August 24, 2004

Arnold Laver, DLH, James Latham and Robbins Timber among those joining new Burma ‘Dirty List’

Twenty-one companies involved in the timber industry are named and shamed in a new ‘Dirty List’ published by the Burma Campaign UK today. A total of 95 companies feature on the list. The ‘Dirty List’ exposes companies that are directly or indirectly helping to finance Burma’s brutal military dictatorship.

The addition of so many timber companies on the list marks the start of a new phase of campaigning on Burmese timber by the Burma Campaign UK. All Burmese teak is owned by the dictatorship, so any Burmese teak sold in the UK is benefiting the regime financially.

“The timber industry needs to understand that they must stop selling Burmese teak,” says John Jackson, Director of the Burma Campaign. “This is not about improving standards or changing the way Burmese teak is produced. There is no way to sell Burmese teak without the regime benefiting. The sales must stop.”

The new focus on Burmese timber comes after years of campaigning for a boycott of clothing from Burma. The campaign has been very successful, with over 150 major clothing retailers and manufacturers now refusing to source clothes from Burma. The Burma Campaign is hoping the timber industry will follow their example.

Initially most of the timber companies added to list have been placed there on the basis of information on the Timber Trade Federation website. Further research to identify all companies importing and selling Burmese teak will follow in the coming year. The Burma Campaign UK has been encouraged by the response of some companies. Covers are reviewing their purchasing policy, and John Boddy timber has already decided not to sell Burmese teak in future.

“Companies sourcing teak from Burma are helping to keep Burma’s military dictatorship in power,” said John Jackson, Director of the Burma Campaign UK. “Foreign investment and trade doesn’t help the majority of people in Burma, it hurts them. The regime spends half its budget on the military and just 19p per person per year on health.”

The number of British companies still involved in Burma highlights the failure of British government policy. The government has called on companies not to invest or trade with Burma, and in June 2003 Prime Minister Tony Blair renewed that call. But since Labour came to power imports from Burma have more than tripled, rising from £17.3million in 1998 to £62.2m in 2003. Timber is the second largest UK import from Burma.

“We will be increasing pressure on those companies that remain,” said John Jackson. No British or European company should be funding a regime whose rape women and children, which imprisons and tortures political opponents, and that ruthlessly persecutes ethnic minorities.”

For more information and a copy of the Dirty List, contact Mark Farmaner, Media Officer, on 020 7324 4713

NOTES TO EDITORS:

THE CURRENT SITUATION IN BURMA
Amnesty International and the United Nations have reported a deteriorating human rights situation in Burma in the past year. Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest following a brutal crackdown and massacre of up to 100 of her supporters in May 2003. In an attempt to deflect international criticism the regime has convened a National Convention to draw up a new constitution. However, the draft constitution enshrines military rule and Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy are not able to take part in the convention.

 


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