We, the European Burma solidarity groups listed below, support the call for economic sanctions on Burma issued by the European Parliament on 18 July 1996.
We welcome the good example set by Carlsberg and Heineken in deciding to withdraw from Burma. We support the request by the democratically elected representatives of the Burmese people that international companies should not invest in Burma at this time.
The French oil company Total’s natural gas pipeline project now underway in Burma is one clear example, and has become the focal point of domestic and European debate over the acceptability of foreign investment in the country. The project raises serious concerns about human rights, international environmental standards, corporate responsibility and the rights of indigenous peoples to control and exploit the resources in their traditional lands.
We urge Total to suspend operations in Burma until such time as deemed acceptable by the democratically elected representatives of the country led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. She stated recently that “Investors should not come, since all the money goes to an elite, I would like to mention the French company Total, which has become the strongest support of the Burmese military system. This is not the moment to invest here”. (Le Monde, July 1996).
The recent report “Total Denial” produced by Earthrights International and the Southeast Asia Information Network, states that infrastructure and security arrangements in the region of the proposed pipeline have involved human rights abuses; killings, forced labour, including that of women and children, forced relocation of villages, beatings and other forms of inhuman treatment.
We protest strongly the EU Council of Ministers “welcome” of Burma into the Asian Regional Forum at this time. This move marks an abandonment of the principled stand expressed in the European Parliament resolution, which called for the Commission and the Council to express the European Union’s deep disquiet at recent developments in Burma when, on the 22nd of July, they met with the ASEAN regional forum. The resolution invited the ASEAN countries not to accept Burma as a full member of the forum.
Burma Action Group Ireland
Burma Action Group UK
Burma Bureau, Germany
Burma Centre Netherlands
Danish Burma Committee
KWIA, Flemish Support Group Indigenous Peoples
Society for Threatened Peoples