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Protest at Totalitarian Oil sponsoring French Film Festival

Awyame | 16.03.2008 23:36 | Anti-militarism | Culture | Repression | Social Struggles | London

Nine protesters demonstrated on Friday March 15th at the French Film Festival at London Cine Lumiere 17 Queensberry Place London. They were protesting against Total funding the brutal Burmese military junta with 500 million dollars a year. Total Oil is the largest western sponsor of the evil regime and their pipeline in Burma was built with slave labour. Total exploits the French Film Festival and French Arts to try to whitewash their dirty reputation.

French director Jean Becker and French actor Jean-Pierre Darroussin
French director Jean Becker and French actor Jean-Pierre Darroussin

The protest was not against the film festival itself or the French films being shown. Indeed the protesters were joined in their protest by the French director Jean Becker and French actor Jean-Pierre Darroussin of the film "Conversation with my Gardener" being shown. They very kindly posed for a photograph with our "Totalitarian Oil fuelling oppression in Burma" and "Total is the biggest supporter of the military regime in Burma" banners.

It was our second protest at the Film Festival. The previous week, at the flagship opening event, the amiable director Pierre Salvadori of the film "Priceless" being shown, was shocked at learning of Total sponsorship. He sportingly posed for photos with our "Don't Forget Burma" cartoon bubbles - see: and also

Total and Burma

A detailed report on Total Oil's involvement in Burma, written by Burma Campaign UK, can be downloaded at

Total is in a joint venture with the dictatorship in the Yadana gas project in southern Burma. [1]

The gas project funds the junta with hundreds of millions of dollars a year and represents a major source of foreign currency for the regime to buy weapons and finance the army.

Burma has the world's worst health care [2], the most corruption [3] and the most child soldiers [4].

Burma Quote of the week
"If you believe in gnomes, in trolls and in elves, you can believe in this process of democracy in Myanmar,” UN special rapporteur on Myanmar Paulo Sergio Pinheiro

News from Burma Campaign
Full article:
35th UN Envoy Visit Fails - Now Ban Ki-moon Must Go To Burma

The Burma Campaign UK has called on United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to take over UN efforts to restore democracy to Burma, following the failure of Ibrahim Gambari to achieve any breakthrough on his latest visit. It is the 35th visit to Burma by a UN envoy, and not one has achieved a single reform in the country.

"It is clear that the Burmese junta does not respect UN envoys," said Mark Farmaner, Director of the Burma Campaign UK. "After 18 years of failure it is time the UN tried a new approach. The Secretary General himself should lead the UN effort, and he should have the backing of a binding Security Council resolution."

Please send an email for Ban Ki-moon to go to Burma:

Protests in London Next Week

Wednesday 19th March

The Wallace Collection (, an art gallery with French 18th century art, is currently considering a sponsorship deal with Total so we will be asking them not to accept sponsorship from the largest western sponsor of the brutal Burma junta.

The Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square London W1U 3BN
Event Time: 8:30am - 10:30am (gallery opens to public 10:00am - 5pm)
Tube: The nearest tubes are Bond Street (Central & Jubilee Lines) and Baker Street (Circle, District, Hammersmith & City, Jubilee and Metropolitan Lines). Oxford Circus (Bakerloo, Central, Victoria Lines) is a 10-15 minute walk.
Google Map:

Burma Embassy for normal daily Burmese protest
Myanmar/Burma Embassy 19A, Charles St, London W1J 5DX.
Tube: Green Park | Map:

Protest at Total sponsoring French Film Festival
(the protest is against Total, not the film festival or films being shown)
5:30pm - 6:45pm
Institut Francais
17 Queensberry Place London SW7 2DT
Tube: South Kensington Map:
LA FRANCE (15) 6.15pm + Q & A Serge Bozon (followed by Barbara Carliotti Concert)

Protests are held weekly but locations may change. For information and reports on protests in London and around the country please see

