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Unocal Out of Burma, Protest at He

/* Written  2:08 pm  Apr 26, 1994 by DEBRA@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx in igc:hrnet.asia-pac */
/* ---------- "Unocal Out of Burma, Protest at He" ---------- */
## author     : ranla@xxxxxxxxxxx
## date       : 25.04.94

For Immediate Release                          April 25, 1994

Contact:        Cynthia Rust (206) 632-4326, Greenpeace
          Pager # at the Protest (415) 280-2141


Los Angeles,  April 22, 1994 (GP)  Calling on Unocal
Corporation to end its joint venture with the Burmese junta,
Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and the Burma
Forum will demonstrate at Unocal's corporate headquarters
during the annual shareholder's meeting.  The protest is
focused on Unocal's investement in a natural gas pipeline
through rainforest in Burma.

At 9:00 a.m. on Monday April 25, at 1201 5th St. in downtown
Los Angeles, activists will conduct a high profile airborne
demonstration.  Large photos depicting the chain-gang forced
labor used in Burma to build roads and clear forest will be
creatively displayed.

Forced labor is currently being used to provide infra-
structure for a pipeline from the Andaman Sea through
Burma's Tenasserim division to Thailand. Inside the meeting,
shareholders will be discussing a resolution requesting
Unocal to publicly disclose all of its activities in Burma.

     The activists are protesting Unocal's 47.5 percent
     share in a natural gas concession in Burma because of
     human rights abuses and forest destruction wrought by
     the country's ruling military regime, the State, Law
     and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). SLORC.

     In March 1994, the United Nations Commission on Human
     Rights condemned the SLORC for torturing Burmese
     people, undertaking summary executions, using forced
     labor, arresting and imprisoning people for political
     reasons, and for the abuse of women.

     In addition to today's demonstration, Greenpeace will
     release a report on the connection between the gas
     pipeline, human rights abuses and destruction to the
     tropical forest.  The report, based on a recent visit
     to Burma, is centered around interviews with indigenous
     people, such as the Karen and Mon who live in the
     pipeline area.

     "This proposed pipeline encapsulates all that is wrong
     with Burma under the death grip of the SLORC," said
     Pamela Wellner, Greenpeace forest campaigner.  This
     includes slave labor, forced relocation and looting of
     villages by the military and environmental degradation
     of the forest.

                         Unocal Out of Burma/2

     "Unocal can't keep justifying its involvement with this
     junta by saying they are providing employment," Wellner
     said.  "The truth is, they are supporting slavery and
     forest ruin.  This will not be kept a secret for 15
     years like their Californian oil spill; too many people
     know of these atrocities."

     The Center for Constitutional Rights, a public interest
     law firm, in a recent letter to the CEO of Unocal
     stated "...Unocal could be held legally liable for
     deaths, injuries, property damage or other harm arising
     out your company's operations in Burma. Unocal denies
     that their investment is related to the human rights

     Greenpeace, RAN and the Burma Forum are asking Unocal
     and other foreign companies such as Total of France,
     the other partner in the offshore gas concession, to
     pull their operations out of Burma.  This is in
     solidarity with the National Coalition Government for
     the Union of Burma, the democratic coalition which has
     not been allowed to take power.  The NCGUB and the
     ethnic nationalities are asking companies not to invest
     with SLORC and to hold their business interest in Burma
     until a democratic government is in power.

     "If the Unocal shareholders were aware of the human
     rights atrocities perpetrated on their behalf, I am
     sure they would not condone Unocal doing business with
     the SLORC," said Naw Louisa Benson, co-founder of the
     Burma Forum and a member of the Karen ethnic group
     whose land borders the pipeline area.

    Much of the slave labor in the pipeline area is
    connected to the extension of the "Death Railway"
    originally built with the forced labor of the Allied
    Forces during the World War II.  In February, Mon
    officials reported that over 35,000 people had been
    conscripted to work on the railway in deplorable

     "Only one small tin of rice is provided to the workers
     and many people are dying of some form of dysentery
     because of unsanitary living conditions." said an
     official of the New Mon State Party.  The forest is
     also being logged to provide sleepers for the railroad.

     In 1988, SLORC gunned down over 2000 pro-democracy
     protesters, causing most western nations such as the
     US. to stop foreign aid.  Since that time SLORC has
     been selling off its natural resources, such as timber,
     oil and gas, to gain cash to buy armaments to further
     suppress its people.  Investment by oil companies is
     considered the largest single source of foreign
     currency to the SLORC.