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US Company Cuts Ties to Burmese Dru

Subject: US Company Cuts Ties to Burmese Drug Lord (fwd)



November 15--Livermore, CA--Just a week after a boycott was called by an
international coalition of activist groups, Wente Vineyards of Livermore
has announced that it has suspended its business in Burma. 

	The company statement, released on November 11, said "Wente
Vineyards shares the concern of US government officials and human rights
organizations regarding allegations of human rights abuses by the
government of Myanmar (formerly Burma) and heroin exports from that
country to the US.  Due to its concern, Wente decided... to suspend any
further promotional activity in or shipments to Burma."

	"We will not consider resuming any business activities in Burma
until the situation clarifies and improves" said Wente VP John Schwartz. 

	Wente's distribution arrangement with Burma-based Asia World
Company had been the focus of the boycott.  Asia World is chaired by Lo
Hsing Han, called "one of Southeast Asia's leading heroin traffickers" by
the Washington Post.  Asia World's managing director is Steven Law, Lo
Hsing Han's son.  Law has been denied a visa to the United States under a
law which bars entry to people suspected of involvement in the drug trade,
according to press reports. 

	The Wente statement noted that Asia World also does business with
Singapore-based Tiger Breweries and Shangri-La Hotels, as well as the
United Distillers group. 

	In an article published in The Journal of Commerce in July, Wente
export manager Jeff Teckle had waxed enthusiastic about Burma "crawling
with foreign tourists and especially business people."

	"We're pleased that Wente has changed its tune" said Free Burma
Coalition spokesman Larry Dohrs.  "It's clear that responsible businesses
will not have anything to do with those involved in heroin trafficking." 
A demonstration planned for this weekend was called off, and the boycott
has ended, Dohrs added. 

	The close relationship between drug traffickers and Burma's ruling
military leaders has come under increased scrutiny by the State Department
and investigative journalists. 

	"This is just the tip of the iceberg" says Dohrs.

Contact:  Larry Dohrs, Free Burma Coalition, 206-784-5742.