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FRANCE: Campaign Launched to Pressure Total into Leaving Myanmar

Turkish Press
February 21st, 2005

Some 40 organizations launched an international campaign aimed at pressuring the French oil giant Total to pull out of Myanmar, where they said the company's activities support a military dictatorship, a French activist collective announced.

The campaign is led by the International Federation for Human Rights, Actions Birmanie of Belgium and the French collective, which is called "Total pollutes democracy."

"Total must pull out of Burma (Myanmar) not only for having taken advantage of army-imposed forced labor, between 1995 and 1998, for the construction of the Yadana gas pipeline but also because it fills the coffers of a predatory regime," Olivier De Schutter, secretary general of the International Federation for Human Rights, told a press conference.

"It is not possible to pretend, as Total does, that you can deal with Burma without enabling the junta to increase its power.

"The entire economy is in the hands of a small group of soldiers who do nothing for the population," he charged.

"Forty percent of the budget is allocated to military spending; 0.4 percent to health and education, according to the United Nations Development Program."

If Total withdraws from Myanmar, according to the French collective, "one would hope that France would finally support the adoption of significant economic sanctions against the Burmese junta, as the democratic movement in the country has asked."

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