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ACTION ALERT! U.S. Court Revokes Ma

Subject: ACTION ALERT! U.S. Court Revokes Massachusetts Burma Law

ACTION ALERT! U.S. Court Revokes Massachusetts Burma Law
November 5, 1998

In any struggle, there will be defeats and setbacks. But the setback the
Free Burma movement - and all pro-democracy movements - suffered yesterday,
when Judge Tauro revoked the Massachusetts Burma selective purchasing law,
need not be permanent. 

With the same dogged determination that we used to drive close to 100
corporations out of Burma, we will ultimately prevail in restoring
democracy and human rights in Burma. And we will repair and restore the
right of citizens to choose how their money and tax dollars are spent.

Don't despair. Don't be afraid. Take action today.

Contact the Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger by phone, fax
or letter. Urge him to appeal Judge Tauro's decision to revoke the
Massachusetts Burma Law.

Attorney General Scott Harshbarger
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
1 Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 727-2200
(617) 727-5778 - fax

If you live outside Massachusetts, please also contact your state's
Attorney General. Ask him or her to contact the Massachusetts Attorney
General Scott Harshbarger and support Massachusetts by filing an amicus -
or friend of the court  - brief in defense of the Massachusetts Burma Law.

You can find the address of your state's Attorney General from your phone
book or on the website of the National Association of Attorney's General
(NAAG): <http://www.naag.org/>

Please send a copy of your letters to the New England Burma Roundtable so
the we can gauge the response from this action alert. Thank you for your

Simon Billenness
* for the New England Burma Roundtable *
Franklin Research & Development
711 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, MA 02111
(617) 423-6655, 225
(617) 482-6179 - fax

Contact: Rep. Byron Rushing, 617/722-2637, Simon Billenness, 617/423-6655,
Professor Robert Stumberg, 617/662-9603, Rachel Swain, Tommy McDonald,

Political Officials and Legal Scholars Criticize U.S. Court Decision to
Revoke Massachusetts Burma Law, Call on Attorney General to Appeal Ruling

Rep. Rushing: "If selective purchasing had been banned ten years ago,
Nelson Mandela might be still be in prison today."

BOSTON, MA -  Legal scholars and elected officials urged the state Attorney
General to appeal U.S. District Court Judge Tauro's decision to strike down
Massachusetts's Burma Law today.  They also warned that yesterday's
decision could have devastating consequences for local governments, U.S.
taxpayers and the Burmese people.

"If this ruling stands, taxpayers and local governments around the county
will lose the right to decide whether to do business that supports brutal
regimes like Burma," said Rep. Byron Rushing (D-Boston), who authored the
law. "If selective purchasing had been banned ten years ago, Nelson Mandela
might still be in prison today."

Judge Tauro ruled in favor of the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) - a
corporate lobbying group - late yesterday afternoon, finding that the 1996
Massachusetts Burma Law infringes on the federal government's power to
regulate foreign affairs.  Advocates for selective purchasing laws,
however, argue that local governments and taxpayers have the right to make
procurement decisions that ban contracts with companies that indirectly
support brutal regimes.

"Boycotts based on human rights have been a cornerstone of our democracy
since the Boston Tea Party," said Simon Billenness, a Senior Analyst for
Franklin Research and Development Corporation in Boston. "We cannot allow a
few corporations to remove this democratic tool so that they can profit
from a murderous military junta."

Twenty-two cities and counties around the country have selective purchasing
laws that target Burma, and supporters of the laws say that they are
crucial because the Burmese regime profits from most business enterprises
in the country.  In addition, pro-democracy leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi has
repeatedly called for sanctions, and says the Massachusetts Burma Law is a
critical way to pressure the military junta without hurting the Burmese

"The impact of this decision goes far beyond Massachusetts," said Professor
Robert Stumberg of Georgetown University Law Center.  "It would deny cities
and states the power to use moral standards for choosing their business
partners if foreign commerce is affected.  It could also affect laws for
domestic, minority and environmental purchasing in 45 states."