Friday, September 28, 2007

CRACKDOWN! Tell Chevron to Help Stop the Violence in Burma

DO YOUR PART - Sign Earthrights International's petition urging Chevron to use its influence to help stop the crackdown!

Also, I have added a TAKE ACTION section on the left side navigation panel. Click on that to directly go to entries that list simple actions you can take.

9/27/07 A Hong Kong Newspaper - 10 people killed!Japanese journalist, Kenji Nagai, 50, is pictured in the lower right, lying on the floor, dying. He was killed September 27 after soldiers fired automatic weapons into a crowd of demonstrators. While the state media reported that 10 were killed, the number of deaths from the crackdown is likely much higher.

As peaceful protestors are being shot down Earthrights International (ERI) is urgently requesting that the oil and gas industry (especially companies such as Chevron and Daewoo) – the industry that sparked the protests -- to use its influence with the Burmese military to respect human rights.

The protests began weeks ago in part due to spiking domestic gas prices, and protestors, led by Buddhist monks, are demanding democratic reforms. Nonetheless, the multinational corporations involved in Burma’s natural gas industry, such as Chevron and Daewoo, have shown no sign of using their influence to protect human rights and prevent further violence.

The current protests, in which up to 100,000 people have thronged the streets of Rangoon and 26 other cities, are the largest challenge to the military since 1988, when thousands were killed after mass protests were brutally suppressed. According to Ka Hsaw Wa, ERI’s Executive Director, who was a student leader in those protests:

“As someone who experienced this regime’s brutality in 1988, I am glad that this time around, the world is watching. But that is not enough. The international community, including multinational corporations, must act now to prevent further bloodshed in Burma. The people have suffered profoundly for too long—they have already sacrificed so much, and they will not stop.”

The protests began on August 19th, when the military’s decision to sharply increase the price of natural gas and other fuels sent shockwaves through the economy. The military has recently responded with violence, killing at least several protestors (including monks) and arresting hundreds more. But the oil and gas corporations themselves, who are partnered with the military government in gas export projects, have shown no sign of trying to prevent further bloodshed. Instead, Daewoo International and the Thai gas company PTTEP initially announced plans to export more of Burma’s natural gas, and on September 25 PTTEP issued a statement assuring the public that their investment was not jeopardized by the unrest. A third company, India’s ONGC Videsh, along with India’s Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, traveled to Burma amidst the protests to sign three new deals to extract and export natural gas. And Chevron Corporation, the largest remaining U.S. company in Burma, has simply remained silent.

“The corporations who can influence the military junta know who they are. They must pressure the regime to maintain peace, and respect the rights to speech and association of the people of Burma. Instead, however, they are pursuing their business interests while people’s lives are at stake,” added Chana Maung, Director of ERI Southeast Asia. “The regime has resorted to violence against the peaceful protestors, and the companies now also have blood on their hands, but it is not too late for them to act.

According to ERI Burma Program Coordinator Naing Htoo,
“Whether they like it or not, the companies are not socially or politically neutral in the current unrest in Burma. They say that their presence in Burma helps, not hurts, our people. It’s time for them to put their money where their mouth is.”

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Aung San Suu Kyi Transferred to Prison, Monasteries Raided

PARIS : The head of Myanmar's self-proclaimed government-in-exile, Sein Win,
said on Wednesday that democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has been transferred
from house arrest to a prison cell.

Asked about rumours the Nobel Peace prize winner had been imprisoned amid
mass protests led by Buddhist monks against Myanmar's ruling military, he
told AFP: "We have this information from two sources.

"Up until now it was not certain because we only had one source, but now we
have it from another independent source."

Sein Win is the prime minister of the National Coalition Government of the
Union of Burma (NCGUB) and a first cousin of Suu Kyi.

"She has been at the Insein prison (north of Yangon) since Sunday, when the
monks marched in front of her house," he said.

A Western diplomat contacted by AFP in Yangon said he had no confirmation
that Suu Kyi, under house arrest since 2003, had been moved to jail.

"We have more of a denial," he said, adding that "everything suggests" she
was still at her residence.

A Myanmar police source on Tuesday also denied Suu Kyi had been transferred
to jail.

Sein Win and other opposition leaders were to meet later with French
President Nicolas Sarkozy to discuss the situation in his home country.

