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BurmaNet News January 29, 1997
- Subject: BurmaNet News January 29, 1997
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 29 Jan 1997 05:48:00
------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"
The BurmaNet News: January 29, 1997
KNU: MASSIVE RAID ON KAREN REFUGEE CAMPS
NCGUB: WAT PROK BANGKOK RAIDED
THE NATION: SLORC JAILS 14 FOR ROLE IN STUDENT UNREST
DAASK: NOVEMBER 21, 1996 INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT
THE NATION: EU MAINTAINS BURMA AID DESPITE BREAK IN
L.A. TIMES: PEPSICO TO SEVER ALL TIES WITH MYANMAR
LA TIMES: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - STATE SANCTIONS - BURMA
ANNOUNCEMENT: RE - E-MAILING THE VOLUNTEER DESK
KNU: MASSIVE RAID ON KAREN REFUGEE CAMPS
January 29, 1997
FLASH NEWS No. 1
from Karen National Union Information Center
On 28 January 1997, 3 refugee camps with a total of 36,000 people were set on fire and largely destroyed by an unknown Burmese speaking armed group. These 3 destroyed camps are Huay Kaloke (Wangka), Don Pa Kiang (Huai Bok), and Mae La (Bae Glaw) camps, a
ll of which are located on the Thai-Burma border north of Mae Sot. The number of casualties is not known yet.
Huai Kaloke Camp - A Preliminary Report:
At about 10:00 pm 28 January 1997 (Thai standard time), an unknown armed group of about 100 men speaking Burmese entered Huai Kaloke refugee camp and set it on fire. This camp is 5 kilometers inside Thailand, about 11 kilometers north of Mae Sot, and 100
meters from a Thai military checkpoint. How this group evaded Thai security and got into the camp is not yet known, however the exit was right through the checkpoint. The following is a personal account of D. M. who escaped.
The camp leaders were informed of the attack about 15 minutes before the whole camp was set on fire beginning in the marketplace. Accoring to the inhabitants, the intruders entered the shops in the market which was a little distance away from the main ca
mp. After they looted everything from the shops, they fired shots to give the signal to start burning the camp. The only clinic in the area, which was set up by Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF), was ransacked and all the supplies and equipment were taken.
Then the clinic was set on fire. One section after another was set on fire. Finally only the monastery, section 7, and half of section 2 were left untouched. The 6 other sections were razed. A TOTAL OF ABOUT 5000 OF THE 6729 PEOPLE ARE HOMELESS AND D
Mae La Camp:
According to reports from Mae La Camp (population 25,322), the invaders and camp residents are still engaged in an armed battle. Casualties are expected, but the numbers are not yet known.
Don Pa Kiang Camp:
Reports from Don Pa Kiang Camp (population 3827) indicate that the camp has been totally burned to the ground.
Karen National Union Information Center
NCGUB: WAT PROK BANGKOK RAIDED
January 28, 1997
Thai Immigration police raid Wat Prok (Mon Monastery), Bangkok
At 5:00 pm of January 28, 1997, about ten Thai Immigration policemen
with two trucks raided Wat Prok in Yanawa, Bangkok and arrested about 70 Mon including about 30 novices staying in the monastery. Most of the arrested
people had lived in the Thai-Burma border for long time and currently
studying at Thai Hugh Schools in Bangkok. There were about 40 students
including Mon girls at the monastery at the time of raid. They all were
charged with illegal entry to Thailand and later taken to immigration
Detention Center in Bangkok.
Immigration police sealed off the monastery until mid-night and investigated
every people. They searched all the rooms in the building and some rooms
were locked after searching. The abbot of the monestery was also taken to
immigration department for questioning.
Wat Prok is the Mon monastery in Bangkok and a historic place where
General Aung San and his thirty comrades formed Burma Independence Army and took blood oath in Bangkok.
THE NATION: SLORC JAILS 14 FOR ROLE IN STUDENT UNREST
January 29, 1997 AFP
Burma's military authorities yesterday said 14 people, including five
members of Aung San Suu Kyi's main opposition party, have been found guilty
of provoking students during protests last month.
