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BurmaNet News: October 12, 2000
- Subject: BurmaNet News: October 12, 2000
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Thu, 12 Oct 2000 08:25:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
_________October 12, 2000 Issue # 1638__________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*AP: U.N. envoy meets Suu Kyi for a second time
*AFP: Elephants bear cost of Myanmar landmines
*AFP: Myanmar bucking global trend, stepping up production of landmines
*Reuters: ASEAN monitoring Myanmar situation?won?t mediate
*AP: Internet a 'double-edged' sword in the fight against drugs
*New England Burma Roundtable: U.S. Congress Passes Resolution on Burma
*Free Burma Committee Minneapolis: Minneapolis to Vote on Renewed Burma
Human Rights Measure
*The Irrawaddy: Totally Undeniable
*NCGUB: PM Dr. Sein Win Leads New Council of Ministers and Khun Teddi
Buri as President of MPU
*American Musuem of Natural History: Burmese Marionette Puppet Show
The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
AP: U.N. envoy meets Suu Kyi for a second time
Oct 12, 2000
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ A special U.N. envoy met Thursday with
pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi for the second time in two days in
his latest mission to break Myanmar's political deadlock.
Razali Ismail, a veteran Malaysian diplomat, met Suu Kyi in her
lakeside house, and was inside for more than two hours. Reporters were
not allowed in and details of the meeting were not disclosed.
Razali was the first foreign diplomat to meet with Suu Kyi since she
was put under virtual house arrest on Sept. 22 when she tried to travel
outside the Myanmar capital on party business. Similar restrictions also
were imposed on other leaders of her National League for Democracy
Razali had seen Suu Kyi on Wednesday also, soon after meeting with Gen.
Than Shwe, head of the junta, known as the State Peace and Development
It was the fist time Than Shwe had met with a U.N. diplomat, raising
hopes that Razali might be more successful in his mission than previous
U.N. envoys. Razali's predecessor came to Myanmar six times but made no
The U.N. envoys, during their rare visits, have usually met twice with
Suu Kyi in order to convey information between government and the
opposition. Myanmar's government refuses to hold talks with the National
League for Democracy if they include Suu Kyi.
The military government of Myanmar, or Burma, has come under intense
international criticism for shackling the NLD and its leaders. The party
was never allowed by the junta to take power after a sweeping general
election victory in 1990.
Razali's mandate is to discuss issues related to a U.N. General
Assembly resolution adopted in December that urges Myanmar's government
to stop widespread human rights violations.
It also calls for Myanmar to ``take all necessary steps'' to restore
democracy, open a dialogue with Suu Kyi and other political leaders, and
to immediately release political prisoners.
Razali, who came to Yangon Monday, left Myanmar later Thursday. He did
not speak with reporters.
On Tuesday, he met with Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, chief of military
intelligence and the third-ranking general in the regime.
There was speculation earlier that Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Peace
laureate, might object to seeing Razali while being under virtual house
arrest for trying to exercise her political rights.
AFP: Elephants bear cost of Myanmar landmines
BANGKOK, Oct 12 (AFP) - More than 20 elephants have been killed and many
more injured by landmines along the Myanmar-Bangladesh frontier over the
past seven years, a mines researcher said Thursday.
"Between 1993 and 1999 more than 20 elephants have been blown up along
the heavily mined border," Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan of the international
non-governmental group Landmine Monitor told AFP.
In Bangladesh the elephants have now changed their migration routes,
causing them to become a problem in nearby agricultural areas they had
previously avoided, he added.
The minefields are actively maintained by Myanmar to stop refugee flows
and to prevent cross-border movement by ethnic armed groups fighting the
ruling junta, Moser-Puangsuwan said.
Myanmar laid mines along virtually its entire border with Bangladesh in
1993 after some 250,000 Rohingya Muslims took refuge in the neighbouring
Soth Asian country, bringing tales of atrocities committed against them
by the junta.
The danger elephants face from landmines hit the headlines in August
last year when a 39-year-old animal stepped on a mine on the
Thai veteranarians announced in September the injured elephant, Motala,
would be fitted with an artificial foot within the next six months.
AFP: Myanmar bucking global trend, stepping up production of landmines
BANGKOK, Oct 12 (AFP) - Myanmar's armed forces and at least 10 ethnic
armed groups fighting the ruling junta are continuing to produce and use
landmines, researchers said.