Up to 100,000 people defied heavy security to take to the streets of
Myanmar's main city Yangon on Wednesday, where security forces used batons,
tear gas and live rounds to crack down on protests, killing at least four

Sein Win was among those who secured parliamentary seats in 1990 elections
won by Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), which the ruling
military refused to recognise. The NCGUB government in exile has also been
outlawed by the ruling military. - AFP/de

The following BBC article chronicles the current raiding of monasteries by the junta



Burmese security forces fired directly on protesting monks and other demonstrators in Rangoon on Wednesday, reportedly killing five monks and one woman in separate Rangoon clashes, according to unconfirmed reports.

On-the-scene reports to The Irrawaddy said the monks died when troops and security forces opened fire on at least two separate demonstrations. Troops reportedly fired over the heads of protesters on some occasions and fired directly at protestors on other occasions.

The reports of deaths and injuries were impossible to confirm on Wednesday.

The deaths reportedly occurred as different columns of monks walked through the city on Wednesday.

Nyan Win, a National League for Democracy spokesperson, said he heard reports that three monks and one woman had been killed by gunfire.

AFP, the French news agency, reported Wednesday night that at least two Burmese officials said three monks were dead. The AFP report said one monk died as he tried to take a weapon away from a soldier, and two others were beaten to death.

In the military-ruled government of Burma, information is severely restricted and accurate reports of the number of dead and injured are difficult to verify.

Witnesses said the military government fired at protesters, hurled tear gas and wielded batons to break up protests in Rangoon. In Mandalay, shots were fired over the heads of protestors.

In both cities, security forces rounded up and arrested many protest leaders and others, according to sources on the scene.

During Wednesday morning, military forces and police in Rangoon blocked the road to Shwedagon Pagoda and confronted thousands of monks and civilians who gathered outside the pagoda, one of the holiest sites in Burma.

On Wednesday afternoon, protesters and security forces also clashed again near Shwedagon Pagoda and later on a road leading to Sule Pagoda.

Dozens of protesters and activists including members of the NLD, protesting Buddhist monks and other protest leaders were arrested throughout the day at different areas in Rangoon, in Mandalay and in Kachin state.

In Rangoon, two well-known activists, the veteran politician Amyotheryei Win Naing and the popular Burmese comedian Zarganar, were arrested overnight on Tuesday.

The well-known Burmese actor Kyaw Thu and the poet Aung Win are being sought by authorities for their role in aiding monks in recent days, according to sources.

In Mandalay, security forces fired warning shots and used teargas to break up an estimated 10,000 protesting monks who marched through the city, according to local residents. one source said that after troops fired warning shots over the heads of the monks, they continued on with their march.

Also in Mandalay, three members of the NLD, Tin Aung, Khin Maung Thaung and Myo Naing, and well-known comedian Par Par Lay, were arrested on Wednesday after they offered alms to monks.

In other areas, more than 200 monks in Myitkyina and Bamaw in Kachin state in northern Burma were arrested in a midnight raid on Tuesday. More monks in the area were detained on Wednesday morning, while others escaped and are in hiding. Many phone lines were cut off in the area, residents said.

The junta declared a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. in Rangoon and Mandalay on Tuesday and banned any gathering of more than five people. Thousands of monks and citizens ignored the ban on Wednesday.

Security forces and police took up positions around Rangoon City Hall and many monasteries on Wednesday. Security was also increased in Pegu and Mandalay, in Sagaing Division and in Arakan, Mon and Kachin states.

The phone lines of many pro-democracy activists and many members of a volunteer medical team that has followed Rangoon demonstrations also have been cut off by the military government.

Please sign the petitions below!

strong>For those who care about human rights, please sign the NINE (9) PETITIONS below if you have not done so already. Please take the 5 minutes to do this. It's easy and CAN and WILL bring concrete results to the suffering people of Burma. The list of petitions was compiled by Burma Watch.

You can also call or email the Chinese, Burmese, Indian, Thai, Japanese, Russian, South Korean, and French embassies. Below are also organizations to which you can donate. Please consider supporting their advocacy work on Burma.


1. Call on Members of United Nations, Members of the European Union, All Political Leaders, All Head of States, and, All Dignitaries for immediate action on Burma HERE.

2. An appeal to the 15 members of the UN Security Council HERE.

3. Also, please sign the US Campaign for Burma petition calling for China to withdraw support of Burma's military regime HERE.