Make sure you've signed:

- The Burma Campaign UK e-action to TOTAL:
- The "No fuel for Burmese Junta" pledge:
- Don't Forget Burma - send a photo message to the regime:

Burma Videos

Burma Campaign UK's video channel on YouTube:

- New to Burma? Watch these videos for a brief introduction
- This is Burma Music - U2, REM, Damien Rice, KT Tunstall...
- This is Burma: News and Documentaries - including Burma's Secret War
and Inside The Crackdown

Get TOTAL OIL out of Burma group on Facebook:

Recent Burma news: (see - read links for the full versions of stories)

More than 2,000 Karen Flee Attacks

More than 2,000 Karen villagers from eight villages in Karen State’s Papun District have been forced to flee into the jungle following fresh attacks by the Burmese Army, according to Karen relief groups.

Some 2,100 villagers have been hiding since March 4, when a joint campaign against ethnic Karen rebels was launched by Military Operations Commands 4 and 16 in northern Karen State, according to the Free Burma Rangers (FBR), a relief group that assists Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the area.

According to an FBR report, government troops have been destroying any food or property they can find, and are hunting down villagers seeking shelter in the jungle.

The report added that the attacks are the biggest against civilians in northern Karen State since the Burmese Army rebuilt its camps and constructed a new road in the area in late 2007.

Burmese troops entered eight villages, including Ga Yu Der, Lay Kee and Htee Mu Kee, burning down nine houses and three farmhouses in Ga Yu Der alone, said the FBR report.

Medical treatment for the IDPs is provided by a mobile clinic operated by FBR, which estimates that there are 30,000 civilians sheltering in the jungles of northern Karen State, on constant alert against the threat of renewed attacks.

Narinjara News: Monastery set ablaze after bulldozing

A monastery in Kyauktaw Township was set on fire after being bulldozed by army authorities because the abbot of the monastery was involved in the recent Saffron Revolution.

The 79-year-old abbot, Tilawka, told Narinjara News about the incident soon after he arrived in Bangladesh from Burma.

“The army authority set fire to my monastery after bulldozing it for two reasons. The first reason is that I was involved in the Saffron Revolution and the second reason is that I accepted four monks, who were also involved in the revolution, to take shelter in my monastery,” the abbot said.

The monastery that was razed was the Theik Thapon monastery in Theik Thapon Khami Village near the ancient Mahamuni temple in Kyauktaw Township, 80 miles north of Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State.

Irrawaddy: NLD calls for constitution to be made public - Wai Moe

Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), released a statement on Friday criticizing the junta’s tactic of announcing a referendum on a draft Constitution while withholding details from the public, according to an NLD official.

Nyan Win, a spokesperson for the NLD, told The Irrawaddy on Friday that the statement, known as “3/03/08,” was released to criticize the junta for scheduling a referendum for May while the draft Constitution is unavailable to the public.

“The statement also says that the junta has issued two referendum laws as mandates for holding the referendum. But we have not seen any technical law that specifically outlines the referendum,” said Nyan Win. “Therefore, the NLD calls on the junta to follow the steps in statement 3/03/08.”

He added that citizens must be able to read the draft of the Constitution in advance of the referendum—then people would know more about the Constitution and could decide which way to vote.

The NLD released its “special statement” during a visit to Burma by the new Thai Prime Minister, Samak Sundaravej and Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama, who met junta leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe and Prime Minister Gen Thein Sein.

Before leaving for Burma, the Thai foreign minister told reporters that Thailand opposes Western sanctions on neighboring Burma and is ready to help the military-run country hold a referendum on a new Constitution in May.

“Thailand disagrees with sanctions,” he said. “If Myanmar [Burma] wants assistance from Thailand, we are ready to offer help as a friendly country.”

Commenting on Samak’s one-day visit to Burma, Nyan Win said that Thailand should not only focus on trade, because foreign relations not only depend on trade.

