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PROTESTORS STANDOFF AT SHAREHOLDERS
ROBERT FRIEDLAND'S IVANHOE MINES FACES WRATH OF PROTEST AT AGM FOR ITS
INVOLVEMENT WITH MILITARY DICATORS IN BURMA
June 27, 2000
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Vancouver, BC - Bright signs, pickets and shouts of "Canadian mining funds
Burma's oppression" accompanied shareholders of Robert Frieldland's Ivanhoe
mines annual general meeting in downtown Vancouver today.
Protestors greeted 60 shareholders of the company to challenge Ivanhoe's
involvement in the Southeast Asian nation known for its horrendous human
rights record and ongoing civil war. Amnesty International, the
International Longshoremen and Warehouse Unions, women's rights, labour,
and human rights groups joined in voicing their concerns about the role
Canadian companies play in supporting regimes with records of human rights
Like Calgary's Talisman in Sudan, protestors argue, Ivanhoe mines is
enabling the military regime to acquire the funds it needs to continue an
ongoing civil war in Burma (renamed Myanmar by the military regime).
"I am disturbed that some people do not care that money is being made in a
country that denies basic rights to working people", said Al Engler from
the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). "The trade union
movement around the world has to act to prevent transnationals from
profiting from the absence of human rights."
Shareholder activist Eric Snider inside the meeting criticized the mining
company for being "in bed with one of the most brutal, repressive and
blood-stained military dictatorships".
Ivanhoe's vice-president Daniel Kutz refused to respond to a question of
whether Ivanhoe would allow workers to organize at the company's Monywa
mine in Burma. Trade unions are illegal and workers who organize
independent trade unions can be imprisoned for seven years.
"We had a very visible presence", said Barbara Waldern of the BC
Organization for Human Rights in the Philippines, "we sent a strong, clear
message to shareholders."
"The regime in Burma has been condemned internationally for forced labour
and human rights abuses, including on projects with foreign companies",
said Aaron James of the Canada-Asia Pacific Resource Network, a
labour-supported group, "how could Ivanhoe overlook human rights abuses for
business opportunities? We are asking why the Canadian government is not
PROTESTORS STANDOFF AT SHAREHOLDERS MEETING OF IVANHOE MINES FOR SUPPORT OF
MILITARY DICTATORS IN BURMA
A coalition of human rights, environment and labour groups will protest the
Annual General meeting of controversial mining promoter Robert Frieldland's
Ivanhoe Mines for the company's investments in the Southeast Asian nation
of Burma (renamed Myanmar by the military dictatorship). Protestors want
shareholders to know that Ivanhoe in joint venture with a ruthless military
regime immersed in a bloody civil war.
Ivanhoe's Monywa mine, one of the largest in Asia, will export 160,000
tonnes of cathode copper at peak production. Like Talisman in Sudan,
foreign currency generated by the mining project supports an on-going civil
war propelled by the junta. The UN has cited the junta for "systematic and
widespread" use of forced labour and an atrocious human rights record. The
International Labour Organization (ILO) took unprecedented action earlier
this month, calling for sanctions against the junta for their flagrant
violation of the 1930 Charter on forced labour.
Canadian mining investment, protestors argue, prolongs Burma's suffering by
supplying the regime with hard currency and creditability. "We are alarmed
that Ivanhoe is willing to overlook atrocities for business opportunities",
said protester Aaron James. Shareholders will be reminded that the junta is
known to employ forced labour in ventures with foreign companies. At
shareholder meetings in Los Angeles and Paris, oil companies Unocal and
Total faced intense criticism for allowing the military to provide security
and use forced labour to build roads, railways and helicopter pads for the
Yadana pipeline through eastern Burma. An independent report on mining in
Burma will be released shortly.
The junta came to power in 1988 after opening fire on thousands of peaceful
protestors in country-wide demonstrations. Two years later they ignored the
results of a democratic election won overwhelmingly by pro-democracy
groups, led by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Since 1988, the regime has
jailed and killed tens of thousands of pro-democracy advocates, including
44 elected MPs. Over 200,000 Burmese refugees have fled the country into
Thailand because of on-going attacks on ethnic groups.
Vancouver is home to some 300 Burmese - mostly men and women in their 20s
and 30s who took part in the 1988 uprising - some of whom will be on hand
at the event.