Blockading the front entrance
Protesters wore red in solidarity with the monks of Burma
Nearly all the potential customers who saw the banners decided to drive on by
A busy Saturday afternoon at Total…
Quite a family affair
People began to gather outside the petrol station in East Oxford at 2.30 pm, and at 2.45 moved into the entranceway, holding a banner which read " Fuelling Oppression In Burma". We blocked the entrance for a while until the police arrived and threatened to arrest people. However, even after we shuffled to either side of the main driveway, just the presence of the protesters, the banner and the police was enough to put most customers off - we saw numerous people eyeing up the entrance and then choosing to drive by.
Those few who did plunge past the crowd of protesters onto the forecourt were quickly pounced upon by friendly leaflet-wielding activists who managed to persuade the majority to take their business elsewhere.
The Total staff were less than overjoyed, but we gave them all leaflets too and explained why we were there. The police, too, were less than delighted by our presence but seemed willing to tolerate us, even though we'd pretty much closed the petrol station down for the afternoon. We got lots of waves and horn-toots of support from passers-by.
Total has been a longstanding supporter of Burma's brutal regime. Widespread human rights abuses have been associated with the Total pipeline in Burma, including forced labour, torture and rape. In addition, tougher European sanctions against Burma have been blocked by the French government in its effort to protect Total's interests in the country.
Today's action was part of a growing international movement against Total. Forcing the company to pull out of Burma would be a major blow to the legitimacy of the regime, jeopardise a vital source of income for the junta and would make it even more difficult for other companies to do business in the region.
For more information see www.burmacampaign.org.uk/total_briefing.html. To get involved in action in Oxford email firstname.lastname@example.org.