Burmese intelligence said in a statement the 14 were sentenced under the
Emergency Act of 1950 after being "found guilty of provoking students and
throwing rocks at security personnel during the unrest last December."
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, contacted over telephone from Bangkok,
said the sentences were a sham since the trials were not made public and the
accused were denied access to proper counsel.
"I don't for a moment believe that they were found guilty since they were
obviously tried in-camera," she said. "The fact that they were tried
in-camera ... indicates that they were not guilty."
The Burmese military statement, which did not specify how long the sentences
were or when they were handed down, said five of the 14 were members of Aung San Suu Kyi's National league for Democracy (NLD) and that none were students.
The minimum jail term handed down under the country's tough emergency act is usually seven years, although sentences can be much higher.
Suu Kyi said the NLD had not been informed about the sentences and was
unaware the trials had taken place.
"They don't tell us or the families anything," she said. "If the evidence
against them was strong, there would be all the more reason that they should
be tried in public," she added.
The opposition leader has frequently criticised the summary trials carried
out by the Burmese military and its failure to inform families of trials and
judgements - as well allow for independent defence lawyers.
Trials for violations of the country's draconian public security laws - as
well as for many criminal cases - are secretly held and the accused are
forced to accept counsel provided by the state.
Suu Kyi said she doubted that non of the 14 were students since a large
number had been picked up following the unrest in December.
Yesterday's announcement came just 19 days after 20 people were handed seven
year sentences for taking part in the wave of student protests which brought
a security clampdown in Rangoon and the deployment of tanks downtown. (TN)
DAASK: NOVEMBER 21, 1996 INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT
January 28, 1997 (slightly abridged)
Following is a transcript of the Daw Aung San Suu Kyi interview of
November 21, 1996 regarding US sanctions, policy, foreign investment,
selective purchasing laws and dialogue with the SLORC.
Could you please tell us, what is the NLD position regarding requests for United
Well, we think that conditional sanctions are a very good idea, but the time is
fast coming when probably the worsening conditions that were mentioned for an
amendment will really be a fact.
In your view what do you think would be necessary to happen in terms of signs of repression for the Cohen-Feinstein Legislation to be implemented?
More arrests of key members of the NLD, more acts of repression against NLD
officers and supporters of the democracy movement, more acts of violence
instigated either by the authorities or by the USDA; I think that should really
be the signal for sanctions to take off.
Does the NLD's call for sanctions by the United States or other Western
countries impede the prospect of dialogue with the government?
This is what the government seems to be hinting at: that it's because we are
calling for sanctions that they have not entered dialogue. But we cannot accept
that explanation, because they did not do anything towards entering into
dialogue, even in the days when we were very careful not to call for sanctions
and we were very restrained because we wanted to keep the door open. So I think that for the authorities to say now that calling for sanctions will prevent
dialogue is just a ploy to stop us calling for sanctions. I think it's got to be
the other way around. Dialogue first, before we stop our call for sanctions.
Well, in that regard, has there been any progress recently towards establishing
a forum for dialogue in the last few weeks?
No, not at all.
Has the NLD itself tried to make any other efforts of saying to the government. . [word missing].?
We make efforts all the time. We're making constant efforts to start dialogue,
but you know, it takes two. A dialogue requires two sides. We don't want a
The government is saying that the only appropriate forum for a dialogue between any political party or ethnic people and the government is the national
convention. What do you say to that?
That's absolute nonsense. The national convention is not a place where any kind
of dialogue can take place. It's simply a forum for reading off of papers that
have already been censored and approved of by the authorities.
So what would a genuine dialogue that would be more appropriate be for the NLD?
It's got to be a substantive political dialogue between the SLORC and political
leaders including myself and leaders of ethnic groups, exactly as stipulated in
the General Assembly resolution on Burma.
What is your response to the idea that developing the market oriented economy
speeds the process of democratization?