Since 1998 the Yangon military regime has increased its production of
mines, Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan of the non-governmental organisation
Landmine Monitor told reporters late Wednesday.
In the past two years most other mine-producing countries have either
kept production constant or slashed their output, he said.
"Myanmar is one of the countries which has actually acquired more
mine-making technology," he reported, adding that most of the technology
was bought from China.
The state Myanmar Defense Product Industries produces at least two
types of anti-personnel mines -- the MM1 and the designed-to-kill MM2 --
but is suspected of making three other types, Moser-Puangsuwan said.
Mines made in China, Israel, Italy, Russia and the United States have
also been found in the country, he added.
Some 1,500 civilians and combatants were either killed or injured as a
result of mine blasts in Myanmar in 1999 -- the third highest number of
mine victims in any one country in the world, Moser-Puangsuwan said.
Ten out of Myanmar's fourteen states are mined including virtually the
whole of the 2,000-kilometer- (1,240-mile-) long border with Thailand.
Additionally, the military has planted mines in rural areas "as part of
its counterinsurgency operations to forcibly relocate villagers out of
their villages," he added.
At least 10 ethnic armed groups, such as the Karen National Liberation
Army, are also producing mines, "mainly crude glass bottle fragmentation
mines," he said.
The groups mostly use the mines for perimeter defences but they have
also been used in territorial disputes with rival militia.
Myanmar is not one of the 139 states which are signatory to the 1997
Ottawa Convention committing states to ban the production, use and
transfer of anti-personnel mines.
India, Pakistan, the US, China and Russia -- three of the five
permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- have also
not signed the treaty.
Within Southeast Asia, Laos, Vietnam and Singapore -- one of the
world's largest producers of landmines -- are not signatories.
Reuters: ASEAN monitoring Myanmar situation?won?t mediate
By David Brunnstrom
HANOI, Oct 12 (Reuters) - The Association of Southeast Asian Nations
said on Thursday it was monitoring the situation in Myanmar, where
opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been confined to her home, but
had no intention of mediating.
``At various levels, ASEAN members are keeping an eye on what's
happening in Myanmar,'' the 10-member group's secretary-general Rodolfo
Severino told Reuters.
``But there is no question of mediation or anything like that.''
However, Thailand's Supatra Masdit, a minister in the prime minister's
office, told Reuters she was for mediation and the issue should be
discussed at Foreign Ministry level.
``I support it...because I think it's good to have someone as a
mediator, and Thailand -- we are neighbours (with Myanmar), we have many
things -- we have our own standpoint, not really following everything.''
Both Supatra and Severino spoke on the sidelines of a meeting of ASEAN
information ministers and deputies in Hanoi.
Severino defended ASEAN's policy of non-interference in the internal
affairs of member states, saying it was the basis of the whole U.N.
charter and the international system.
Asked if Thailand was taking a different position, he said: ``Well, I
don't know, if you asked them whether they want to scuttle
non-intervention, that's to deal with the entire international
``NO PRESSURE ON ASEAN''
``I don't think there's any pressure to depart from it -- can you
imagine a world where everybody interferes with everyone else?''
ASEAN agreed in July in Bangkok to form a ``troika'' of three members
to try to help resolve political and security disputes.
Suu Kyi, who leads Myanmar's opposition National League for Democracy
(NLD), has been restricted to her home with her telephone cut and
diplomatic access barred since September 21.
Senior NLD officials have also been confined to their homes after the
military government blocked a bid by Suu Kyi to travel from Yangon to
Mandalay by rail last month.
Myanmar officials at the Hanoi meeting said Suu Kyi had been asked to
stay in her home as a security measure and when she was allowed to leave
would depend on prevailing conditions.
``For the the time being for the security measure, we have requested
her to stay in her house,'' an official of Myanmar's Information
Ministry told Reuters.
``It is the right of every government to give its people security, to
give the country security,'' added Deputy Information Minister
Brigadier-General Aung Thein.
Asked when the 1991 Nobel Peace laureate would be allowed to leave her
house, he said: ``This depends on the conditions.''
Myanmar has faced mounting international criticism this year over its
treatment of Suu Kyi and the NLD which won election in 1990 by a
landslide but has never been allowed to govern.
Suu Kyi met U.N. special envoy Razali Ismail at her Yangon home on
Wednesday. Ismail has also met military leaders.
