Janci | 02.10.2007 12:47 | London
As the streets of Burmese cities are patrolled by soldiers and thousands of monks and protesters are still missing after having been killed, beaten up or arrested during last week’s demonstrations, support for the Burmese people’s struggle is vital. With thousands taking to the streets on Sunday, it is also important to expose those who make the military dictatorship possible – corporations such as Total Oil. Aung San Suu Kyi, the most respected figure of Burma’s democracy movement, has identified Total as “the biggest supporter of the military regime in Burma”, earning the junta hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Total’s joint venture with Burma’s rulers in the Yadan gas project in the south of the country provides crucial revenues to the regime and has had its own horrific record of human rights abuses such as the use of forced labour and widespread torture and rape against those who oppose the project.
On top of all this, Total Oil has been successfully lobbying the French government to veto European Union sanctions against Burma in order to protect its investments, yet another example of corporations showing where the real power really lies in world affairs.
Activists decided to take this matter to Total’s London offices, showing up early this morning to talk to office workers as they made their way into work, and to inform others working in the building what their neighbours are really up to. A banner reading ‘TOTALitarianOil Out of Burma Now’ was unfurled, leaflets from the Burma Campaign handed out, while three activists staged a die-in in the lobby of the building. Police forces showed up within 20 minutes, demanding to speak to the ‘leaders of the demonstration’, and eventually forcefully removing those inside the building. The protesters were not deterred, continuing the die-in outside the doors. It was decided by all to end the demonstration at 11am, after all leaflets were handed out and traffic into the building slowed down.
As the Burmese military continues its repression of dissent, we must keep up the struggle and continue to target those who financially back the regime, exposing them for what they really are: capitalists who care about nothing but profit.