Developing a market oriented economy in the right way, would of course, help the process of democratization, but not the kind of market economy that grossly
favors the elite and the kind of open market economy that is only open to some
and not to others. What we have in Burma now is not an open market economy.
It's more what you would call "crony capitalism".
How would the imposition of sanctions from the United States or other Western
countries impact the population in Burma?
I don't think the public in general would be affected, because, so far, the kind
of investments that have come in have benefited the public very little indeed.
If you have been in Burma long enough you will be aware of the fact that a small
elite has grown up which is extremely wealthy. Perhaps they would be affected.
But my concern is not with them, but with the general public. And I think I can
say with absolute confidence that the general public of Burma would be very
little affected, if at all, by sanctions.
Would it in political terms, then, have an impact on impeding democratic reform in terms of how the government will perceive the response from those types of impositions from western governments?
No, I do not think so, as this government has not really done much towards
democratic reform, you can not say that sanctions would in any way impede
progress toward democratic reform.
Hasn't it in some manner - the market oriented economy - hasn't it benefited
the population of Burma?
It has benefited some people. . . very few. And since the so-called open market
economy has come in, the vast population of Burma is poorer if anything at all,
because standards of health and education have fallen, and conditions in the
rural areas are worse off then they have ever been. So I don't see how you can
equate the so-called open market economy adopted by SLORC with development of the country.
What about the Ronald Reagan phrase, "trickle-down" economic benefit, towards less enriched sectors of the population. For example, with the tourism industry, taxi drivers, and people that serve clienteles in the hotels and so forth.
Of course there is a trickle-down effect, we cannot deny that. But the trickle
is a very, very small trickle. And it's dissipated very easily.
The government seems to have a response of apparent indifference towards the
measures that have already been taken by the European Union and the impending measures by the United States. Do you think that they have a reaction apart from what seems to be a nonchalance?
Well, if they are totally indifferent to those measures, why do they say that
it's because of our call for sanctions that dialogue has been obstructed?
In economic terms, for the government being operable, what is the measurable
impact of sanctions from Western nations, when the collective investment of them would not be enough to actually, sort of, stop the economy, as it were?
It's not a matter of stopping the economy. What the sanctions do is to make
people understand that you cannot exercise repression in this country and, at
the same time, expect international support as well. Although people say that
western sanctions will not make much of a difference because a lot of the
businesses which are investing in Burma are not from the West, a lot of those
businesses intend to export to the West, and so those businesses will be
affected. And Western sanctions will have a considerable effect on the eagerness
of people to invest in Burma, which, in another way of putting it is, it will
have an affect on how far non-western countries would like to go to support the
policies of SLORC.
There has been some talk that in fact, the European Union and the United States
are both waiting for one another to make a move in order for them to go forward with a move for more definitive sanctions against the government of Burma. Does this dynamic have an impact in relation to Western governments to ASEAN? In other words, do yo
u think there would be ASEAN investors, potential investors, that perhaps would hesitate more if there were stronger sanctions. . .?
Oh, certainly. Stronger sanctions from Western countries would certainly make
ASEAN investors hesitate a great deal.
Would sanctions be more effective if the United Nations as an international
entity took an active role in calling for UN sanctions based on resolutions?
Certainly. A United-Nations-supported sanctions move would be very, very
effective because it would, in effect, mean that the whole international community was in favor of such sanctions.
In the United States, there have been some states such as Massachusetts, that
have chosen to have selective purchasing forms of sanctions whereby they won't
do business as a state government with businesses that deal with Burma. Is this
an effective means of speeding democratization?
Yes, very much so! Consumer power. And it's good to know that the people of
different countries are really concerned and involved in the movement to bring
democracy to Burma. I think in some ways it's better to have the *people* of the
world on your side, rather than the governments of the world, even if the
governments can be more effective in certain directions.
Would the NLD like to see more individual states within the United States try to
draft such forms of selective purchasing acts?
Very much so. The more the better. [smiling]
And in what ways do you think that the American public could be more cognizant of the situation in Burma? What types of information do you think that they would need if they would like to lobby their elected officials to enact such things?