NCUB urges people to vote No in referendum

Mar 14, 2008 (DVB)–The National Council of the Union of Burma, an umbrella organisation of exiled opposition groups, has called on the people of Burma to vote No in the constitutional referendum.

The Burmese military regime plans to hold a referendum on its proposed constitution in May this year.

"The SPDC is going to force the outcome they want from the referendum and they are going to accomplish that using various methods of deception,” he said.

Villagers tricked into supporting constitution principles

Mar 14, 2008 (DVB)–Villagers in Taung Twin Gyi township in Magwe division have said they were tricked into signing a statement in support of constitutional principles by local officials.

Since Monday this week, local authorities and Union Solidarity and Development Association members have been going from house to house in Kyi Sin and Nat Sin Kone villages collecting household lists.

After collecting names, identity card numbers, and parents’ names and addresses, the officials made the villagers sign a document, a local resident said.

“They covered the heading on the document with their hands and wouldn't let us read it,” the resident said.

“But I accidentally saw what it said, which was something like ‘List of voters supporting the national referendum’.”

Other villagers who saw the document more clearly said that it was an agreement in support of the 104 basic constitutional principles.

When people asked for an explanation of the 104 principles, the officials said they had already been well-publicised.

“Some people saw the agreement on these 104 basic principles and asked what they were, but the authorities wouldn't explain,” the resident said.

“They just said they had been publicised on the radio and television so people should find out for themselves, and that they did not have the authority to explain them.”

Villagers said that even the USDA members who were collecting signatures were overheard asking each other what the 104 principles were.

Local authorities, USDA members and education officials have also been reported collecting signatures in the same way in other villages in the township.

Burmese monk's mission to tell world how it is

THE Burmese junta mobilised a powerful new adversary when it brutally suppressed the monks' uprising in September, igniting monks worldwide to campaign to force a change of government.

The monk Pannya Vamsa, co-founder of the International Burmese Monks Organisation, has called on Australia to support sanctions, co-ordinate with other governments for a unified response and use its influence on China, Burma's most important backer and arms supplier, to improve civil rights and allow democratic progress.

"When governments ask what to do, I say you have to choose between good and evil.

"The Burmese Government is wrong in every field - religiously, socially and commercially. They cannot handle the [country], there is not enough to eat, and they make divisions."

The International Burmese Monks Association was formed on October 27 last year after the arrest and detention of thousands of monks by the army in the wake of the peaceful uprising.

"In Burma, the present situation, the monks say, 'We cannot do anything. The military government is torturing and killing, and we cannot live peacefully. Help us tell the world leaders, political and religious, what is happening,"' he said.

After the uprising the regime closed the monasteries in and around Rangoon, detained senior monks and sent the novices back to their villages. "In Rangoon now about 10 per cent of the monks are left," Pannya Vamsa said.

UN rights expert says no Myanmar visa after all

GENEVA (AFP) - The UN human rights expert on Myanmar said Friday that he had not been issued a promised visa to visit the country on a fact-finding mission.

“If you believe in gnomes, in trolls and in elves, you can believe in this process of democracy in Myanmar,” he had said.

In a report to the Human Rights Council this week, the special rapporteur said around 1,850 political prisoners were behind bars as of January in Myanmar, and that the government had “accelerated” unlawful arrests.

He added that he had continued to get reports of arrests made in relation to sweeping anti-government demonstrations last year, as well as allegations of abuse relating to the arrests.

“There’s a contradiction between what the government says that it is doing and what is really happening,” he said.

“Despite all the attention to the terrible crackdown, the government did not pay any attention to the Security Council nor the Human Rights Council” which had both condemned last year’s violent crackdown on dissent.

While he said he did not expect rapid change, “the problem with this country is that they don’t even give small concessions. I’m always asking for small concessions, but they are not able to do that.”

Although the government said it wants multi-party elections “they excluded so many people from the election that I don’t know who will be able to participate,” Pinheiro said.