4. AVAAZ is petitioning the UN and Chinese President Hu Jintao

5. Send a petition calling for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Burma, including Aung San Suu Kyi, to Senior General Than Shwe. Don't worry if one or two of these emails bounces back-the petition will go to 30 Burmese government ministries and Burmese embassies around the world- it probably means their inbox is already full of appeals. The petition, off musician Damien Rice's site is HERE.

6. Sign Earthrights International's petition urging Chevron to use its influence to help stop the crackdown, and to stop investing in Burma HERE.

7. Sign the Shwe Gas Movement's petition to halt South Korea's Daewoo from extracting gas in Western Burma until human rights are upheld HERE.

8. Sign the petition to the Norwegian Nobel Committee to nominate the Sangha (the monkhood) in Burma for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize HERE.

9. For British citizens, please sign the petition to PM Gordon Brown. Get him to act now!

- You can also email UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon asking for immediate UN intervention at

- Join the Support the Monks' protest in Burma and the US Campaign for Burma Facebook groups. Check out Burma Watch's website.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Third Fight for Burma's Independence

from US Campaign for Burma-

Courageous people of Burma, under the leadership of Buddhist monks, began a national strike today. Over 200,000 people, monks, nuns, students, actors, journalists, doctors, housewives, elders, people from all walks of live join in the national strike in Rangoon today and many other cities through out the country.

The past few days the fervor in the country has built up immensely. I'm sure that many of heard about how on Saturday a group of monks were allowed to march past Aung San Suu Kyi's house in Rangoon. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi came out from her house, reached near the gate and paid respect to the monks with tears. The monks stood in front of her house for 15 minute and made blessing of her. The civilians, who were accompanying with the monks, also shouted the slogan, "Long Live Daw Aung San Suu Kyi".

We have also received recently disturbing news from inside sources that the military has ordered a brigade to shave their heads and dress up as monks to start inciting violence, so that the military will have an excuse to crackdown. We are seriously concerned about the risk of a violent crackdown, and now it is time to take our vigilance to a new level and act!

We are certain that China is they key to change inside Burma. They have paralyzed the UN Security Council so far, and they must accept a more responsible and multilateral role. Those staging the protests inside Burma are not just aware of China's negative support in Burma, but very upset by it as well. On Saturday a large group of monks marched to the Chinese and Russian embassies and protested in front.

If you have ever cared about Burma, now is the time, at the crest of the largest public demonstrations in 20 years to join in and show your support.

We are working on bringing in as many world leaders, celebrities, news agencies on board with this story, but you need to play your part as well. It will not just be Americans working for this, but a global movement as well.

Starting this Wednesday (September 26th) we will begin a global week of ACTION. With an explosion of action we will make sure that everyone from world leaders to your next door neighbors have their eyes focused on Burma. Having this global focus will not only help in the protection of those demonstrating, but also make sure that the calls of the monks and civilians gets turned into international action.


- Be a part of our 88,000 signatures campaign. I am asking people to collectively gather 88,000 signatures from around the world, calling on Chinese President Hu Jintao to compel Burma towards valid national reconciliation. Sign the petition here online: Click Here

OH BUT WAIT... you don't get off to so easy. Download the petition from our website and get hundreds and thousands of people to sign it. We're going for 88,000. Download Petition Here

- Hold a Saffron Supporting Event.. It doesn't matter whether you live in a major city or not, you can still organize an event. These can be a powerful tool to raise awareness in your home town, and millions of eyes on Burma is exactly what we need with the military on the verge of a violent crackdown. You can organize a march, candle light vigil, or get creative and do any sort of action that will work for you and your community. Global Events are occurring this next week and I want the US to be well represented. Sign up to hold an action in your town here: Click Here to Sign Up

- Donate to USCB: We are running at full steam and are in strong need of financial assistance. Click Here to Donate

- Create a YouTube video for the Republican presidential debates asking them what they will do to help Burma:

Thank you all for your work, and please let me hear from you on what you are doing-

- Thelma Young
Campaigns Coordinator

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Tipping Point of Violence

Right now, Burma is on the verge of social collapse. Protests against the ruling military junta are fast reaching a boiling point. Demonstrations began last month after sudden draconian fuel hikes of 500%. When the military used force to disperse protesting monks, monks demanded an apology. However, the junta refused to cave in. And so the Alliance of all Burma Buddhist Monks has called for apatam nikkujjana kamma, which is a boycott of alms from the military and its supporters. In Buddhist culture, alms in the form of food or money is given to monks in order to receive merit, or good karma. Refusing to grant merit is akin to a spiritual death and a colossal loss of face. The last time monks stood up to the junta was in 1990 over the fallout from the 1988 uprising. The junta responded with punishing force, throwing hundreds of monks into jail and forcibly defrocking 300.

