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BurmaNet News: October 3, 2001

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
          October 3, 2001   Issue # 1890
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

NOTED IN PASSING: "While Unocal turns its back on the conditions 
surrounding its pipeline, its partners, the illegal military junta, are 
torturing, killing, raping, and enslaving thousands of people."

Nobel Laureates Jody Williams, Jose Ramos Horta, Rigoberta Menchu, The 
Dalai Llama, Oscar Arias and Betty Williams.  See An open letter to the 
University of Virginia [condemning Unocal and calling for divestment]

*AFP: Myanmar authorities confiscate WTC attack video nasties 
*BurmaNet: Burmese language news magazines in Burma cover terrorist 

MONEY _______
*Xinhua: Myanmar's Foreign Trade Up Sharply in First Half of 2001
*Xinhua: Foreign Investment in Myanmar Down 40 Percent in Six Months
*Xinhua: Myanmar's Plywood Production Down in First Half of 2001
*Xinhua: Myanmar's Sapphire Production Drops in First Half of 2001

*AFP: Twenty anti-government rebels exchange arms for peace 

*Reuters: S'pore confirms Ne Win visit, counters death talk
*Kyodo: Former Myanmar leader Ne Win in Singapore after heart attack 
*Reuters: U.N. sees some progress in Myanmar but wants more
*Bangkok Post: Friendship group plans trip to Burma next Tuesday 
*Bangkok Post: Burma and Malaysia forge closer relations 

*Free Burma Coalition: Nobel Laureates Declare Support for Divestment 
from Burma
*Jody Williams, Jose Ramos Horta, Rigoberta Menchu, The Dalai Llama, 
Oscar Arias, Betty Williams: An open letter to the University of 
Virginia [condemning Unocal and calling for divestment]

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

AFP: Myanmar authorities confiscate WTC attack video nasties 

YANGON, Oct 3 (AFP) - Myanmar authorities have confiscated pirated 
videos of the World Trade Centre attacks from Yangon markets, sources 
said Wednesday as the junta accused "unscrupulous" businessmen of 
exploiting the tragedy. 

 A commentary carried in the state media said the shocking scenes were 
being illegally copied from satellite television and sold at "exorbitant 
prices" to the general public. 

 The commentary also admonished "greedy entrepreneurs" who were accused 
of manipulating the prices of gold and black-market US currency in the 
wake of the terrorist strikes. 

 Sources told AFP that the pirated tapes were confiscated on the grounds 
that they had not passed official censorship. 

 The interest in footage of last month's attacks is likely due to the 
state media's cursory coverage of the events which captured the interest 
and sympathy of the entire world, including people in military-run 

 The official press made only a passing mention of the terrorist strikes 
and the the ruling junta even delayed for several days the public 
release of a letter of condolence sent by the nation's leader Senior 
General Than Shwe to US President George W. Bush. 


BurmaNet: Burmese language news magazines in Burma cover terrorist 

October 3, 2001

The state press may be silent on the September 11 terrorist attacks but 
Burmese language magazines are providing graphic coverage of the attacks 
and the buildup to a US-led attack in Afghanistan.  A survey of 
magazines available at a Burmese town along the border with Burma found 
coverage in several magazines and newspapers, including a full color 
cover story in one magazine.  In addition to coverage in the privately 
owned Burmese language press, the availability of Thailand's UBC 
satellite television service in towns along the border has resulted in 
footage of the attacks being widely viewed there.

BurmaNet was not able to find copies of World Trade Center video but the 
availability of western movies in DVD format has noticeably increased in 
the last half year.  Burmese language movies on VHS tape rent for 
approximately 10-15 kyat along the border while western and Chinese 
movies run about twice that price.  The range of western movies for rent 
is limited but a fairly wide range of western movies on DVD are for sale 
at prices ranging from 1000 to 1500 kyat.  Burmese language movies all 
bear a stamp from the "Board of Video Censor" but foreign language VCD's 
are routinely available with no evident attempt at censorship.


