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LA Free Burma Update

Hi Friends, this is an email version of a newsletter we sent out to friends
and supporters in LA..
********************Los Angeles Free Burma Update******************

**********L.A. Burma Ordinance Moves Forward**********
**********Critical Time for  Community Support*********

After many months of work and support from hundreds of organizations and
individuals throughout the City, Los Angeles City Councilmember Richard
Alarcón (7th District) introduced a motion to ask the City's Chief
Legislative Analyst's (CLA's) Office to draft an ordinance which would
limit City Contracts with Companies Doing Business in Burma.  The motion
was seconded by Councilmember Goldberg (13th District) and Councilmember
Alatorre (14th District).   The issue has now been studied by the CLA and
we expect it to come up to committee in mid-January.

Passing a selective contracting ordinance for Burma in Los Angeles would
send a strong message to the military regime in Burma and the corporations
who continue to support them that the people of Los Angeles refuse to have
their tax dollars go to support human rights abuses and the flow of heroin
onto the streets of our city.

Our efforts would surely not have progressed this far without the support
of the over eighty five members of the coalition who have endorsed the
campaign, participated in meetings with Councilmembers, written letters,
attended events and shown support in many other ways.  Our coalition is
extremely diverse and includes labor unions, religious leaders, drug abuse
prevention and treatment organizations, environmental  and human rights
groups, senior citizens organizations, women's groups and many others.
The wheels of City government have finally begun to turn on this issue.
With the matter currently being studied by the CLA and soon to be
considered by City Council, this is a crucial time for us to make sure that
those of us who support human rights and democracy in Burma make our voices
heard.  Please call the Burma Forum at (310) 399-0703 for more information,
to endorse the campaign, or to get involved in other ways.

Until we have a system that guarantees rule of law and basic democratic
institutions, no amount of aid or investment will benefit our people.
Profits from business enterprises will merely go toward enriching a small
already very privileged elite.  Companies such as Unocal [and] ... Arco
only serve to prolong the agony of my country by encouraging the present
military regime to persist in its intransigence.

- Aung San Suu Kyi,
democratically elected leader of Burma & 1991 Nobel Peace Prize Winner

*****News from Burma*****

The recently published, State Department's Country Commercial Guide for
Burma confirms worsening economic and social conditions in Burma, linked to
currency instabilities of neighboring Thailand and Malaysia, rice crop
failures resulting from flooding and military pressure tactics against
farmers, widespread corruption and a flourishing trade in narcotics.  The
report indicates that the ruling generals seem to be counting heavily on
future income from natural gas projects with corporations like Unocal and
Total, Arco and Premier Oil of Great Britain.
Meanwhile, construction of the Unocal/Total gas pipeline continues on the
Burma side of the border but has been halted intermittently on the Thai
side due to organized public opposition coming form a coalition of
villagers along the route and a range of Thai non-governmental
Last month Texaco confirmed the sale of its share of the Yetagoon gas
concession in Burma to its partner, Premier Oil.  General Electric and Lee
Jeans have also recently withdrawn from Burma.  At the same time, Mitsui of
Japan has recently signed several deals with the SLORC.

The release of political prisoners is a current priority for Aung San Suu
Kyi.  In mid-October, three democracy supporters were transferred from a
military prison to a hospital, apparently gravely ill.  They had been
imprisoned for taking a video message from Aung San Suu Kyi to the
Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The refugee nightmare on the Thai Burma border continues, as sectors of the
Thai ruling establishment expand their business deals with the SLORC.
Ongoing SLORC raids on villages in Burma continue in Karenni, Shan, Karen,
and Mon areas.  The Thais have constructed fences around the camps, in
effect making the refugees prisoners.  Refugees have lost access to
employment in neighboring towns.  The Thai military continues to turn back
many families fleeing from SLORC at the border.

*****nARCO out of Burma!!*****

Free Burma activists around the world had a major victory last month when
Texaco Corporation responded to massive public pressure by selling off its
project in Burma.  With the Texaco victory behind us, activists are now
setting their sights on ARCO.  We in Los Angeles, ARCO's hometown, have a
special role to play in the campaign to get ARCO out of Burma.

Weekly demon-strations have been held outside ARCO Headquarters in downtown
Los Angeles for the last three months.  Each week, more employees stop to
talk and more drivers honk and wave to show their support.  On Monday,
October 6th over 60 people, many of whom had just attended the Free Burma
Conference, staged a demonstration at the ARCO building.  The campaign to
get ARCO out of Burma has already received a great deal of support from
many other organizations including the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers'
Union.  OCAW members have distributed leaflets on the company's involvement
with the Burmese military regime to their fellow workers at the ARCO
refineries and have asked their workers to sign postcards to ARCO CEO Mike
Bowlin expressing their concern over ARCO's acitivities in Burma.

ARCO employees and the media are particularly interested in ARCO's
connection to the heroin trade.  Over 60% of heroin seized on U.S. streets
comes from Burma.  The Burmese military regime had played a central role in
the expansion of the heroin trade.  By giving millions of dollars directly
to this regime nARCO is facilitating the flow of heroin onto the streets of
Los Angeles and other cities.

In the coming weeks you can help to continue to escalate pressure on ARCO
to stop doing business with the brutal SLORC regime through a variety of
events, including continued demonstrations at their head-quarters and at
your local ARCO gas station.