They would need to know more about what's actually going on in Burma: how very few rights the Burmese people have; how there is misrule of law -- constant misrule of law; how members of the NLD are subjected to tremendous injustice and oppression; how w
e, how the majority of our people are forced to live in fear and insecurity.
Could you explain the SLORC's current economic situation in the country in terms of the limited foreign reserves that they've got and in what ways that will
affect their continued operation as a government as well as impact on the
living standards of the people.
Well, the living standards of the people have never really benefited from
whatever economic measures the SLORC has taken. Because of the rampant
inflation, living standards have been dropping for the great majority of the
population. We understand now that government has what one would call a
"liquidity problem", that is to say, they don't have much money in the treasury.
Obviously, that is going to affect the situation of the country. As far as we have been aware, the government does not spend that much money in any case on such essentials as health and education, which are indicators of the degree of
development of a country. So, if they have a liquidity problem, and there is
very little money available, one will have to come to the conclusion, that the
development of the country will be further impeded. I doubt that they will spend
what little they have on the health and education of the general public. One has
to feel very greatly that this will go to shoring up their own authority.
Is it your understanding that the current administration, the re-elected Clinton
administration, perceives the situation in Burma as serious to rank high enough
in terms of foreign affairs that they must address under Clinton's newly elected
We are hopeful that they consider the situation in Burma serious enough to be
considered. . . "seriously". [smiling]
As I'm sure you're aware, President Clinton will be traveling to Bangkok, your
neighboring city, this coming weekend.
What kinds of things would you like to apprise him of if you could, sort of,
indirectly have a chance to have an audience with him, or a briefing, what kind
of things would you like to apprise him of?
I'm sure he's already been briefed of the situation in Burma. It would be most
surprising if he has not been briefed on what is happening in Burma when he is
about to visit Thailand, such a very close neighbor, and such a very important
member of the ASEAN organization. I'm sure he is aware of the very latest
developments in Burma, and of the fact that change is necessary if we are to
break out of this present political impasse, which is not doing any good, either
to our people, or even to SLORC, if they imagine that it is better off as it is now.
The recent attack on yourself and your colleagues two weekends ago, isn't that
type of incident a "serious enough" incident in terms of the manifest of
repression in terms of the security of the NLD and its members?
Very much so, it is of course, very serious. But, on the other hand, we would
not like it to appear as though we consider our personal safety and personal
security as far more serious than the safety and security of the people in
general. So, rather than take this as, as it were, the sign of the worsened
conditions that one talks of in relation to sanctions, I would like people to
. . . *watch*. . . and to study the situation, and to decide that if there are more arrests of key members of the NLD and more repression of the movement for democracy, then that would be the time for sanction to come in. I do not like to encourage pers
onalized politics, as it were. So we would not like it to be thought that just because certain political *personalities* were attacked, that this means the situation's very grave. The gravity of the situation comes from the fact that ordinary members o
f the NLD are repressed all the time. What we want is a healthy political organization, which is allowed to function freely. We don't want a political organization that has been completely paralyzed, and only a few of the select leaders are protected by
You've received news of further arrests of party members. Would you like to
explain that a bit?
Well, we have heard that one of our key party members, a member of the CWC, was arrested yesterday evening, and that also a key NLD member from the Kayah State was arrested. I'm not quite sure exactly when he was arrested. We want to see whether they we
re just called in for questioning, or whether they are going to be actually detained for a longer period. We want to investigate further. If they have been detained -- if they are going to be tried or sentenced to
prison, then I think that this would constitute a very, very serious infringement
of the rights of the NLD to function. I would say that this would constitute a
move serious enough to be considered a reason for bringing in sanctions.
The attack last week, it has been rumored, as rumors fly about Rangoon, that in
fact, the alleged two factions within the SLORC, one of them was behind it and
the other one had no knowledge of that -- the attack on the entourage of your
cars. Would you like to comment on that, what you know about that, and if you,
in fact, think there is one faction of the government that's trying a more
concerted effort that perhaps would allow physical confrontation with the NLD?