Many fear that the current situation is a time bomb waiting to explode. The junta has the wherewithal to respond with crushing brutality that can certainly surpass the violence of 1988. Last Monday, more than 100,000 marched in Rangoon, the former capital. Monks are now encouraging students and civilians to get involved. Artists, writers, and celebrities are throwing their weight in, as are the ethnic groups and political opposition parties.

from US Campaign for Burma

Burma Campaign UK sources in Rangoon have reported that soldiers have been ordered to shave their heads, in possible preparation for infiltrating peaceful demonstrations. They would start rioting or attacking police, providing the regime with a pretext for a brutal crackdown on protestors.

Sources indicate that soldiers from Light Battalion 77 in Rangoon have been given the order. Sources also report that the regime has ordered 3,000 monks robes from a factory in Rangoon.

It is a tactic the regime has used in the past, including at the Depayin
massacre in 2003, during which Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested. Regime militia dressed as monks were involved in the ambush which left up to 100 democracy activists dead. State television today reported that action would be taken against protestors.

"We know from experience that the regime is capable of opening fire on civilians", said Mark Farmaner, acting Director of Burma Campaign UK. The regime came to power on the back of a massacre in 1988 that left at least 3,000 civilians dead. They have also been accused by the UN of breaking the Geneva Convention for their deliberate targeting of civilians in attacks on ethnic minorities.

Despite the widespread expectations that the regime will use violence to suppress protest, the international community has been remarkably silent, with the French government being the only one to make a strong statement warning of consequences if the regime respond with violence. ASEAN has also expressed concern.

"The regime has been held in check by the peoples' respect for the monks and the fact that the world is watching, but the scale of protests means they will be looking for options that allow them to justify a crackdown," said Mark Farmaner, "The UN Secretary General and other world leaders must speak out and make it clear that a violent response in unacceptable. At the moment the international community seems to be willing to watch from the sidelines as the regime moves closer to a massacre. If the regime does attack protestors, this will have been one of the most widely predicted massacres in recent history, and makes a mockery any government's claim to be committed to human rights."

new website:

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Burma Ranks 'Zero' in Worldwide Governance Indicators

From 9/14/07

Burma has been ranked ‘zero,’ the worst government in the world according to the amount of freedom citizens have to voice opinions and select a government, according to the latest Worldwide Governance Indicators report.

Countries with the best overall rankings included Denmark, 100; Canada, 94; and Australia, 93.
Countries with the worst overall rankings included Burma 0, China 4 and Vietnam 8.
The Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) research project, covering 212 countries and territories, measured six areas of governance between 1996 and 2006 to make its rankings: Voice and Accountability, Political Stability and Absence of Violence, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law and Control of Corruption.
In the Voice and Accountability category, Burma has ranked near ‘zero’ since 1996.

Among Burma's neighbors: India ranked 58; Thailand, 32 and China, 4. Laos was ranked 6; Cambodia, 21; Malaysia, 38; Indonesia, 41; Philippines, 44; and Singapore 46.

The Worldwide Governance Indicators are produced by researchers from the World Bank Institute and the World Bank Development Economics Research Group.

The aggregate indicators combine the views of a large number of enterprises, citizens and experts in industrial and developing countries. The individual data sources underlying the aggregate indicators are drawn from a variety of survey institutes, think tanks, non-governmental organizations and international organizations.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

China's Support of Burma's Oppressive Military Junta

This is not an ad, this is a plea for humanity. Ever since I saw Burmese migrant worker shantytowns in Thailand and the grinding poverty in Burma 2 years ago, the situation in Burma is currently deteriorating. I have cut and pasted information on US Campaign for Burma's latest campaign. Please read.


We are writing to you to launch a new campaign effort -- something we have never done before. As many of you know, for the past four years we have worked to try and get the United Nations to broker peaceful talks in Burma between Burma's military regime, the democracy movement led by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi, and Burma's ethnic groups. Since the UN Secretary General's efforts have so far failed, we worked on an effort to get the UN Security Council to address the situation in Burma.

- The United Nations General Assembly has smartly endorsed this approach, believing that only through negotiations can change come to Burma.

- The UN Secretary General is calling for the release, of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners in Burma.