Xinhua: Myanmar's Foreign Trade Up Sharply in First Half of 2001

YANGON, October 1 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar's foreign trade, including the 
border trade, totaled 2,758.86 million U.S. dollars in the first half of 
this year, up 93.14 percent from the same period of 2000, the country's 
Central Statistical Organization ( CSO) said in its latest data. Of the 
total trade volume during the first six-month period, imports were 
valued at 1,541 million dollars, increasing by 13.95 percent, while 
exports amounted to 1,217.86 million dollars, rising by 58.76 percent. 
However, the trade deficit stood at 323.14 million dollars, the CSO 
said. During the period, the import value of consumers goods, 
intermediate goods and capital goods accounted for 38.5 percent, 30.9 
percent and 30.6 percent of the otal imports respectively. The data show 
that there are 14 countries and regions in the world with which Myanmar 
is mainly trading. Of them, Thailand, Singapore, China, South Korea and 
Japan stand in the leading position in Myanmar's international trade. 

The statistics also show that Myanmar's bilateral trade with five member 
countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) -- 
Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines -- totaled 
1,262.57 million dollars in the first half of this year, up 50.34 
percent from the same period of 2000. The regional bilateral trade 
accounted for 45.76 percent of Myanmar's total foreign trade during the 
six-month period with its import from these ASEAN members representing 
727.14 million dollars and its exports taking up 535.43 million dollars. 
The figures also indicate that Myanmar's private sector is playing a 
leading role in the country's foreign trade. During the period, the 
import value of the private sector made up 934.48 million dollars or 
60.64 percent of the total imports, while its export value represented 
610 million dollars or 50.08 percent of the total exports. 


Xinhua: Foreign Investment in Myanmar Down 40 Percent in Six Months

YANGON, October 2 (Xinhua) -- Foreign investment in Myanmar totaled 
44.49 million U.S. dollars in nine projects in the first half of this 
year, reducing by 40 percent from the same period of 2000, according to 
the latest figures issued by the country's Central Statistical 
Organization. Of the investment, which came from seven countries and 
regions during the period, Thailand took the lead with 25.75 million 
dollars, followed by China's Hong Kong (7.5 million ), South Korea (4.21 
million), Singapore (3.53 million), Malaysia and Indonesia ( 1.5 million 
each) and Canada (0.5 million). Of the sectors injected by these foreign 
investment, construction stood the highest with 20.5 million dollars, 
followed by manufacturing (18.24 million), hotels and tourism (5.25 
million) and mining (0.5 million). Meanwhile, investment drawn 
specifically from member states of the Association of Southeast Asian 
Nations (ASEAN) amounted to 32. 28 million dollars in five projects 
during the first six-month period, taking up 72.55 percent of Myanmar's 
total foreign investment. 

In 2000, there came a total of 152.8 million dollars' foreign investment 
in Myanmar from nine countries and regions, mainly from South Korea, 
Britain, China and Canada. These investment during the year were mostly 
injected into the sectors of manufacturing, oil and gas, and 
agriculture. According to official statistics, since opening to foreign 
investment in late 1988, Myanmar had drawn a total of such contracted 
investment of 7,385.253 million dollars in 365 projects as of the end of 
June 2001. Of the leading foreign investors, Singapore ranked the first 
with 1,507.53 million dollars, followed by Britain with 1,401 million 
and Thailand with 1,289.75 million.


Xinhua: Myanmar's Plywood Production Down in First Half of 2001

YANGON, October 1 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar's plywood production went down by 
32 percent, yielding 3.96 million square-meters in the first half of 
this year as compared with the same period of 2000 when it registered 
5.83 million square-meters, according to the latest data of the 
government-issued Economic Indicators. During the six-month period, the 
country earned 6.81 million U. S. dollars' foreign exchange through the 
export of plywood and veneer, 20.25 percent less than the corresponding 
period of 2000. In 2000, Myanmar produced 8.649 million square-meters 
plywood and exported 117 million dollars' worth of the goods. 