AP: Internet a 'double-edged' sword in the fight against drugs
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) The Internet is a double-edged sword in the
fight against the globalized drug trade: a boon to law enforcers as well
as the traffickers they try to stop, narcotics experts said Thursday.
They said e-mail, intelligence-sharing and web-linked databases are
starting to prove useful in regional efforts to suppress heroin and
methamphetamines produced in Southeast Asia's Golden Triangle, where the
borders of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet.
Earlier this year, Thai police launched a website posting photos of 80
wanted traffickers. In tech-savvy Singapore, the Internet is used by the
government as an anti-drug education tool.
But a small pool of drug users and producers are starting to go online
in Asia, Thomas Wersto, a U.S. State Department analyst, told a regional
anti-drugs conference of more than 30 countries in Bangkok this week.
``We expect that use of the Internet in the drug trade will continue to
grow, even if governments take proactive measures,'' Wersto said.
Even recipes for methamphetamines and ecstasy can now be found on the
web, he said.
While drug producers in the Golden Triangle will struggle to get online
from the rugged Thai-Myanmar border, tough-to-trace e-mail contacts can
be exploited by international traffickers further down the smuggling
``Traditionally police could do wiretapping,'' said Wong Hoy Yuen of
the United Nations International Drug Control Program.
``With free Internet available, anybody can have an e-mail account with
complete anonymity. You could have ten different identities and change
at any time,'' he said.
In Southeast Asia, computer networking between drugs police in
different countries is in its infancy.
At the moment, officials in key countries such as Myanmar, the main
source of heroin and methamphetamines in the region, still use the fax.
Police Col. Hkam Awng, joint secretary of the Myanmar Central Committee
for Drug Abuse Control, said his office does not have worldwide web
access and only got e-mail two or three months ago.
However, this year, police in Myanmar _ where the military government
heavily restricts public access to the web _ obtained a direct computer
linkup to the French-based international counter-crime agency, Interpol,
This week, Vietnam proposed a regional drug-related information center
One area in which information technology could help drug suppression at
source is in controlling the flow of precursor chemicals needed to make
heroin and methamphetamines.
Many of these chemicals have legitimate uses and so can be traded
legally. For example, ephedrine _ a key constituent of methamphetamine _
is used as a pharmaceutical decongestant.
Under a UNDCP project, Wong has been helping six governments in
Southeast Asia _ Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam _
set up computer systems to help monitor the trade in chemicals.
New England Burma Roundtable: U.S. Congress Passes Resolution on Burma
October 12, 2000
1. U.S. Congress Passes Resolution on Burma
2. Text of Resolution
3. Honor Roll: Resolution Co-Sponsors
1. U.S. Congress Passes Resolution on Burma
After a hard fought campaign of lobbying at the grassroots and in
Washington DC, the United States House of Representatives passed the
House Concurrent Resolution 328 (H. Con. Res. 328) on October 10, 2000.
The resolution reaffirms U.S. sanctions on the Burmese military junta.
Below please find the full text of the concurrent resolution, which was
passed by the United States Senate on July 19, 2000. Includes also is an
honor roll of U.S. Representatives and Senators who co-sponsored the
A big thank you to everyone who called and wrote their Members of
Congress on behalf of this resolution. This win helps underscore U.S.
support for the Burmese democracy movement and its call for economic
sanctions on the Burmese military junta. Without your help, this
victory would not have been possible.
*for the New England Burma Roundtable*
Trillium Asset Management
711 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, MA 02111
(617) 423-6655, x225
(617) 482-6179 - fax
2. Text of Resolution
Title: Expressing the sense of the Congress in recognition of the 10th
anniversary of the free and fair elections in Burma and the urgent need
to improve the democratic and human rights of the people of Burma.