There is not sufficient proof either way. I think it could be, your theory, what
you have heard, that one faction did not know about it. But I'm afraid there is
not sufficient proof -- evidence -- in either direction, for me to make any kind
of statement on the matter.
What were your thoughts in that flash of the moment when the car was being
I was just interested in what was going on [laughing]. It was quite interesting,
Did you feel, did you have sense, that this was something, you know, very
serious, or what was the feeling of being surrounded by so many people?
Well. . . I was fairly detached, I just saw it all as an observer: there were all
these faces crowding in. There was this one man in front with an iron bar in his
hand. I assumed that he was the one who made this big gash in my windscreen. I just said, "keep moving." I made this decision that we were going to go on and
go to meet the crowds who had come to support us. . . . didn't really. . . I didn't really feel any much else. One of the boys who was with us in the car was a bit angry about the whole thing, so, I spent a bit of time calming him down, telling him not
to be angry.
Are you concerned that if leaders of the NLD choose to be in contact with the
public supporters in the future, that there might be other incidents of physical
Well, it's possible, but, then we'll have to look on it as an occupational
hazard. Because leaders of political parties *do* need to be in contact with the
people. That's what it's all about -- politics is about people.
Are you concerned for the supporters themselves, if these USDA-hired civilians,
as it were, are out in the streets, might try to. . . some sort of cataclysmic riot
might erupt between the various civilian people?
That of course, is always a possibility. But, I'm fairly confident that we can
control *our* people. Whether or not the authorities can control theirs is another
And, finally, is there any progress made -- I understand that the party filed a
formal police complaint about the incident that occurred two weekends ago? Is
there any update on that?
As far as I understand, they have called for a list of witnesses, and I think Oo
Tin Oo went to the police station this morning, but I have not seen him since he
Just one final thing, going back to the economy, if we could, what is the
foreseeable scenario, if in fact the government is, to use slang, broke? What is
the foreseeable repercussions of that, in terms of. . . both the rise in prices, but
the people's reaction to such a dramatic rise in their living standard costs?
I think if prices are going to rise much, much more, and people are unable to
cope with the cost of living, there is bound to be a lot of discontent and
frustration. And it is difficult to predict how this frustration and discontent
will be expressed. It certainly will not be a happy situation.
I just have one final question. . . I already asked you two weeks ago about tourism. . .but since then things have happened. Has that changed your. . .?
No, it has not changed my mind in any way. I still oppose "Visit Myanmar Year".
And you ask every tourist to stay away?
Yes, I would say to tourists to stay away from "Visit Myanmar Year". Burma is
not going to run away, you know. [smiling] They should come back to Burma at a time when there is a democratic society, when people are secure, when there is justice, where there is rule of law. They will have a much better time, and they can travel ab
out with a clear conscience.
THE NATION: EU MAINTAINS BURMA AID DESPITE BREAK IN RELATIONS
January 28, 1997
EU aid continues to Burma and its 45 million people in line with a direct
request by Suu Kyi, reports INTER PRESS SERVICE's Eduardo Gomez Ortega in Brussels.
The European Union (EU) will not stop humanitarian aid to the people of
Burma, despite its break with the military government there at the request
of the country's Nobel Prize winning pro-democracy leader.
Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition National League for Democracy
(NLD) and 1991 Nobel Prize laureate, has asked for aid not to be
interrupted. The military regime's crackdown on political opponents, ethnic
minorities and organised workers has forced the EU to break off nearly all
its contacts with Rangoon.
But EU aid continues to the country and its 45 million people in line with a
direct request to EU commissioner for humanitarian affairs Emma Bonino, who
visited Burma last June.
EU aid consists mainly of projects aimed helping at thousands of displaced
people who want to return to Burma from encampments on the Thai border. The
refugees originally fled ethnic cleansing campaigns by the Burmese military
that intensified in 1992. The country has eight major ethnic groups and 135
identified ethnic sub-groups.
''We want to become more involved in the country and we have sent two
experts to evaluate the situation and identify possible projects," declared
Ubaldo Lorenzini, head of the Burma section of European Community office for
Humanitarian Affairs (Echo).