Timber is known as Myanmar's second largest export goods after 
agricultural products and foreign exchange earned through the export of 
timber accounted for about 20 percent of Myanmar's total export earning. 
The country exported 154,942.5 cubic-meters of teak and 149,141 
cubic-meters of hardwood in the first half of this year, earning a total 
of 116 million dollars, the statistics also show. Myanmar's forest 
covers 50 percent of its total land area, of which 18.6 percent are 
reserved and protected public forest. The percentage of it is being 
targeted to increase to 30.


Xinhua: Myanmar's Sapphire Production Drops in First Half of 2001

YANGON, October 3 (Xinhua) -- The production of Myanmar's sapphire 
reached 2.643 million carats in the first half of this year, down by 5.2 
percent from the same period of 2000, according to the latest figures 
published by the country's Central Statistical Organization. However, 
ruby production went to 1.184 million carats during the period, up 13.19 
percent from the same period of 2000. In addition, the country produced 
69.645 tons of jade during the six-month period. Since its sapphire, 
ruby and jade are well known in the world, Myanmar put them on sale 
along with pearl and jewelry at its annual and mid-year gems emporiums 
through competitive bidding, earning huge foreign exchange every year. 
The state-sponsored emporiums allowed private gems merchants to 
participate in and sell their gems products in recent years. 

According to official statistics, the country has earned a total of over 
330 million U.S. dollars from the last 38 annual and nine mid-year gems 
emporiums which attracted annually hundreds of gems traders from over a 
dozen countries and regions, mostly from China's Hong Kong, Thailand, 
Japan and Singapore. The annual events, which are usually held in March, 
started in 1964, while the mid-year ones, which used to take place in 
October, were introduced in addition since 1992 to boost the country's 
gems sale. Myanmar enacted the New Gemstone Law in September 1995, 
allowing national entrepreneurs to mine, produce, transport and sell 
finished gemstones and manufactured jewelry at home and abroad. Since 
April 2000, the government has reportedly started mining of gems and 
jade in joint venture with 10 private companies under profit sharing 


AFP: Twenty anti-government rebels exchange arms for peace 

BANGKOK, Oct 2 (AFP) - Twenty guerrillas fighting Myanmar's military 
junta surrendered last month, state-run media quoted the defence 
ministry as saying Tuesday. 

 They surrendered separately to three army commands and gave up their 
arms, Radio Yangon said, citing the ministry's monthly report. 

 The guerrillas included remnants of former opium drug lord Khun Sa's 
Mong Tai Army and members of militant pro-democracy student groups as 
well as ethnic Karen and Rakhine minorities. 

 They surrendered after "realising the junta goodwill activities for 
them and their destructive acts did not benefit the nation at all for a 
long time", according to the report. 

 The militant student groups set up mobile camps in the jungles along 
the border areas by pro-democracy students who fled Yangon and other 
major cities after the current regime took power in a bloody coup in 

 Dozens of ethnic insurgency groups have been fighting the Yangon regime 
for autonomy since the country gained independence from Britain in 1948. 

 But many of them signed ceasefire agreements with the ruling military 
for development assistance in their regions. 


___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

Reuters: S'pore confirms Ne Win visit, counters death talk

SINGAPORE, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Singapore confirmed on Wednesday former 
Myanmar military leader Ne Win was in the city state on a private visit 
but said it knew of nothing to substantiate rumours in Yangon that the 
91-year-old had died. 

 Ne Win, who ruled the reclusive country for more than 25 years, has 
suffered strokes in the past and at times travelled secretly to 
Singapore for medical treatment since relinquishing formal power in 
 ``We understand that General Ne Win is currently in Singapore for a 
private visit. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not aware of his 
programme here,'' a ministry spokesman told Reuters. 

 ``Concerning the rumours that he has passed away, the Ministry of 
Foreign Affairs is aware of such rumours. We do not think it is true.'' 

 Talk of Ne Win's death circulated in Myanmar's capital on Wednesday, 
the latest rumours in recent times that he had died. 

 A source close to Ne Win's family told Reuters from Yangon on Monday 
that he ``left for Singapore for medical treatment on September 29.'' 