H. Con. Res. 328
Whereas in 1988 thousands of Burmese citizens called for a democratic
change in Burma and participated in peaceful demonstrations to achieve
Whereas these demonstrations were brutally repressed by the Burmese
military, resulting in the loss of hundreds of lives;
Whereas despite continued repression, the Burmese people turned out in
record numbers to vote in elections deemed free and fair by
Whereas on May 27, 1990, the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi won more than 60 percent of the popular vote and
80 percent of the parliamentary seats in the elections;
Whereas the Burmese military rejected the results of the elections,
placed Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and hundreds of members of the NLD under
arrest, pressured members of the NLD to resign, and severely restricted
freedom of assembly, speech, and the press;
Whereas 48,000,000 people in Burma continue to suffer gross violations
of human rights, including the right to democracy, and economic
deprivation under a military regime known as the State Peace and
Development Council (SPDC);
Whereas on September 16, 1998, the members of the NLD and other
political parties who won the 1990 elections joined together to form
the Committee Representing the People's Parliament (CRPP) as an interim
mechanism to address human rights, economic and other conditions, and
provide representation of the political views and voice of Members of
Parliament elected to but denied office in 1990;
Whereas the United Nations General Assembly and Commission on Human
Rights have condemned in nine consecutive resolutions the persecution
of religious and ethnic minorities and the political opposition, and
SPDC's record of forced labor, exploitation, and sexual violence
Whereas the United States and the European Union Council of Foreign
Ministers have similarly condemned conditions in Burma and officially
imposed travel restrictions and other sanctions against the SPDC;
Whereas in May 1999, the International Labor Organization (ILO)
condemned the SPDC for inflicting forced labor on the people and has
banned the SPDC from participating in any ILO meetings;
Whereas the 1999 Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights
Practices for Burma estimates more than 1,300 people continue to suffer
inhumane detention conditions as political prisoners in Burma;
Whereas the Department of State International Narcotics Control Strategy
Report for 2000 determines that Burma is the second largest world-wide
source of illicit opium and heroin and that there are continuing,
reliable reports that Burmese officials are `involved in the drug
business or are paid to allow the drug business to be conducted by
others', conditions which pose a direct threat to United States
national security interests;
Whereas Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been denied the basic rights to freedom
of movement and assemble with members of the NLD by Burmese security
authorities who, on August 24, 2000, forcibly blocked her and her party
from traveling to NLD township offices near Rangoon;
Whereas after having been halted for nine days at a roadblock, Daw Aung
San Suu Kyi and her party were forcibly returned to Rangoon by Burmese
Whereas since their forcible return to Rangoon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and
other NLD leaders have been held incommunicado in their residences and
diplomats and others have been denied access to them;
Whereas the refusal to allow Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to leave her compound
or to allow others access to her has created grave concern for her
safety and welfare;
Whereas the NLD party offices have been ransacked and documents seized
by Burmese authorities and access to the party headquarters has been
denied to NLD members;
Whereas the Burmese authorities have continued to refuse to engage in a
substantive dialogue with the NLD and other elements of the democratic
Whereas despite these massive violations of human rights and civil
liberties and chronic economic deprivation, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and
members of the NLD have continued to call for a peaceful political
dialogue with the SPDC to achieve a democratic transition: Now,
therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate
concurring), That it is the Sense of the Congress that--
(1) United States policy should strongly support the restoration of
democracy in Burma, including implementation of the results of the free
and fair elections of 1990;
(2) United States policy should continue to call upon the military
regime in Burma known as the State Peace and Development Council
(A) to guarantee freedom of assembly, freedom of movement, freedom of
speech, and freedom of the press for all Burmese citizens;
(B) to immediately accept a political dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi, the National League for Democracy (NLD), and ethnic leaders to
