Thursday, August 24, 2006


Jails and Genocide-Behind the Spin (Part 1)

Total’s presence in Burma is shrouded in corporate lingo; ‘socio economic programmes’, ‘ethical guidelines’ and ‘constructive engagement’.
But take away the corporate spin and take a look at what Total are really funding. Every year Total give over £200 000 000 ($450 000 000) to the Burmese regime in return for Burma’s oil[1]. Where does this go? Generally not on health (on which the regime spend just 19p per person each year, or 0.3% of their GDP-the lowest in the world[2]), most likely not on primary education (which isn’t available to 60% of children[3]) and almost certainly not on universities (the regime have closed down the majority of these). In fact the money isn’t really going to the people of Burma at all; 43% of children suffer from malnutrition and one in ten children die before their 5th birthday.
So let us take a look at where the majority of the regimes spending (coming foremost from Total) goes; on their prisons and on their genocide.
Currently 1183 political prisoners languish in Burma’s jails[4] where they are routinely tortured by the regime, who use the following methods:

Since 1988 126 democracy activists have been tortured to death in Burma’s jails. These people are imprisoned purely for their beliefs or for speaking out against the regime; many are reporters, one is a 4 year old girl, the youngest political prisoner in the world imprisoned because her father is a democracy activist[6].

As the regime spends such a large proportion of it’s income on arresting, detaining, torturing and executing democracy activists (and their families) and Total is the largest supplier of funds to the regime it is indisputable that much of the money Total pays them (coming from those filling up and Total petrol stations around the world) is used in Burma’s barbaric prison and torture system.

Total knows the situation –they know that their money is likely spent on the torture, rape and murder of political prisoners (aged four to eighty) in Burma’s notorious jails; yet they have never once made any objections. We call on Total to:

What can we do?

So far Total has never condemned the torture it funds or even attempted to make a difference, but with public pressure we can change that:

Thank you

[Part 2 will focus on Total’s funds being used in the genocide of the Karen people and the persecution of other ethnic groups]

[1] Burma Campaign UK Report ‘Total Oil- Fuelling the Oppression in Burma’
[2] Burma Campaign UK Report ‘Total Oil- Fuelling the Oppression in Burma’
[3] Burma Campaign UK Report ‘Total Oil- Fuelling the Oppression in Burma’
[4] Human Rights Watch
[5] List from AAPP report ‘The Darkness we see’
[6] Indo-Burma News

Students Against Total

Totalitarian Oil

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