- Additionally, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations -- or ASEAN -- is calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners in Burma

We know that the UN Secretary General and ASEAN have not done enough -- they can do a lot more and we believe they have made some mistakes. Our new campaign is not designed in any way to absolve them of their responsibilities under the UN Charter.

However, the primary obstacle making United Nations' efforts on Burma difficult is one country: China. China has repeatedly undermined the UN Secretary General, the UN system, and ASEAN by refusing to back the call for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners in Burma. China has also refused to call for peaceful tri-partite dialogue in Burma, again undermining UN efforts.

Providing billions for Burma's regime

Economically, China is exploiting the situation by signing deals left and right that essentially steal the natural resources of Burma out from under the Burmese people. According to the Shwe Gas Movement, China's new gas deal with the military regime is worth a staggering $40 billion dollars.

Selling billions in military arms

Militarily, China has sold billions in arms to Burma's military regime. These sales include tanks and armored personnel carriers, jet attack aircraft, small arms and light weapons, logistical and transportation equipment, and coastal patrol ships. These arms sales continue to this day.

Unilaterally blocking all UN and regional diplomatic efforts

Diplomatically, China is undermining diplomatic efforts by ASEAN and the United Nations. Three diplomatic missions to Burma to secure the release of Aung San Suu Kyi by leading Southeast Asian senior statesmen Indonesian Ali Alatas, Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid, and Filippino Foreign Minister Alberto Romulo all failed, mainly because China did not endorse these efforts. China went even further to protect the Burmese military regime by vetoing the one and only United Nations Security Council resolution on Burma. The resolution would have given the power the UN Secretary General that he needs to effectively negotiate with the military regime in Burma. China completely blocked it.

In addition to China's neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations: the European Union, the United States, Japan, Australia, 14 United Nations Special Rapportuers, One Dozen Nobel Peace Prize recipients, and 59 former Presidents and Prime Ministers from around the world have called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.

China has the leverage to support change in Burma

Yet, despite this overwhelming support for Burma's military regime, human rights activists and Burmese people around the world have never once organized a concerted campaign to pressure China to make modifications to its policy on Burma. That is because Burmese people don't want to see Chinas an enemy but as a friend. But China doesn't seem to be listening. Even though the National League for Democracy, 88 Generation Students, and others inside Burma have NEVER ONCE CRITICIZED CHINA's POLICY ON BURMA, China doesn't seem to care. They just continue to ignore the goodwill of Burma's democracy movement and ethnic minorities while undermining each and every international diplomatic effort.

It's time for all of us to say "enough is enough". The simple and undeniable fact is that if China tells the Burmese military regime it must participate in negotiations -- as the UN has repeatedly called for -- the regime will have no choice but to say yes. China does have the leverage -- they just haven't used it at all.

If this were a simple matter of negotiating or not, China's position would be understandable. But the situation in Burma is much much different and extremely grave. The military regime has destroyed 3,000 villages in eastern Burma (twice as many as in Darfur, Sudan) and continues its scorched earth campaign to this day. Mothers, children, and innocent civilians are being slaughtered or forced from their homes. The regime has recruited more child soldiers than any other country in the world. The regime's soldiers are raping innocent women as a war tactic. Over 1,200 political prisoners remain behind bars. Just as the UN was paralyzed and acted far too late on Rwanda, Sudan, and elsewhere, now China is paralyzing the UN into action on Burma.

We urge you to join with us in launching a new, organized, high-level campaign to convince China to modify its policy on Burma. Specifically, we want them to:

1) Stop undermining the UN Secretary General and call for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners in Burma

2) Insist publicly that Burma's military regime participate in tri-partite dialogue with Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy and Burma's ethnic groups.

3) Stop blocking the UN Security Council from doing its job -- by publicly indicating China will no longer veto peaceful, nonviolent UN Security Council resolutions.

As a very first step, we are asking you to join with us in organizing demonstrations around the world at embassies and consulates of China's government. There are people interested in Burma and human rights all over the world, so lets do this at as many embassies as possible. We are organizing this action on September 18th because it is the anniversary of the take-over of Burma's military regime in 1988. At that time, Burma's regime was solely responsible for the atrocities it inflicted on its own people. Now, however, the responsibility has become China's as well. By blocking every single peaceful avenue toward change, the blood of Burma's regime is also on China's hands.

This is just the first step. There are going to be many more actions and ways for you to join in the campaign.