advance peace and reconciliation in Burma;
(C) to immediately and unconditionally release all detained Members
elected to the 1990 parliament and other political prisoners; and
(D) to promptly and fully uphold the terms and conditions of all human
rights and related resolutions passed by the United Nations General
Assembly, the Commission on Human Rights, the International Labor
Organization, and the European Union; and
(3) United States policy should sustain current economic and political
sanctions against Burma as the appropriate means--
(A) to secure the restoration of democracy, human rights, and civil
liberties in Burma; and
(B) to support United States national security counternarcotics
3. Honor Roll: Resolution Co-Sponsors - (date of co-sponsorship)
Rep Abercrombie, Neil - 5/16/2000
Rep Baldacci, John Elias - 5/16/2000
Rep Baldwin, Tammy - 5/25/2000
Rep Berman, Howard L. - 5/16/2000
Rep Blagojevich, Rod R. - 6/23/2000
Rep Capuano, Michael E. - 5/16/2000
Rep Castle, Michael N. - 5/16/2000
Rep DeFazio, Peter A. - 6/23/2000
Rep Delahunt, William D. - 5/16/2000
Rep Diaz-Balart, Lincoln - 5/16/2000
Rep Dixon, Julian C. - 6/23/2000
Rep Ehlers, Vernon J. - 6/23/2000
Rep Engel, Eliot L. - 5/16/2000
Rep English, Phil - 5/25/2000
Rep Evans, Lane - 6/23/2000
Rep Farr, Sam - 5/25/2000
Rep Frank, Barney - 6/23/2000
Rep Gejdenson, Sam - 9/18/2000
Rep Gillmor, Paul E. - 9/12/2000
Rep Gilman, Benjamin A. - 5/16/2000
Rep Gutierrez, Luis V. - 5/16/2000
Rep Horn, Stephen - 5/16/2000
Rep Kucinich, Dennis J. - 5/16/2000
Rep Kuykendall, Steven T. - 5/25/2000
Rep Lantos, Tom - 5/16/2000
Rep Lee, Barbara - 5/16/2000
Rep McGovern, James P. - 5/16/2000
Rep Moakley, John Joseph - 9/28/2000
Rep Morella, Constance A. - 5/16/2000
Rep Neal, Richard E. - 6/23/2000
Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes - 6/23/2000
Rep Oberstar, James L. - 5/16/2000
Rep Olver, John W. - 5/16/2000
Rep Payne, Donald M. - 5/16/2000
Rep Pitts, Joseph R. - 5/16/2000
Rep Price, David E. - 7/26/2000
Rep Rahall, Nick J., II - 5/16/2000
Rep Rohrabacher, Dana - 5/16/2000
Rep Rush, Bobby L. - 5/16/2000
Rep Sanders, Bernard - 5/16/2000
Rep Shays, Christopher - 5/16/2000
Rep Smith, Christopher H. - 5/16/2000
Rep Souder, Mark E. - 5/25/2000
Rep Stark, Fortney Pete - 5/16/2000
Rep Tierney, John F. - 6/23/2000
Rep Udall, Mark - 5/16/2000
Rep Waxman, Henry A. - 5/16/2000
Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. - 6/23/2000
Rep Wu, David - 6/23/2000
Sen Akaka, Daniel K. - 5/22/2000
Sen Ashcroft, John - 5/16/2000
Sen Bennett, Robert F. - 6/7/2000
Sen Boxer, Barbara - 5/16/2000
Sen Durbin, Richard J. - 5/16/2000
Sen Feingold, Russell D. - 5/16/2000
Sen Feinstein, Dianne - 5/16/2000
Sen Helms, Jesse - 5/16/2000
Sen Kennedy, Edward M. - 5/16/2000
Sen Leahy, Patrick J. - 5/16/2000
Sen Lott, Trent - 5/16/2000
Sen Lugar, Richard G. - 5/16/2000
Sen McConnell, Mitch - 5/16/2000
Sen Mikulski, Barbara A. - 6/6/2000
Sen Murray, Patty - 5/23/2000
Sen Sarbanes, Paul S. - 5/16/2000
Sen Torricelli, Robert G. - 5/22/2000
Sen Wellstone, Paul D. - 5/16/2000
_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________
Free Burma Committee Minneapolis: Minneapolis to Vote on Renewed Burma
Human Rights Measure
Resolution Will Sell off City Stocks in Companies Financing Burma's
Oppressive Military Regime
Minneapolis, MN (Friday, October 13, 2000).--The City Council of
Minneapolis will vote on a proposal to sell off--or "divest"--its
stocks and prevent future investments in companies that do business in
Burma. The vote on the Burma Divestment Resolution is scheduled for the
full Council meeting on Friday at 9:30 a.m. in Room 317 of City Hall.
Council Member Jim Niland (Ward 6) is authoring the resolution sponsored
by the Free Burma Coalition.
The Council passed a similar "Selective Purchasing Resolution" in June
proposed by Niland that would have prevented the city from buying
products or accepting contract bids from companies involved in Burma.
However, Mayor Sharon Sayles-Belton vetoed the measure in a move that
surprised many Councilors and the community. Niland quickly introduced
the divestment resolution, which is considered less controversial and
vulnerable lawsuits. The Mayor has agreed to sign the divestment
The pending vote in Minneapolis comes on the heels of a Supreme Court
decision striking down a Selective Purchasing Agreement in the State of
Massachusetts. The High Court made a narrow ruling on the breadth of
the purchasing restrictions as they are applied in Massachusetts,
leaving other Burma resolutions passed in cities/states across the
country in question but not overturned. Since investment policies are
practically and legally differentiated from purchasing--and not
addressed in the Supreme Court case-- Council members and the Mayor
appear satisfied with this resolution.
