February 21, 2005

On Monday 21st February the Burma Campaign UK publishes a hard-hitting new report exposing how oil giant TOTAL plays a crucial role in funding and protecting Burma’s brutal military dictatorship.

The report Totalitarian Oil – TOTAL Oil: Fuelling the oppression in Burma, coincides with the launch of a global campaign against the company, supported by 40 organisations in 18 countries.

French oil giant TOTAL is the fourth largest oil company in the UK, and the fourth largest oil company in the world.

Read the report here.

Key findings of the report include:

  • TOTAL as the largest European corporate funder of the regime. The Yadana gas project, in which it is a partner, is believed to earn the regime between $200m to $450m a year.
  • TOTAL’s presence in Burma influencing French, European Union and British foreign policy on Burma, as France vetoes effective EU sanctions in order to protect TOTAL.
  • Horrific human rights abuses committed in the region of TOTAL’s gas pipeline by pipeline security forces.
  • Arms sales closely linked to TOTAL’s gas project. The regime used its first downpayment for gas exports to buy 10 MIG jets from Russia.

“TOTAL has done more than any other company to help prop up the regime in Burma,” says John Jackson, Director of the Burma Campaign UK. “The French government is protecting TOTAL’s interests in Burma by blocking tough EU sanctions against the dictatorship. The consequence of TOTAL’s Burma operation is that the regime knows it is safe from any tough EU action.”

In 2004 France vetoed a proposed EU ban on new investment in Burma’s oil and gas sectors in order to protect TOTAL’s investment in the country. The USA banned new investment in 1997.

Paul Monaghan, Head of Sustainable Development at Co-operative Financial Services, welcomed the new report. He said: “There are many oppressive regimes across the world; however, Burma presents a combination of circumstances that make a particularly compelling case for action. The Co-operative Bank and Co-operative Insurance Society (CIS) look forward to a progressive response from TOTAL and others involved in Burma.

”Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner and leader of Burma’s democracy movement, has repeatedly called on companies like TOTAL to leave Burma. She has said that: “TOTAL has become the main supporter of the Burmese military regime.” Aung San Suu Kyi recently began her tenth year under house arrest. She is allowed no visitors, her phone line has been cut and post is intercepted. There is currently no prospect of her being released and fear is growing for her safety.

The new campaign against TOTAL dwarfs the scale of previous campaigns against companies in Burma. PepsiCo, Heineken, British American Tobacco, Triumph International & Premier Oil have all been forced to pull out of Burma following campaigns against them.

For more information & copies of the report, contact Mark Farmaner, Media Manager, on 020 7324 4713 or John Jackson, Director of the Burma Campaign UK, on 020 7324 4712. To contact Co-operative Financial Services call Dave Smith, 0161 8295397, mobile 07702 152771.

Tiffs of new a campaign poster also available.


The current situation in Burma
Burma is ruled by one of the most oppressive regimes in the world. Political prisoners are routinely tortured and the rape of women and children is used as a weapon of war against ethnic minorities. Foreign investment has enriched the regime, which spends around half of its budget on the military. At the same time spending on health has fallen to the lowest of any country in the world, and 60 percent of children do not complete primary education.

Organisations supporting the campaign:
Actions Birmanie (Belgium), Afrika Azsia Forum (Hungary), Asienhaus Burma Initiative (Germany), ASN Bank (Netherlands), Assistenza Birmania (Italy), Australia Burma Council, Burma Action Ireland, Burma Bureau (Germany), Burma Campaign South Africa, Burma Campaign UK, Burma Center Netherlands, Campaign for Democracy in Burma (Finland), Christian Solidarity Worldwide (UK), Danish Burma Committee, Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme (France), Federation of Trade Unions – Burma (FTUB), Finnish Burma Committee, Friends of the Earth (England, Wales, Northern Ireland), Friends of the Earth Scotland, Future in our hands (Norway), ICCO (Netherlands), Info-Birmanie (France), International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) (France), Federation of Workers’ Union of the Burmese Citizens (Japan), Karen Service Team (Germany), Ligue des Droits de l’Homme (France), Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth – Netherlands), Multatuli Travel (Netherlands), Norwegian Burma Committee, Norwegian Church Aid, Novib (Netherlands), People’s Forum on Burma (Japan), Polish Burma Solidarity, The Peace People – Ireland, Socialist Party (SP) – Netherlands, SOMO (Netherlands), Swedish Burma Committee, Swiss Burma Association, US Campaign for Burma, World Development Movement (UK), XminY (Netherlands)

Co-operative Financial Services (CFS)
Co-operative Financial Services (CFS) was formed in 2002 to bring The Co-operative Bank and Co-operative Insurance Society (CIS) under common leadership. CFS is one of the larger financial services organisations in the UK, with more than seven million customers and over £30 billion of assets.

Read the report here


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