*****Over 85 Groups & Community Leaders Endorse LA Burma Ordinance*****

As members of the Los Angeles community, we urge the Los Angeles City
Council to pass a strong selective purchasing ordinance targeting companies
doing business in Burma.  In the 1980's, the City of Los Angeles played an
important role in the fight to end apartheid in South Africa by adopting
similar selective purchasing legislation.  Foreign investment in Burma
serves largely to prop up the brutal military dictatorship, the State Law
and Order Restoration Council (SLORC).  Therefore, we support the calls
from the democracy movement within Burma for corporate withdrawal until
democracy is achieved.  SLORC's reign of terror includes, but is not
limited to:  violently suppressing the democratic movement; attacking and
displacing millions of civilians, predominantly indigenous ethnic groups;
conscripting civilians as forced laborers; plundering natural resources,
such as teak forests and natural gas reserves; and expanding the trade in
Given the level of human rights abuses committed by the ruling dictatorship
in Burma and the increasing repression, now is the time to support freedom
and democracy in Burma through a Los Angeles selective purchasing
Alliance for Democracy - San Fernando Valley Chapter * Rev. Ed Bacon, All
Saints Church, Pasadena* * Asian American Drug Abuse Program, Inc. (AADAP)
*Asian Core to Initiate Opportunities Now (ACTION) *Asian Pacific American
Labor Alliance (APALA) AFL-CIO * Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council
(A3PCON) * BAYAN International - USA (New Patriotic Alliance) * Rabbi
Leonard I. Beerman * Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels, Beth Shir Shalom* * Chinese
Human Rights Advocates * Carlos Porras, Communities for a Better
Environment* * Rev. Altagracia Perez * Church of St. Philip the Evangelist,
Episcopal * Robert W. Edgar, Claremont School of Theology * Clergy and
Laeity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) * Coalition for Humane Immigrant
Rights of LA (CHIRLA) * Coalition of Women From Asia and the Middle East *
Committee for Restoration of Democracy in Burma * Common Threads *
Communication Workers of America, Local 9000 * Community Coalition for
Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment * Earth Trust Foundation * Bishop
Frederick H. Borsch, Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles * The Federation of
Trade Unions - Burma * Patricia "Cisa" Payuno, Filipino Christian Church *
Gardena Valley Democratic Club * Green Party, Los Angeles * Edward J.
Hansen, Pastor, Hollywood First United Methodist Church * Hotel Employees
and Restaurant Employees Union, Local 11 * Hotel Employees and Restaurant
Employees Union, Local 814 * Human Rights in Vietnam * Karen National Union
* Korean Institute for Human Rights * Labor/Community Strategy Center *
Rabbi Sanford Ragins, Leo Baeck Temple* * Los Angeles Campaign for a Free
Burma * Los Angeles County Democratic Party * Los Angeles County Federation
of Labor * Los Angeles Friends of Tibet * Malcolm X Grassroots Movement *
Multicultural Collaborative * National Coalition for Redress/Reparations *
National Lawyers Guild * National Coalition Government of the Union of
Burma (NCGUB) * New Otani Workers' Support Committee * Northeast Los
Angeles Democratic Club * Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers International
Union (OCAW) * One Stop Immigration Center * Pacoima Urban Village *
People's CORE * Philipino Workers Center * Philippine Peasant Support
Network (PESANTE) * Najee Ali, Project Islamic H.O.P.E. * Service Employees
International Union, Local 99 * Service Employees International Union,
Local 347 * Service Employees International Union, Local 399 * Service
Employees International Union, Local 1877 * Board of Directors, South Coast
Ecumenical Council * Dr. Norman S. Johnson, Sr., Southern Christian
Leadership Conference, LA * Strategic Action for a Just Economy (S.A.J.E.)
* Student Association of Graduate Employees (SAGE-UAW) - UCLA * Tai
International * Rabbi Robert Gan, Temple Isiah * Rabbi James Kaufman,
Temple Beth Hillel* * Tibetan Cultural and Community Services Center *
Tourism Industry Development Council (TIDC) * Rev. Dr. Roger Velazquez, La
Trinidad - United Methodist Church * Meg Thornton, UCLA Asian American
Studies Center* * UCLA Concerned Faculty * UCLA Environmental Coalition *
Kent Wong, UCLA Labor Center* * UCLA Rainforest Action Group * Asia
Pacific/Philippines Task Force, Southern California Unit, Unitarian
Universalist Service Committee * Southern California Unit Board, Unitarian
Universalist Service Committee * Rev. James Conn ,United Methodist Church *
Rabbi Allen I. Freehling, University Synagogue * Union of Needletrades,
Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE!), Western States Region * Social
Concerns Committee, Valley Interfaith Council* * Vietnam Human Rights Forum
* Watts/Century Latino Organization * John Fanestil, Westchester United
Methodist Church * United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) * Rabbi Harvey J.
Fields, Wilshire Boulevard Temple * Youth United for Community Action *
        * for ID purposes only

If your group has not yet signed on to this letter, please call us or
fax your the enclosed endorsement form to (310) 399-0703 (phone & fax).

Kevin Rudiger
Burma Forum, Los Angeles
Campaign for Corporate Withdrawal
2118 Wilshire Blvd #383
Santa Monica, CA 90403
(310)399-0703 - Phone and Fax
(310)588-3404-Pager and Voice Mail