Minneapolis will become the first local government to pass a
post-Supreme Court resolution on Burma, affirming the legal right and
obligation of local governments exercise good judgment and ethical
standards and consider human rights concerns when doing business with
Burma is ruled by one of the world's most brutal military regimes that
has been sanctioned by the world community for its human rights abuses,
including the use of forced labor, child labor, and sweatshop working
conditions. Many corporations take advantage of the unpaid and abused
workers in Burma and work directly with the military generals.
The Irrawaddy: Totally Undeniable
While Judge Ronald Lew has dismissed the case charging Unocal with
liability for human rights abuses, attorneys of the plaintiffs are
encouraged by prospects for a successful appeal.
by Jed Greer and Tyler Giannini/EarthRights International
The Yadana gas pipeline project in Burma has become infamous during the
past decade. The project, led by an international consortium that
includes Unocal (United States) and Total (France), has caused
widespread human rights abuses and environmental destruction. Despite
consistent company denials of abuses on the project, a staggering amount
of evidence now exists that the project resulted in forced labor and
other crimes against humanity by the Burmese army, which is protecting
the pipeline. The abuses surrounding the Yadana project even made their
way into US federal court in Los Angeles in 1996. In the case, John Doe
I, et al. v. Unocal Corp., et al., Burmese plaintiffs have sought to
hold Unocal legally responsible for its involvement in the project. In
1997, the case made legal history when it became the first in which a
judge ruled that US courts have the authority to adjudicate claims of
violations of international human rights law against corporations.
Several years of factual investigations by the parties ensued.
On August 31, 2000, the presiding judge in the case, Ronald S.W. Lew,
ruled on the evidence before him that although Unocal knew about and
benefited from a host of atrocities, the company cannot be held liable
and dismissed the case. However, the opinion delivered an unexpected
gift to the plaintiffs. Besides completely validating the plaintiffsÆ
factual allegations, the opinion reveals a considerable amount of
information that until now has been withheld from the public under seal
of the court. While attorneys for the Burmese plaintiffs are
disappointed by the dismissal, they are appealing the decision and, for
reasons discussed below, are confident that the appeals court will
reverse the courtÆs dismissal and permit the case to go to trial.
What the decision means
Unocal has long denied the plaintiffsÆ allegations of egregious human
rights abuses, including murder, torture, rape, forced labor, and forced
relocation. On its website, where the company maintains that the case
has "no basis . . . in fact," and elsewhere, Unocal has consistently
turned a blind eye to overwhelming evidence showing widespread,
Yadana-related abuses. But after Judge LewÆs opinion, Unocal can never
again credibly deny that it didnÆt know. Never again can Roger Breach,
UnocalÆs Chief Executive Officer, say (as he did at the companyÆs recent
shareholderÆs meeting), "There is no forced labor on the pipeline
According to Judge Lew: "Plaintiffs present evidence demonstrating that
before joining the [Yadana] Project, Unocal knew that the military had a
record of committing human rights abuses; that the Project hired the
military to provide security for the Project, a military that forced
villagers to work and entire villages to relocate for the benefit of the
Project; that the military, while forcing villagers to relocate,
committed numerous acts of violence; and that Unocal knew or should have
known that the military did commit, was committing, and would continue
to commit these tortious acts."
Elsewhere, Judge Lew noted, "the evidence does suggest that Unocal knew
that forced labor was being utilized and that [Unocal and Total, a
co-venturer in the Yadana project] benefited from the practice."
What the decision does not mean
This opinion does not mean that the lawsuit is over, and it does not
mean that Unocal never can or will be found liable. The plaintiffsÆ
lawyers are appealing the decision, a process that will take at least a
year. Given the unprecedented nature of this lawsuit, it was always
likely that this case would be appealed by one side or the other. While
the plaintiffs, who have risked their lives to bring this case, must
wait longer for justice, the narrow legal ruling that dismissed the case
gives their lawyers optimism for appeal. The court dismissed this case
because it concluded that Unocal did not directly "control" or
"conspire" with BurmaÆs military to commit the atrocities. The court
ruled that knowledge and benefit from the abuses were not sufficient to
hold Unocal liable, and this legal finding creates an extremely high
legal standard that the appeals court will review. PlaintiffsÆ attorneys
will argue that the lower court used the wrong standard in determining
UnocalÆs liability, and they are confident that the appeals court will
reverse the lower courtÆs decision and permit the case to go to trial.