Forced labor for Burmese army's lucrative business

Pletwa, Chin State: The Burma Army battalion No. 289 under the Western Command based in Inn Township has been forcing villagers into forced labor for the army's lucrative business, according to official sources.

Everyday 80 villagers of Sami, Noonbu, Sik Chainwa and Stanwa villages of Marit village tract of Pletwa Township in Chin State , are being engaged in forced labor since March 3 in various lucrative business of the army. The villages live on the upper side of Kaladan River , which connects Chin and Arakan States . This river is also famous because the pipeline which is to be connected to Mizoram ( India ) in the future from Arakan State along the Kaladan River bank.
The labor group was led by Captain Nay Hlin Aung of Battalion No. 289 of Pletwa Township and provides work to villagers and monitors them everyday. The villagers have to work in agricultural projects and animal husbandry farms from 8 am till sunset having to take food from their homes.

Besides, the villagers have to bring bamboo, log and timber, which are needed for fencing the army's projects. They also have to do forced labor to clear land for cultivation or hill side cultivation.

Junta-back militia group employs locals without wages

Local people are being used in road construction work without wages by a Kachin militia group, the Rebellion Resistance Force (RRF) backed by Burma's ruling junta in Kachin State in Northern Burma, local sources said.

Although, hundreds of local people were employed with the promise of reasonable wages in a new horse-road construction project between the military bases of the militia group in Hkawnglang Hpu and near Gi Gi Pass on the Sino-Burma border, most workers were not paid, a resident told KNG today.

The Hkawnglang Hpu is one of the junta's under implementation development projects in Kachin State and the junta's high ranking officials often visit the area every year.

According to a resident near the Hkawnglang Hpu, the road construction is a joint project of the RRF and it was started late last year. They had asked local workers to work on the promise of payment of Kyat 800,000 (est. US $ 727) per mile or Kyat 100,000 (est. US $ 91) per one-eighth of a mile as construction wages.

The construction of the road is mainly aimed at transporting a kind of timber known as the Hong-htu-shar in Chinese name which can be produced the precious oil for medicinal purposes from Hkawnglang areas to China, locals said.

"The construction of the road is very difficult and dangerous because the area is very mountainous. Now, the local workers have gone back home because they did not get any wages as promised," the resident added.

The RRF is used to demanding and looting rice from villagers in Laja Ga, Nau Ra Yang and Hkanghti Dum villages near the RRF military headquarters whenever they face shortage of rations, said the sources close to the those villages.

The RRF was formed by a businessman and owner of Myitkyina-based Mali Hka Recording Ah Dang and the group was established with the direct support of the ruling junta with rations, finance and arms in early 2006.

Junta forces villagers to plant teak

Villagers are being forced by military authorities of Burmese junta to plant teak in Mong Pieng Township, eastern Shan State according to local sources.

On 23 February 2008, Maj. Khin Tun, together with 36 soldiers from Infantry Battalion (IB) 43, based at Yang Kham village, went to the villages in the township and instructed villagers to plant teak. Every household was required to plant 150 teak saplings. Each family had to pay Kyat 100,000 ($80) to the battalion if they did not want to plant teak, said a villager of Yang Kham.

The tea growers reportedly went to Maj. Khin Tun and said they could not plant teak on their farms. Each villager was than fined Kyat 50,000 ($40) for refusal and told that it was their [battalion’s] land and they could do teak plantation wherever they wanted to.

Timber export is one of Burma's main sources for foreign currency. Illegal loggings, especially along the border areas, have much depleted the country's forests. In many cases, the regime's ban on logging of hardwood is flouted by its own officials, according to environmental activists.