Please write to us at: if you can organize a demonstration in front of the Chinese embassy or consulate in your city/country on September 18th. We will keep a list of all actions and help you with media attention for that day. It's just ludicrous that they've gotten away with their indefensible, unilateral position for so long and it's time to call them to account.

Support 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi and the struggle for freedom and democracy in Burma.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Earthrights International is hosting a day of screenings for the film Total Denial on September 15, 2007.

Total Denial- a film by Milena Kaneva - and winner of the 2006 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Award is a dramatic and moving documentary which chronicles the personal and political journeys of the groundbreaking human rights lawsuit, Doe v. Unocal, brought by EarthRights International and villagers from Burma against oil giant Unocal. The documentary tells about how 15 indigenous people of Burma came out victorious over a leading corporation in a US court.


ONE MAN, wanted by the law both in Burma and in Thailand - KA HSAW WA.

SLAVE LABOR, a common practice in BURMA, a country
now called Myanmar, controlled by a military dictatorship.

Two WESTERN CORPORATIONS making business deals with
a junta infamous for HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES.

This is the story of the construction of the UNOCAL/TOTAL oil pipeline in Burma.

An unprecedented legal battle will unfold in a US courtroom, shocking
the world with its revelations.

Fifteen plaintiffs who've never left the Burmese jungle
will battle head-to-head with two corporate giants.
The outcome of this struggle will profoundly affect the actions
of corporations worldwide.

Some good links:


Doe v. Unocal Case History
Monday, 30 January 2006
Doe v. Unocal Settled; Unocal to Compensate Villagers

Unocal has agreed to settle the claims in Doe v. Unocal and compensate the villagers who sued the firm for complicity in forced labor, rape, and murder. Read the full press release here

Plaintiffs in this case seek redress for the human rights abuses associated with the Unocal pipeline project in Burma. The plaintiffs are Burmese peasants who suffered a variety of egregious violations at the hands of Burmese army units that were securing the pipeline route. These abuses included forced relocation, forced labor, rape, torture, and murder. In addition to EarthRights International (ERI), counsel for the plaintiffs includes Paul Hoffman, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Hadsell & Stormer, and Judith Brown Chomsky.

In a landmark decision in 1997, a U.S. federal district court in Los Angeles agreed to hear Doe v. Unocal. The Court concluded that corporations and their executive officers can be held legally responsible under the Alien Tort Claims Act for violations of international human rights norms in foreign countries, and that U.S. courts have the authority to adjudicate such claims.

After three years of discovery, the plaintiffs presented evidence demonstrating that, in the Court's words, “Unocal knew that the military had a record of committing human rights abuses; that the Project hired the military to provide security for the Project, a military that forced villagers to work and entire villages to relocate for the benefit of the Project; that the military, while forcing villagers to work and relocate, committed numerous acts of violence; and that Unocal knew or should have known that the military did commit, was committing and would continue to commit these tortious acts.”

The Court also concluded that "the evidence does suggest that Unocal knew that forced labor was being utilized and that [Unocal and Total, a co-venturer in the Yadana project] benefited from the practice" and that "The violence perpetrated against Plaintiffs is well documented in the deposition testimony filed under seal with the Court." Nonetheless, the Court dismissed the case, concluding that Unocal could not be held liable unless Unocal wanted the military to commit abuses, and that plaintiffs had not made this showing. Plaintiffs have appealed this decision.

On September 18, 2002, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the District Court’s decision allowing the lawsuit against Unocal to go forward. The three-judge panel held that the District Court was wrong in determining that the plaintiffs had to show that Unocal controlled the Burmese military’s actions in order to establish Unocal’s liability. The Ninth Circuit held that the plaintiffs need only demonstrate that Unocal knowingly assisted the military in perpetrating the abuses for Unocal to be held liable. Under this standard, the Court determined that the plaintiffs had presented enough evidence to go to trial.

Most recently, in February 2003, the Ninth Circuit Court decided to rehear the appeal before an eleven-judge en banc panel. Although the Court’s decision erases the previous ruling, the plaintiffs are confident that the Court will again hold that Unocal may be found liable.

Regardless of the pending appeal’s outcome, however, the courts’ earlier opinions fully validates what the victims have alleged. Never again can Unocal deny that its project was built with the blood and tears of innocent people. No longer can there be any doubt that Unocal's involvement in Burma is morally reprehensible. The victims' voices have finally been heard, and Unocal is forever shamed. That is an enormous victory for a group of people who have literally risked their lives to tell their stories to the world.

