Saturday, April 08, 2006


Dear Total.......(part 1)

This is Jean Francois Lassalle-Total's PR man. It's his job to put a good spin on Total's investment in Burma....that's a pretty hard job considering the rape, torture and genocide but that's why he's paid tens of thousands of euro's a year. It was Lassalle who was sent to Scandenavia on a damage-limitation mission when one of Norway's biggest newspapers called for people to stop investing in Total -about the same time that in Holland television adverts calling for the boycott were screened and protestors laid hundreds of fake corpses outside Total's heaquarters.
So since last year we've been e-mailing Mr. Lassalle to tell him first hand how sick we are of Total's human rights abuses. From now on each e-mail and each reply will be posted up here for you to see our questions to Total and Total's attempts at justifying their actions.
We sent out first e-mail of the year this morning.....
09:18 08 April 2006
Dear Mr. Lassalle,
I apologize that it has been so long since my last e-mail. I have a few points to raise with you regarding our previous discussion regarding the situation in Burma.
Firstly you claim that should Total withdraw they would simply be replaced by another multinational and that British American Tobacco (previously the largest investor in Burma) was replace by "Rothmans Pall Mall" (your e-mail on December 22nd 2005). I think you will find that Rothman of Pall Mall, to whom I presume your refer, was the name for BAT's Burmese subsidiary and ceased all investments in Burma after an international campaign in 2003.
You also state the economic investment will help the people of Burma. May I remind you of Aung Sann Suu Kyi's (the democratically elected leader of Burma) thoughts on the issue of sanctions:

“I don’t think we have found evidence that sanctions have harmed the Burmese people, because they have been clearly limited and many of those who have suffered under sanctions have belonged to the business community. Naturally some ordinary employees have been exposed, but we have not yet found proof that large numbers of Burmese have suffered as a result of sanctions. Sanctions have a role to play because they are a strong political message. But also because they are an economic message. ”

How can you suggest that economic investment is good for Burma when Aung Sung Suu Kyi, who won 80.82% of seats in the last election is in favor of sanctions.

This brings me on to the fundamental question which you have missed in my previous e-mails. Do Total recognize Suu Kyi's legitimacy? The last democratic election in Burma was held in 1990 and the National League for democracy won 80.82% of the seats with 52.44% of the vote (creating a more democratically legitimate government than in either the UK or France). It is also significant that a large proportion of the remaining votes went to parties allied to the NLD -the Shan National league for Democracy, Karen National League for Democracy etc. Do Total-therefore, recognize Aung Sung Suu Kyi as the legitimate leader of the country and the NLD and allies as the legitimate ruling party or do you recognize general Than Shwe and his military regime as the legitimate rulers?

Finally on November 22nd last year you told me
"I will respond to [your inquiry] when I get the results of the investigation I previously mentioned about the rape of the 14 year old girl."
This was in reference to a fourteen year old Burmese girl being raped by a gang of up to sixteen soldiers guarding the Total pipeline. It has been over five months since you ensured me an investigation was underway-what has happened since? Has Total found the soldiers responsible? Has Total pressured the Tatmadaw/regime to hold an internal investigation? Has Total called in external investigators to ensure that the case is investigated fairly? Has Total issued a public statement condemning the rapes?

I await your replies,
Yours sincerely,
We'll post up Mr. Lassalle's reply as soon as we recieve it......

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