as well as others, will be
available for comment.