New information disclosed in the opinion
To support his conclusion that Unocal knew about and benefited from
human rights abuses, Judge Lew included in his opinion much information
that until now has been publicly unavailableùhidden within sealed
documents until the release of this opinion. For example, Unocal had
forewarning about the horrific practices of BurmaÆs army at least as
early as May 1992, when a report by the companyÆs risk consultant
advised Unocal about the habitual use of forced labor, military attacks
on civilians, and a "terrorized" local community in the prospective
pipeline region. Apparently untroubled by such disclosures, Unocal put
in a contract bid with BurmaÆs state-owned energy company (Myanma Oil
and Gas Enterprise, or MOGE) for a license to produce and sell natural
gas from the Andaman Sea. Total eventually won that contract, but Unocal
joined the project as a joint venturer in late 1992.
According to Judge Lew, "The violence perpetrated against
Plaintiffs is well documented in the deposition testimony filed under
seal with the Court and need not be recited in detail in this Order."
For readers interested in more ædetail,Æ EarthRights InternationalÆs
æTotal Denial Continues: Earth Rights Abuses Along the Yadana and
Yetagun Pipelines in BurmaÆ (May 2000) is the most comprehensive report
to date on Yadana-related human rights violations. This report provides
extensive documentation that supplements the brief, but crucial,
statements Judge Lew made in his opinion. For further
information, visit www.earthrights.org
Under the contracts in which Unocal bought its share, it was agreed that
"MOGE shall assist and expedite . . . execution of the Work Programme by
providing . . . security protection and rights of way and easements as
may be requested[.]" From the outset, then, Unocal had a contractual
relationship whereby BurmaÆs government would secure the pipeline area.
As an internal Unocal document noted in 1995, "[a]ccording to our
contract, the Government of Myanmar is responsible for protecting the
pipeline. There is military protection for the pipeline and, when we
have work to do along the pipeline that requires security, then military
people will, as a matter of course, be nearby."
Even by 1994, it was evident that a security "corridor" was being
created exclusively for the pipeline. Internal Unocal documents from a
meeting between Unocal and Total officials observed that there were
"rebels" and migrating refugees in BurmaÆs Tenasserim region, where the
pipeline was being built. "The Myanmar Army claims that despite these
people," the documents noted, "they have an area æsecuredÆ only along
the proposed pipeline route. . . . [T]he Burmese Army claims to have
æmany battalionsÆ in the area, based in Kaleinaung, with up to 200
troops in the mountain jungle area near the border along the pipeline
route." A 1995 Unocal memorandum indicated in greater detail the extent
of the armyÆs pipeline security arrangements: "Four battalions of 600
men each will protect the corridor. Col Zaw Tun has a total of 10
battalions under command and is most confident about [the militaryÆs]
ability to protect the . . . pipeline route. Fifty soldiers will be
assigned to guard each [company] survey team."
The use of the Burmese military to provide pipeline security made it
apparent to informed sources that the project would result in forced
labor and other violent abuses. In 1995, for example, a consultant wrote
this striking passage to Unocal:
"[M]y conclusion is that egregious human rights violations have
occurred, and are occurring now, in southern Burma. The most common are
forced relocation without compensation of families from land near/along
the pipeline route; forced labor to work on infrastructure projects
supporting the pipeline (the SLORC calls this government service in lieu
of payment of taxes); and imprisonment and/or execution by the army of
those opposing such actions. Unocal, by seeming to have accepted SLORCÆs
version of events, appears at best naive and at worst a willing partner
in the situation."
In 1996, Unocal also was told by Total about the abuses. Total wrote to
Unocal that "the troops assigned to the protection of our operations
used forced labor to build their camps and to carry their equipment[.]"
"[W]hen we had knowledge of such occurrences," Total said, "the workers
have been compensated." (TotalÆs concession notwithstanding, payment is
irrelevant to the definition of forced labor as a human rights
violation. That definition turns instead on how the labor is procured.)