Lorenzini explained that ''we can only channel aid through foreign agencies,
because local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been infiltrated by
the government. Our main concern is that the aid reaches its target
population and not the local authorities."
He said substantial funds had gone to German, French and Dutch groups, and
international aid groups like Medecines Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without
In 1996, the State Council for Restoration of Law and Order (Slorc) junta,
under pressure from foreign groups and governments, began a programme of
ceasefire agreements with the armed groups defending ethnic communities. So
far 15 organisations have signed up.
The latest agreement was with the Mon Army, the armed wing of the Mon ethnic group. As a result of this agreement, 105,000 displaced people have just
begun a massive return to their places of origin.
Early this month, 111 delegates and observers from several ethnic
nationality organisations met in secret in Mae Tha Raw Hta, in the Karen
ethnic region. According to a statement distributed via Internet, the groups
demanded that the Slorc close its ''sham" constitutional convention and open
talks to include Suu Kyi.
''Armed subjugation by successive regimes, practising racial chauvinism, for
the last 49 years," said the group, ''has been a disastrous experience of
suffering, unprecedented in history, for the ethnic nationalities. Brutal
suppression of the ethnic nationalities through the use of armed might is
The Slorc, which seized power after crushing pro-democracy protests in 1988,
held elections in 1990 but refused to recognise the victory of Suu Kyi's
NLD. The situation is now stone-walled. It has tried to find a political
solution through a constitutional convention which has met only
intermittently since 1993, is boycotted by the NLD, and has not been
convened in the last 12 months.
International criticism of Burma is common. Last week the United Nations
Committee on the Rights of the Child urged Burma to end systematic
conscription of children for use as porters for the army, a claim denied by
The US NGO Human Rights Watch Asia said in a report that 200,000 Burmese,
including thousands of children from the Karen and Shan ethnic communities,
were forcibly moved from their homes in 1995 and 1996.
Burma is also under pressure to ease repression so as to save the
Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) political embarrassment when
Rangoon finally joins, as expected, in 2000, along with Cambodia and Laos.
Burma reported last Thursday that despite Suu Kyi's plea for foreign
companies to boycott Burma, foreign investment reached a record US$2.35
billion (Bt58.75 billion) in the country in 1996, bringing the total since
1988 to $5.35 billion in new funds.
''We try to help all the ethnic groups", said Lorenzini. Of the country's
45.2 million inhabitants, nine per cent belong to the Shan group, 7.1 per
cent to the Karen, 4.2 per cent to the Rakhin, and 2.2 per cent to the Mon.
In addition, three per cent of the population is Indian, three per cent
Chinese, and five per cent from other ethnic groups.
According to Lorenzini, Echo donated 2.22 million ECUs ($2.7 million) in
1996. Last December, it donated another $1.8 million to finance 1987
programmes. ''The first instalment in 1997 was of 300,000 ECU for the Rakhin
region, which will allow them to improve health facilities and build potable
waterholes," he told IPS.
''In the villages of Kyautow, Myauk and Mymsia, some 85,000 people live in
crowded conditions and lack basic services such as running water,
electricity, sewage and medical facilities."
''This is a difficult project, but we will try to work for everyone," said
Florence Diaunis, of Action Against Hunger (ACF-France), the NGO in charge
of implementing the project in the Rakhin region and the first foreign aid
group to work inside Burma this year.
Previous initiatives were based out of Thailand and operated in the border
regions. Echo is to open an office in Chiang Mai, Thailand to supervise
assistance on the ground, both in Burma and the border areas. Another
initiative currently being studied is a prevention programme for Aids and
other infectious diseases, said Marie Pierre Allie, of Medecines Sans
''I think that governments shouldn't put so much emphasis on the human
rights issue and shouldn't withdraw aid to the people of Burma, who are not
responsible for the dictatorship nor the problems that it has caused. I
think that Emma Bonino's reaction to Suu Kyi's request is a good example,"
said Karin Ruythooren, an independent Belgian specialist who travelled to
Thailand and Burma posing as a tourist last year. (TN)
L.A. TIMES: PEPSICO TO SEVER ALL TIES WITH MYANMAR
January 28, 1997
Boycott: Company says the move is a reaction to tougher U.S. policy and pressure from shareholders and customers.
