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J. Crew Leaves Burma
Reply-To: "W. Kesavatana-Dohrs" <dohrs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
FREE BURMA COALITION
email: zni@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Website: http://wicip.org/fbc/
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
J. CREW DROPS BURMA
STOPS WORK IN MILITARY-OWNED FACTORY
JANUARY 20, 1997--NEW YORK--J. Crew, a $750 million apparel manufacturer
and retailer with 80 stores in 25 states, is terminating its operations in
the Southeast Asian dictatorship of Burma (Myanmar). The decision is due
to numerous requests from customers, according to Diane Chang, J. Crew's
Vice President of manufacturing.
J. Crew had been working with Yangon Knit Garment Manufacturing Co., Ltd.
which is substantially owned by the Burmese junta's Ministry of Industry.
The Ministry is headed by Lt.-General Sein Aung, a member of the ruling
State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC).
"This is yet another sign that the SLORC is bad for business" says Zarni,
coordinator of the US-based Free Burma Coalition. Ò"s long as there is no
change in the deplorable political and human rights situation, and no
change in the corrupt practices of the generals, business conditions will
remain intolerable" he adds. Even hard-nosed financial player Peregrine
Investment Holdings of Hong Kong has fled from Burma, saying that promised
privatization "has not materialized."
Other companies leaving Burma in the past six months include Kodak, Apple
Computer, Hewlett Packard, Heineken, Wente Vineyards, Carlsberg, Motorola
and Walt Disney.
"We want Burma to be free and prosperous. (But) until we have a system
that guarantees rule of law and basic democratic institutions, no amount
of aid or investment will benefit our people," says Burmese democracy
leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
A European Commission investigation concluded in December that the SLORC
is systematically using forced labor in Burma, and called for the
withholding of GSP privileges for products from Burma.
The US blocks Burmese access to International Monetary Fund and World Bank
loans because of SLORC's noncooperation in counternarcotics efforts.
Burma produces more opium and heroin than the rest of the world combined.
US Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics Affairs Robert
Gelbard wrote in the November 14 Far Eastern Economic Review "SLORC is
protecting the drug trade and flaunting its defiance of international
"This is not a place where even responsible companies can do clean
business" says Zarni, adding that the US Embassy in Burma concluded in a
July, 1996 report "It seems likely that a large share of the garments of
Burmese origin recently imported into the United States may have been
produced by factories owned at least in part by (SLORC) or by individuals
or firms whose wealth originally derived chiefly from the opiates sector."
Companies still in Burma include Ralph Lauren, Unocal, PepsiCo, Texaco,
ARCO, Mitsui and Mitsubishi.
CONTACT: Zarni, Free Burma Coalition, 608-233-2199
Dr. Sein Win, National Coalition Government of the Union of