And from the highest level of UnocalÆs hierarchy comes acknowledgement
of this use of forced labor. "I am sure that the military uses
conscripted labor for portage," admitted UnocalÆs former president John
For the plaintiffs in Doe v. Unocal, the legal struggle for justice will
take more time. Meanwhile, as Judge LewÆs opinion authoritatively
confirms, there can no longer be any doubt that UnocalÆs involvement in
Burma is morally reprehensible. The victimsÆ voices have finally been
heard, and Unocal is forever shamed.
Jed Greer works with EarthRights Internationl (ERI) and is co-author of
"Total Denial Continues." Tyler Giannini is a director and a founder of
ERI and also co-author of "Total Denial Continues." ERI is co-counsel in
Doe v. Unocal.
_____________________ OTHER ______________________
NCGUB: PM Dr. Sein Win Leads New Council of Ministers and Khun Teddi
Buri as President of MPU
National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma
Established in Dublin, Ireland
7 October 2000
Prime Minister Dr. Sein Win
Council of Ministers
Dr. Tint Swe Education and Health
Khun Manko Ban Federal Affairs U Thein Oo
Human Rights U
Maung Maung Aye Information & Public Relations
Dr. Sann Aung Prime Minister's Office
(East) U Mya Win Prime Minister's
Office (West) U Bo Hla-Tint Minister
without Portfolio U Tha Noe
Minister without Portfolio
Foreign Affairs Committee (headed by Prime Minister) Khun
U Bo Hla-Tint
Dr. Sann Aung
Dr. Tint Swe
Sai Win Pay
Federal Affairs Committee (headed by Khun Manko Ban) U
U Lian Uk
U Thang Lian Pau
U Tha Noe
U Thein Oo
Human Rights Affairs Committee (headed by U Thein Oo)
U Maung Maung Latt
Democratic Development Affairs Committee (headed by Prime Minister) U
U Hla Oo
U Bo Thaung
Dr. Sann Aung
Information and Public Relations Committee (headed by U Maung Maung
Aye) U Tin Tut
Finance Committee (headed by U Bo Hla-Tint)
Members to be named
------------- ------------ ------------- ---------------
Members of Parliament Union
Established 4 October 2000
President: Khun Teddy Buri Loikaw-2
NLD Vice President: U Daniel Aung Mong Ping
LNDP Secretary: U Maung Maung Latt Bilin-1
U Bo Hla-Tint Mogok-2 NLD
U Bo Thaung Yinmabin-1 NLD
U Hla Oo Kyauktaga NLD
U Lian Uk Haka
Khun Manko Ban Pekon DOKNU
U Maung Maung Aye Mandalay NE-1 NLD
U Mya Win Ingabu-1 NLD
Dr. Sein Win Paukkaung PND
Dr. Sann Aung Ingabu-2 Ind.
U Than Sein Pale-1 NLD
U Thang Lian Pau Tonzang ZNC
U Tha Noe Rathedaung ALD
U Thein Oo Mandalay SW-2 NLD
Dr. Tint Swe Pale-2 NLD
U Tin Tut Einme-1 NLD
Sai Win Pay Mong Hsu SNLD
ALD Arakan League for Democracy
DOKNU Democratic Organization for Kayan National Unity
LNDP Lahu National Development Party
NLD National League for Democracy
PND Party for National Democracy
SNLD Shan Nationalities League for Democracy
ZNC Zomi National Congress
American Musuem of Natural History: Burmese Marionette Puppet Show
At the American Musuem of Natural History (Central Park West & 79th St)
on Sat 10/21 & Sun 10/22 there will be a performance by the Mandalay
Marionettes featuring Shwebo Tin Maung. This is a New York debut!!!!
Both performances are at the Kaufmann Theater which is on the first
floor. There is no seperate admission fee or reservations required. The
AMNH admission is whatever you want to pay. They have a "suggested"
donation, but you pay what you want to.
Showtimes are: Sat @ 7pm and Sun @ 1pm (I will most likely go to this
one if I do not have the baby by then!)
If you want to attend a special workshop (also free) on how the puppets
are moved, it is being given on Sat. 10/21 from 1-3pm. There is a
limited space so you must call in advance and reserve a space Tel.
#769-5200. You must also give this code # for the workshop ED00220M
See you there!!!
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