 Myanmar's embassy in Singapore declined to confirm whether Ne Win was 
in the city state. Singapore General Hospital said his family had 
requested that his whereabouts be kept secret. 

 Ne Win, then army commander, seized power in a coup in 1962 and ruled 
the country until 1988, when he relinquished the leadership of the Burma 
Socialist Programme Party. 

 Under his system of a ``Burmese Way to Socialism,'' the country went 
from one of Asia's richest nations to one of the poorest. 

 Although he no longer had a formal political role, Ne Win is believed 
to command influence among the current military rulers. 

 His last public appearance was in March, when he held a party at a 
Yangon hotel and provided brunch for 99 monks. 

 Ne Win believes the number nine has mystical significance and in 1987 
replaced Myanmar's banknotes with denominations which are multiples of 
nine, such as 45-kyat and 90-kyat notes. 


Kyodo: Former Myanmar leader Ne Win in Singapore after heart attack 

SINGAPORE, Oct. 3, Kyodo - Former Myanmar military leader Ne Win was 
rushed to Singapore for medical treatment last week after suffering a 
heart attack, informed sources said Wednesday.  

The 91-year-old general was in a serious condition when he checked in at 
a Singapore hospital but has now recovered and is expected to return to 
Myanmar soon, the sources told Kyodo News.  

A Singapore Foreign Ministry spokesman only said that Ne Win is in 
Singapore on a private visit.  

''We know that he's in Singapore but it's more of a private visit. As to 
his passing away, there are rumors, but we don't know whether they are 
true or not,'' the spokesman said. 


Reuters: U.N. sees some progress in Myanmar but wants more

Tuesday October 2, 11:38 PM

By Aung Hla Tun 

YANGON (Reuters) - The United Nations on Tuesday welcomed efforts by 
Myanmar's ruling military to improve human rights in the country, but 
repeated calls for the release of all political prisoners.  

A report written by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the special rapporteur of the 
commission for human rights, also said more needed to be done for 
national reconciliation.  

"There have been some 'positive signals'...indicating the Government's 
efforts to make progress," a U.N. press release said quoting Pinheiro.  

"Those efforts include the dissemination of human rights standards for 
public officials, progress by the governmental Committee on Human Rights 
and releases of political detainees," it added.  

But the statement went on to say Pinheiro had repeated calls for the 
release of political detainees and for more to be done for ethnic 
minorities and other vulnerable groups.  
"With a sizeable number of political prisoners still in detention...the 
special rapporteur stresses again that only the full release of such 
individuals will pave the way to national reconciliation."  

Pinheiro's report covered the situation in Myanmar from January up to 
mid-August this year having paid his first official visit to the country 
in April. He was appointed U.N. Special Rapporteur in February.  

Rocky relations between the military and Aung San Suu Kyi's National 
League for Democracy (NLD) appear to have improved slightly over the 
last year as the two sides continue landmark political talks, although 
many obstacles remain.  

Suu Kyi's NLD won Myanmar's last election in 1990 by a landslide but it 
has never been allowed to govern while her party members have been 
detained and harassed by the military.  

The military government says it has released around 170 members of the 
NLD, but Amnesty International says there are 1,500 political detainees 
in Myanmar.  
Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, has been under de facto 
house arrest for more than a year. Last week her party demanded their 
leader's immediate and unconditional release.  

The party also reaffirmed the mandate of Suu Kyi and NLD Chairman Aung 
Shwe to carry on their duties in working for the emergence of democracy 
in Myanmar. 


Bangkok Post: Friendship group plans trip to Burma next Tuesday 

October 03, 2001.

Sa-nguan Khumrungroj 

A Thai-Burmese friendship group will visit Burma next Tuesday to promote 
business and cultural ties. 

Gen Sanan Kajornklam, secretary-general of the Thai-Burmese Cultural and 
Economic Co-operation Association, said the three-day trip was to 
promote cultural exchange and enhance trade, fishery and tourism ties in 
talks with their Burmese counterparts, led by Kyaw Than, Burma's former 
air force commander-in-chief. 