>From the Washington Post
NEW YORK--PepsiCo Inc. has decided to pull all of its brands and business out of Myanmar, giving a major boost to a student and civic movement against U.S. economic involvement with the southeast Asian country's military government.
In a statement sent Friday to the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers religious community, which tried to bring shareholder pressure on PepsiCo to withdraw from Myanmar (formerly called Burma), PepsiCo's senior vice president and general counsel, Edward V. Lah
ey Jr., said: "Based on our assessment of the spirit of current U.S. government foreign policy, we are completing our total disengagement from the Burmese market."
Lahey said PepsiCo severed all ties with its Burmese bottler on Jan. 15, and expects that all production and distribution of company products there will cease by May 31. Pepsi executives, who once argued that free trade would help loosen the militar
y grip, said they acted in recognition of toughened U.S. policy toward Myanmar and in deference to the wishes of many shareholders and customers.
Zar Ni, a Wisconsin graduate student who helped lead a 100-campus boycott against Pepsi, celebrated the decision with an exuberant e-mail message to other organizers: "We finally tied the Pepsi Animal down! We did it! We all did it!!!"
The organizers have modeled their campaign after the effort to impose trade sanctions on the South African government before it agreed to accept black-majority rule. They are trying to persuade other U.S. companies, particularly oil giants such as Un
ocal Corp. , Atlantic Richfield Co. and Texaco Inc. to abandon Myanmar. The campaign has been endorsed by Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner whose party was barred from power by the Myanmar military in 1990 after winning more than 82% of legi
A woman answering the telephone at the embassy of Myanmar, the name given Burma by the military government, said no one there wished to comment on the PepsiCo action.
Campus organizers have considered PepsiCo particularly vulnerable to a college boycott because of the company's efforts to sell soft drinks to young consumers. It spent millions of dollars during Sunday's Super Bowl game advertising its "Generation
Groups such as Zar Ni's Free Burma Coalition persuaded Harvard University dining hall officials to discard a plan to replace Coca-Cola with Pepsi on campus and inspired a 2,000-signature petition that killed plans for a PepsiCo-subsidiary Taco Bel
l restaurant at Stanford University.
A dozen cities and counties--including Santa Monica, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda County--and Massachusetts have enacted laws prohibitingg municipal or state purchases of products from firms that do business with Myanmar.
Copyright Los Angeles Times
LA TIMES: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - STATE SANCTIONS AGAINST BURMA
January 28, 1997
Re "Wilson Rules Out California Action Against Myanmar, " Jan. 23: Gov.
Pete Wilson was mistaken when he said at a press conference in Asia that it would be unconstitutional for the state of California to impose sanctions on companies operating in Burma (Myanmar) .
The U.S. Supreme Court has specifically upheld the freedom of states to
give their business as purchasers of goods and services to whomever they please.
Thus, California and many other state and local governments were free to
refuse to do business with companies operating in South Africa during the apartheid years. And they are free now to refuse to do business with companies
operating in Burma, where an international outlaw regime is in power.
Wilson claims he wants to keep California out of foreign policy. But on
his trade mission to Asia he was conducting a foreign policy: one that proclaims
that Californians are eager to profit from dictators engaged in drug
trafficking, environmental destruction, slave labor, torture and homicide.
- Robert W. Benson
Professor of Law
Loyola Law School, Los Angeles
ANNOUNCEMENT: RE - E-MAILING THE VOLUNTEER DESK
January 26, 1997
We try and promptly answer enquiries to refugee_help@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
If your mail has not been answered within a week, please assume there
was a file-transfer problem and re-send it.
For example, a message from 'greg' was lost at the beginning of January
and I hope he will see this message and re-send his enquiry, as I don't
have his full e-mail address.