Because the plaintiffs' state law based claims against Unocal were dismissed without ruling on them, plaintiffs have refiled those claims in California state court. Unocal petitioned the federal court to reassert jurisdiction over those claims, but the Court rejected Unocal's motion.

Subsequently, on August 20, 2001, Unocal’s motion to dismiss the case from state court was rejected. Unocal argued to the state court that the federal court’s dismissal barred plaintiffs’ state case because federal and state law are the same. The Court did not accept that argument, noting that state law differs from federal law. Unocal also made a number of arguments based upon the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit that struck down Massachusetts' Burma Sanctions law. In particular, Unocal argued that it would violate the U.S. Constitution for a state court to hear plaintiffs' claims because doing so would intrude upon U.S. foreign relations, and that plaintiffs' claims are preempted by the federal Burma sanctions law. The court rejected all of these arguments.

June 11, 2002 marked another precedent-setting day in the case against Unocal when the lawsuit survived Unocal’s motion for summary judgment. The Superior Court of California’s decision makes the case against Unocal the first in U.S. history in which a corporation will stand trial for human rights abuses committed abroad.

In that decision, Judge Victoria Chaney held that the case against Unocal should go to trial because there are material issues of fact with respect to whether Unocal is responsible for human rights violations. Specifically, the Court found evidence that would allow a jury to find that Unocal’s joint venture hired the military and that Unocal is therefore vicariously liable for the military’s human rights abuses, and to conclude that Unocal breached California Constitutional and statutory law in its operations.

In the first phase of the trial, Judge Chaney concluded that the Unocal subsidiaries involved in the Project are not sham entities. On September 14, 2004 Judge Chaney ruled that the plaintiffs are entitled to a trial on their other theories of liability. In so doing, she rejected Unocal's argument that she should dismiss the case in light of her prior decision, noting that decision "does not preclude [the plaintiffs] from proving defendants controlled specific aspects of the Yadana project to an extent beyond that permissible by a mere owner."

Judge Chaney had set a trial date for June of 2005 for a jury trial on the plaintiffs' claims of murder, rape, and forced labor. In March of 2005, Unocal agreed to compensate the plaintiffs in a historic settlement that ended the lawsuit.

The US oil company Unocal has agreed to compensate Burmese villagers who sued the firm for complicity in forced labor, rape and murder. The abuses were committed in the mid-1990's by soldiers providing security for Unocal’s natural gas pipeline in southern Burma.

In addition to compensating the villagers, most of whom are destitute and living in hiding from the Burmese regime, the settlement funds will also enable the plaintiffs to develop programs to improve living conditions, health care and education and protect the rights of people from the pipeline region. These initiatives will provide substantial assistance to people who suffered hardships in the region.

The settlement ends a series of cases filed by two groups of plaintiffs in both federal and California state court. These landmark cases, Doe v. Unocal and Roe v. Unocal, are now closed.

The Roe and Doe actions were litigated together by a team of lawyers that included Dan Stormer, Anne Richardson and Cornelia Dai of Hadsell & Stormer, Terry Collingsworth and Natacha Thys of the International Labor Rights Fund, Paul Hoffman of Schonbrun, De Simone, Seplow, Harris and Hoffman, Katie Redford, Tyler Giannini and Richard Herz of EarthRights International, The Law Offices of Judith Chomsky and Jennifer Green of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Ka Hsaw Wa of EarthRights International served as a liason and interpretor for eleven of the plaintiffs.

The Legal Team has jointly issued the following statement:

The fifteen individuals who brought these cases suffered horribly at the hands of the Burmese military, with the complicity of Unocal. They risked their lives for the last eight years seeking justice through these suits. These villagers, ethnic minorities from a remote region, living under a brutal dictatorship, took on a major US multinational oil company in court - and won. We are thrilled for our clients and gratified that the settlement will provide funds benefitting other victims of the Yadana pipeline.

More generally, this is a historic victory for human rights and for the corporate accountability movement. Corporations can no longer fool themselves into thinking they can get away with human rights violations. This case will reverberate in corporate boardrooms around the world and will have a deterrent effect on the worst forms of corporate behavior.