The group expects to meet Burmese ministers in charge of trade, 
industry, culture, and hotel and tourism, as well as Brig-Gen David 
Abel, minister attached to the Office of the Chairman of the State Peace 
and Development Council. 

The two countries would hold a trade fair at the Burmese border town of 
Tachilek, opposite Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district, next January, Gen 
Sanan said. 

The visit by the 19-strong group will be the first organised by the 
association, which was set up to promote bilateral ties between Thailand 
and Burma. 

The association's president is Pat Akkanibutr, a retired general. 

Most of its 120 members are close to the New Aspiration party of 
Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, the defence minister. Gen Sanan is secretary to 
the defence minister's advisory group. Gen Sanan yesterday quoted Lt-Gen 
Khin Nyunt, first secretary of the ruling State Peace and Development 
Council, as telling the Burmese media that such friendship associations 
provided a channel for the private sectors of the two countries to boost 
understanding and cultural ties.


Bangkok Post: Burma and Malaysia forge closer relations 

 October 03, 2001.

Mahathir Mohamad has been a strong defender of the Burmese junta, and 
now Rangoon is looking at KL as a political model.  LARRY JAGAN 

Burmese military leader General Than Shwe and his country's intelligence 
chief, Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, have just returned from a 
three-day official visit to Malaysia where politics and economics were 
top of the agenda. 

Although ostensibly in reciprocation of Malaysian Prime Minister 
Mahathir Mohamad's visit to Rangoon in January, the trip was much more 
important than that, particularly as it came at a crucial time in the 
Burmese junta's talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi _ when a 
breakthrough is becoming more and more possible. 

Burma's generals are increasingly turning to Malaysia for advice: both 
on politics and economics. Dr Mahathir has proved to be a trusted ally. 
Whenever Burma is criticised internationally, Dr Mahathir leaps to the 
defence of the generals. 

And politics was certainly high on the agenda in Kuala Lumpur. After 
briefing Dr Mahathir, Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Alber told 
journalists that Burma should be allowed to introduce democratic change 
at its own pace, free from international pressure. 

This has been Dr Mahathir's position all along. The Malaysian prime 
minister, according to senior foreign ministry officials, has always 
backed the Burmese leaders publicly while urging them in private to 
accommodate opposition leader Suu Kyi and introduce democratic reform. 

Diplomats in Rangoon believe it was Dr Mahathir's intervention behind 
the scenes last year that led to Rangoon starting the dialogue process 
in the first place. The United Nations envoy to Burma, Razali Ismail of 
Malaysia, who has acted as a facilitator for the talks, is known to be 
close to Dr Mahathir and has his full backing. 

Observers believe Mr Razali's periodic trips to Rangoon have helped the 
talks move forward. Government officials in Kuala Lumpur said Dr 
Mahathir urged Gen Than Shwe in Kuala Lumpur to allow the UN envoy to 
make more frequent visits to help build up the momentum for democratic 

Dr Mahathir has made no secret that he feels Burma must be allowed to 
adopt political change in its own way and that constant international 
criticism is harmful to that process. He also has said that the junta 
should introduce political reforms appropriate to Burmese conditions and 
not slavishly adopt a western model of democracy. 

Burma's generals are looking for political models to adopt as they begin 
to grapple with what sort of political change is acceptable. Indonesia's 
constitution was once regarded as the model, but when former president 
Suharto was thrown from power three years ago, Burma's generals began to 
look elsewhere. 
Dr Mahathir has promised Burma's military rulers all the help he can 
give them, and has suggested that his United Malaysian National 
Organisation political machine may provide a useful model. There is no 
doubt that Burma's senior leaders took the opportunity of learning how 
Umno works in practice and how the organisation has ensured political 
stability in the country. 

But economics more than politics was the chief concern of the Burmese 
leaders while they were in Malaysia. Government officials said improving 
economic ties with Burma was a key priority of the Dr Mahathir's 
government. That's something the Burmese were also anxious to emphasise. 

