French Oil Giant TOTAL to Continue Operations in Burma

Total SA is one of the biggest foreign investors in Burma. Per Pravda, "A spokeswoman for Total told Dow Jones Newswires that Total had no intention of leaving because a "forced retreat" would open the way for competitors to take its place." (The French retreat from everything except the advance of democracy.)

Wiki: Although Total claims to maintain a "socially responsible investment" program, there has been recent controversy over its corporate involvement in Burma, despite recent European Union sanctions on new investment in the country due to its poor human rights record. Democratic activists have accused Total of propping up that country's brutal military junta...Total is currently involved in a joint venture with the military regime developing an offshore gas field in the Andaman Sea. The Burmese government in exile also criticises Total for allegedly funding rape, murder and genocide in Burma, as a result of hiring members of the military to guard their pipeline.

Total has been taken to court by six Burmese people who claimed they were used as forced labour in the preparation of Total's pipeline in Burma. Total paid the villages to drop the case in 2005. In 2005 a 14 year old girl was allegedly gang raped by sixteen members of the Burmese army employed by Total to guard their pipeline. Many activists feel Total has not taken adequate steps to bring those responsible to account.

Seawitch says: The courageous people of Burma are mostly employing peaceful tactics to gain their freedom from the military junta. They are being met with clubs, bullets, clubs, batons, tear gas and now the junta has taken away the most potent weapon the Burmese people have: the internet. She urges readers to contact the Chinese embassy.

MVRWC notes a new type of online protest:

How to participate:

1. Copy the following post to your blog, including this special number: 1081081081234

2. After a few days, you can search Google for the number 1081081081234 to find all blogs that are participating in this protest and petition.

Text below the fold:

The situation in Burma is increasingly dangerous. Hundreds of thousands of unarmed peaceful protesters, including monks and nuns, are risking their lives to march for democracy against an unpopular but well-armed military dictatorship that will stop at nothing to continue its repressive rule. While the generals in power and their families are literally dripping in gold and diamonds, the people of Burma are impoverished, deprived of basic human rights, cut off from the rest of the world, and increasingly under threat of violence.

This week the people of Burma have risen up collectively in the largest public demonstrations against the ruling Junta in decades. Itís an amazing show of bravery, decency, and democracy in action. But although these protests are peaceful, the military rulers are starting to crack down with violence. Already there have been at least several reported deaths, and hundreds of critical injuries from soldiers beating unarmed civilians to the point of death.

The actual fatalities and injuries are probably far worse, but the only news we have is coming from individuals who are sneaking reports past the authorities. Unfortunately it looks like a large-scale blood-bath may ensue ó and the victims will be mostly women, children, the elderly and unarmed monks and nuns.

Contrary to what the Burmese, Chinese and Russian governments have stated, this is not merely a local internal political issue, it is an issue of global importance and it affects the global community. As concerned citizens, we cannot allow any government anywhere in the world to use its military to attack and kill peacefully demonstrating, unarmed citizens.

In this modern day and age violence against unarmed civilians is unacceptable and if it is allowed to happen, without serious consequences for the perpetrators, it creates a precedent for it to happen again somewhere else. If we want a more peaceful world, it is up to each of us to make a personal stand on these fundamental issues whenever they arise.

Please join me in calling on the Burmese government to negotiate peacefully with its citizens, and on China to intervene to prevent further violence. And please help to raise awareness of the developing situation in Burma so that hopefully we can avert a large-scale human disaster there.

Posted by: JaneNovak at 03:49 PM

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