European Union: Office of the European Union Special Envoy for Burma/Myanmar
Fri 14 Mar 2008
Filed under: News, Statement

Burma: EU concerned by junta’s uncooperative stance. We seek democratic guarantees on the referendum process, and the release of political prisoners, says Piero Fassino

“The European Union is concerned by the Myanmar authorities’ rejection of the UN envoy’s proposals and will continue to support the UN Secretary-General and his envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, in any fresh efforts to promote genuine dialogue and democratic transition in Burma, involving all sectors of Burmese society,” said Piero Fassino, EU Special Envoy for Burma/Myanmar at the close of two days’ consultations in Brussels during which he met Javier Solana, the EU High Representative for the common foreign and security policy.

“The Myanmar authorities’ decision to hold a referendum on the new constitution in May,” Fassino went on, “requires a counterpart in essential democratic guarantees of free and fair process. Against that background and today’s call by Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, the European Union again urges the Myanmar authorities to release all political prisoners and Aung San Suu Kyi so that they can take part in the referendum campaign.”

In Brussels Piero Fassino attended meetings of the Political and Security Committee (PSC) and the Asia-Oceania Working Party (COASI), briefing representatives of the 27 Member States on recent developments in the crisis in Burma and on measures taken by the EU. He also had a working lunch with the Asian countries’ ambassadors and met a delegation of NGOs active in Burma.

Burmese Gems Losing Their Luster?

Burma’s latest gems show is attracting lacklustre reviews from Thai merchants who have attended the event, which is being held March 9-20 in the former capital, Rangoon.

A Thai businessman from the Chanthaburi Gems and Jewelry Traders Association said that gems merchants who have returned from the exhibition were unimpressed by the precious stones on offer. He also said he wouldn’t recommend the event to other Thai traders.

“The auction is mainly of jade for Chinese people, not rubies,” said the Thai businessman, indicating the Thai preference for rubies.

Thailand and China are among the biggest buyers at the shows, which typically attract several thousand visitors from around 20 countries. Attendance is expected to be high again this year, despite growing calls from Western governments and human rights groups for a boycott of Burmese gems, which are a major hard-currency earner for the country’s ruling junta.

Burma has been hit with economic sanctions by the US and other Western governments since the regime ordered a brutal crackdown on peaceful protests last September.

Burma, which is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia, has more than 90 percent of the world’s rubies and is a major supplier of diamonds, cat’s eyes, emeralds, topaz, pearls, sapphires, coral and a variety of garnet tinged with yellow.

Chinese presence in Myanmar uneasy

Few people can claim justifiably to understand the relationship between Myanmar's secretive military rulers and China, their key trading partner, arms supplier and diplomatic ally.

But if the man on the street in Mandalay is anything to go by, it will be one ranging from mistrust to resentment to outright loathing, suggesting Beijing's much-vaunted "influence" over its pariah neighbour may be smaller than imagined.

Even though the former Burma's second city is one of the few places where the economy appears to be going somewhere, thanks mainly to Chinese capital and enterprise, most locals feel they are on the wrong side of a deeply exploitative equation.

"The Chinese give us plastic, and they take our teak and gems," one senior Buddhist monk in Sagaing, a town 20 km west of Mandalay, told Reuters. "They give us one thing, but then take two."

The only clues are hearsay and anecdote, such as that of the junta's number two man Maung Aye, who has spent much of his military career fighting Beijing-backed communists, ordering shop signs to be taken down if Chinese lettering appeared above the Burmese.

China's curious admission last May that it had been kept in the dark about the junta's 2005 move to a new capital - and its distinctly unflattering account of the place - fuelled speculation that Beijing may not enjoy privileged access.


[1] Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s democracy leader, has said that “Total is the biggest supporter of the military regime in Burma.” For more information about Total Oil's investment in Burma see the Burma Campaign UK website:

[2] The World Health Organization's ranking
of the world's health systems:

[3] Burma joins Somalia in 179th place as the most corrupt countries in the world according to Transparency International 2007 index rankings:

[4] Human Rights Watch report on Child Soldiers in Burma:



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  1. Burma Human Rights Day March 13th Report — Awyame
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