Gen Than Shwe spent much of his trip exploring ways of boosting 
bilateral trade and investment, especially in the fishing, 
manufacturing, petroleum and tourism sectors. 
He visited the Multi-media Super Corridor _ Malaysia's equivalent to 
California's Silicon Valley _ in Putrajaya just outside Kuala Lumpur as 
well as the country's premier island resort Langkawi. 

The two countries signed memorandums of understanding on tourism and 
information exchange. But more crucially, they discussed ways of 
increasing bilateral trade. A senior Malaysian official said that during 
their talks the two countries agreed it was necessary to boost trade 
across the Southeast Asian region to counter the likely downturn in the 
US economy following the Sept 11 attacks on New York and Washington. 

The Malaysian foreign minister said after the talks that Burma and 
Malaysia were exploring ways in which a form of barter trade could be 
conducted, rather than constantly using foreign exchange for bilateral 

After all, Burma has very limited foreign reserves and is keen to 
conduct trade on a more informal basis. That is how much of the trade 
with China is conducted. Thailand and Burma also are currently looking 
at how trade might be conducted on that basis _ at least border trade. 
The two trade ministers discussed this several months ago and, according 
to Thai government officials, are close to reaching agreement after the 
recent visit by Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt to Bangkok. 

Trade between Burma and Malaysia is worth around $200 million (893 
million baht) _ in Malaysia's favour. At present Malaysia is Burma's 
third largest investor, with nearly $600 million (26.8 billion baht) 
invested in manufacturing, oil and gas, tourism and real estate. The 
Malaysian government expects investment in Burma to increase 
significantly in the near future. 

Gen Than Shwe appealed to Malaysian businessmen to relocate their labour 
intensive industries to Burma to make use of the cheap labour. This is 
reminiscent of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's plans to relocate 
some of Thailand's industries across the border. 
Construction and tourism are the areas most likely to be targetted by 
new Malaysia investment, according to analysts. Sources in Kuala Lumpur 
say the two countries are discussing ways to co-operate further in the 
field of tourism. That is probably why Gen Than Shwe and his delegation 
visited Dr Mahathir's pet project, the tourist resort of Langkawi _ 
which lies just south of Burma in the Andaman sea. The Malaysian 
government is interested in linking the two areas into a major tourist 
development project. 

But Malaysian involvement in Burma's timber industry is already 
beginning to raise concerns amongst environmental groups. There has been 
heavy investment by Chinese Malaysians in the logging industry in Kachin 
state; the timber is then exported to China. Recent visitors to the area 
say trees are being felled at an alarming rate, fuelling fears that 
there will lasting ecological damage to the region. 

Larry Jagan is the BBC's regional editor for the Asia-Pacific Region. He 
is currently based in Bangkok


Free Burma Coalition: Nobel Laureates Declare Support for Divestment 
from Burma

October 2, 2001

Move at University of Virginia "Unprecedented" in History of Student 

(Charlottesville, Virginia) In a move unprecedented in the history of 
student activism, six Nobel Peace Prize Laureates have written an open 
letter to the University of Virginia Board of Visitors calling on the 
administration to divest its holding in Unocal, a California-based oil 
company. The letter supports a resolution passed by the UVA Student 
Council last March and a subsequent resolution on September 18th, both 
of which called for the UVA Board of Visitors to divest the University?s 
50,000 shares of stock in Unocal on account of the company?s complicity 
in human rights abuses in Burma. 

"While Unocal turns its back on the conditions surrounding its pipeline, 
its partners, the illegal military junta, are torturing, killing, 
raping, and enslaving thousands of people," read the letter, which was 
signed by Betty Williams (Ireland 1976), Oscar Arias (Costa Rica 1986), 
His Holiness, The Dalai Llama (Tibet 1989), Rigoberta Menchu Tum 
(Guatemala 1992), Jose Ramos Horta (East Timor 1996), and Jody Williams 
(USA 1997-International Campaign to Ban Landmines). The laureates became 
interested in UVA after speaking at a conference November 5-6, 1998 
entitled "Bringing Together Great Hearts and Minds." Burma?s elected 
leader and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has called 
on companies such as Unocal to leave Burma but could not attend the 1998 
conference because the country?s military dictatorship holds her under 
house arrest. 