On behalf of the plaintiffs, we thank the many people and organizations working tirelessly to promote democracy in Burma. Our colleagues in the “Free Burma” movement have been instrumental in calling public attention to Unocal’s complicity in the abuses suffered by so many in the pipeline region. We look forward to the day that freedom and democracy will come to Burma; a time when its citizens will live with hope rather than fear, under law rather than tyranny, and when the people of Burma will never again suffer egregious military abuses, whether in support of political repression or the corporate greed of companies like Unocal.

John Doe IX, a plaintiff who had done back-breaking forced labor in the mid 1990’s, said, "I don’t care about the money. Most of all I wanted the world to know what Unocal did. Now you know."

Louisa Benson, a California resident who served as a plaintiff representing the people of California, added "I am gratified for two reasons. First, there is now awareness that corporations need to be accountable for their partners' actions as well as their own. Second, many people have lost their lives on this project, but those that still remain can now begin to get their lives back together."

The settlement was one of Unocal’s last major actions as an independent oil company. Pending approval by its shareholders and US authorities, Unocal will be acquired by ChevronTexaco. Coincidentally, some of the same groups that litigated Doe v. Unocal, including ERI, are also co-counsel in Bowoto v. ChevronTexaco, a lawsuit alleging complicity in human rights violations by the oil giant in Nigeria. The lawsuit against ChevronTexaco has many parallels to the Doe v. Unocal case.


From the US Campaign for Buma:

We are urging human rights supporters and Burmese throughout the world to organize demonstrations at China's embassies and consulates on Tuesday, September 18th, 2007, the anniversary of the take-over of Burma's military regime in 1988.

Since China has paralyzed the United Nations Security Council from doing its job on Burma, the Council has failed to act, just as it waited until too late in Rwanda and Darfur. Therefore, for the first time in history we are launching a new, concerted campaign to call on China to modify its position on Burma.

There are protests happening around the world, but here is the information for those happening in the US - the address as well as the person to contact if you are interested in participating

Chinese Embassy in Washington DC
Address: 2201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W
Protest Time: 6:00pm Sept 18th
Contact Person: Thelma Young -

Chinese Consulate General in Chicago, IL
Address: 1 East Erie Street, Suite 500
Contact Person: Cristina Moon – Protest Time: 11:30am-1pm

Chinese Consulate General in Houston, TX
Address: 3417 Montrose Blvd.
Contact Person: Claire Balani –

Chinese Consulate General in Los Angeles, CA
Address: 443 Shatto Place, Los Angeles, CA 90020
Contact Person: Tom Tran –- ProtestTime: Sept 16, 10am-12

Chinese Consulate General in New York, NY
Address: 520 12th Avenue, New York, NY 10036
Contact Person: Farheen Malik – Protest Time: 6:30-8:30pm

Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco, CA
Address: 1450 Laguna Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
Contact: Brandon Erickson Protest Time: 6-7pm

Chinese Consulate-General in Auckland, New Zealand
Address: 588 Great South Road, Greenlane, Auckland, New Zealand
Protest Time: Sept 18th
Contact Person: Naing Ko Ko at (64-2) 121 8118 and

Chinese Embassy in Seoul, Korea
Address: 54 Hyoja-Dong, Jongno-Gu, Seoul, Korea
Protest Time: Sept 18th
Contact Person: Kyaw Swar Linn (NLD-LA, Korea), (82) 10 4799 0718 or

Chinese Embassy in London, United Kingdom
Address: 49-51 Portland Place, London, W1B 1JL
Protest Time: Sept 18th
Contact Person: Mark Farmaner (Burma Campaign UK) at (44) 796 135 9640 or

Chinese Embassy in Brussel, Belgium
Address: 463, Avenue De Tervuren, 1160 Brussels, Belgium
Protest Time: Sept 18th
Contact Person: Ko Kyaw Sein at + 31 (0) 474 726121, or

Chinese Consulate in Frankfurt, Germany
Address: Mainzer Landstr. 175, 60326 Frankfurt
Protest Time: Sept 18th, 09:30 to 10:30 AM
Contact Person: Ko Sonny at +49 1735347534 or Ko Htoo Min at +491749114193 or Naing Win Htun at +49 15202317631

Chinese Embassy in the Netherlands
Address: Willem Lodewijklaan 102517 JT , the Hague, THE NETHERLANDS
Protest Time: Sept 18th, 1:00-3:00 PM
Contact Person: Myat Thiha at H (00) 31 2062 45731, M (00) 31 6255 40098,, and Nyi Nyi Yu at

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Echoing Green Question #3 References