"We wrote to the Laureates to ask for their support on this initiative 
to demonstrate that UVA students, staff, and faculty are not the only 
ones who find Unocal?s actions in Burma to be detestable" said Andrew 
Price, President of the Virginia chapter of the Free Burma Coalition. 
"The University did not tolerate financial support of South African 
Apartheid in the 1980s and it should not tolerate slavery in Burma 

EarthRights International, a Washington, DC-based non-governmental human 
rights organization led by UVA law school graduates Katie Redford and 
Tyler Gianini sued Unocal in a precedent-setting case on behalf of 12 
Burmese villagers who have suffered abuses as a result of the pipeline 
project. Two of the plaintiffs were severely sexually assaulted and one 
plaintiff?s infant died after being kicked into a cooking fire by 
Burmese soldiers providing security and building infrastructure for the 

"This is an extraordinary and unprecedented move for the student-based 
Free Burma movement," said Jeremy Woodrum, Director of the Washington 
office of the Free Burma Coalition. "The University of Virginia would 
join the ranks of some of the world's most prominent schools that have 
already cut ties to companies that prop up Burma?s brutal regime." 

Students at Harvard University, American University, University of 
California, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin, Bucknell 
University, and the London School of Economics convinced their schools 
to take action against companies operating in Burma. Last April the 
movement grew rapidly, as students at 95 colleges and universities 
fasted for 24 hours, calling for their universities to stop doing 
business with Burma. 

For More Information:

Jeremy Woodrum, Washington Director of the Free Burma Coalition 
Editor?s note: Please contact EarthRights Int?l for detailed information 
on Unocal in Burma, 202.466.5188 


Jody Williams, Jose Ramos Horta, Rigoberta Menchu, The Dalai Llama, 
Oscar Arias, Betty Williams: An open letter to the University of 
Virginia [condemning Unocal and calling for divestment]

As participants in the 1999 Nobel Peace Laureate Conference, we have 
great respect and admiration for the University of Virginia. By virtue 
of its exceptional academic program and the focus on civil liberties, as 
prescribed by Thomas Jefferson, we know that the University produces 
some of the finest young people in the country. 

Notably absent from the conference was our fellow laureate, Daw Aung San 
Suu Kyi of Burma. Despite having received the Nobel Peace Prize and 
leading her party to victory in a national election, she remains under 
house arrest. For merely advocating the liberties that many people 
worldwide already enjoy, the regime has brutally isolated her from her 
family, friends, and colleagues. She has consistently asked for 
international support for her struggle and specifically asked all 
companies to leave Burma. On numerous occasions, she has made statements 
such as "Until we have a system that guarantees the rule of law and 
basic democratic institutions, no amount of aid or foreign investment 
will benefit our people." Indeed, the outside world has a moral 
obligation to help Suu Kyi's fight for democracy.

Thus, we are writing to pledge support of the March 27th, 2001 Student 
Council resolution to divest University of Virginia assets from Unocal. 
Its pipeline will remain the lifeline by which the regime can cling to 
power and keep Suu Kyi under house arrest. While Unocal turns its back 
on the conditions surrounding its pipeline, its partners, the illegal 
military junta, are torturing, killing, raping, and enslaving thousands 
of people.  
We, Aung San Suu Kyi's fellow Peace Laureates, remain steadfast in our 
support of her courageous struggle to restore democracy and human rights 
to Burma. Just as the divestment campaign against South Africa helped 
bring down apartheid, so too will your action help free Aung San Suu Kyi 
and restore democracy and the rule of law in Burma.


Jody Williams (USA 1997)
Jose Ramos Horta (East Timor 1996)
Rigoberta Menchu Tum (Guatemala 1992)
His Holiness, The Dalai Llama (Tibet 1989)
Oscar Arias (Costa Rica 1986)
Betty Williams (Ireland 1976)


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