Saturday, October 06, 2007

Human Rights Update 10-6-07: Chevron, Condoleeza Rice & the Burmese Thugocracy

Image: UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari with Aung San Suu Kyi Rangoon

Human Rights Update 10-6-07: Chevron, Condoleeza Rice & the Burmese Thugocracy

By Richard Power

The _resident and his Secretary of State want you to think that they are appalled at what is happening in Burma, and that they would do something about it if they only could, if only the Chinese and the Russians weren't standing in the way.

Well, their posturing is a sham.

Condoleezza Rice used to be on the Board of Directors of Chevron. She had an oil tanker named after her. Her plan is to retire to the Hoover Institute at Stanford when it is all over for the Bush-Cheney regime. So she is quite chummy still, no doubt, with Chevron.

Human rights groups are calling for Chevron to leave, but its executives say it won't. The argument is that Chevron's investment is helping "hundreds of thousands of people." Well, Burma is a country of over forty million people. Are the "hundreds of thousands" those who work directly for the Burmese Thugocracy?

Even if Chevron's presence were helping "hundreds of thousands," the symbolic power of their departure would help over forty million.

Chevron also says that it is an "attractive asset" and "others would be interested."

So, in other words, the reason Chevron is going to continue to bloody its hands in Burma is because some other corporate entity would seize the opportunity to bloody its hands if Chevron left.

Such statements defy conscience and common sense.

Here are some excerpts from an excellent story by David R. Baker in the S.F. Chronicle, with a link to the full text:

Chevron Corp. of San Ramon is drawing harsh criticism for its business ties to Burma, the Asian nation conducting a brutal military crackdown.
The company owns part of a natural gas project in Burma, where soldiers crushed pro-democracy protests last week and killed at least 10 people.
U.S. sanctions prevent most U.S. companies from working in Burma, but Chevron’s investment there existed before the sanctions were imposed and continues under a grandfather clause. As a result, the company is one of the few large Western companies left in the country.
Now Chevron faces pressure to pull out.
Human rights activists are calling on the company to either leave Burma or persuade the country’s military rulers to stop killing demonstrators. Bloggers are encouraging people to flood Chevron’s phone and fax lines in protest. Some are calling for a boycott.
“There’s no question that the money from the pipeline project helps prop up the military government,” said Marco Simons, U.S. legal director for EarthRights International. “If Chevron can stop people from getting killed by using its influence, we’d certainly like to see that. In the long run, we don’t think anyone should be doing business with this government.”
But Chevron doesn’t intend to leave. ...
“I’m convinced that hundreds of thousands of people in Burma have benefited,” said Chevron Vice Chairman Peter Robertson, who pointed to the community doctors and teachers his company has paid for. “They benefit from us being there.”
There’s also the question of whether pulling out would work.
Chevron owns a minority stake in the Yadana natural gas field and pipeline, a little more than 28 percent. Both China and India have been eager to do business with Burma, hoping to secure some of the fuel supplies that their surging economies need. If Chevron left, one country or another would try to take its place, Robertson said.
“It’s pretty clear that this is a very attractive asset, and other people would be interested,” he said.
David R. Baker, Chevron’s Links to Burma Stir Critics to Demand It Pull Out, 10-4-07

Some Burma-Related Words of Power Posts

Human Rights Update: Blackwater, Burma, Darfur & You

Human Rights Watch to Business: "Keeping quiet while monks & other peaceful protesters are murdered & jailed is not ... constructive engagement."

Human Rights Update: Blackwater, Burma, Darfur & You

Hard Rain Journal 9-27-07: Aung San Suu Kyi was Elected in 1990, Al Gore was Elected in 2000 -- Consider What Has Befallen Both Countries Since

Hard Rain Journal 9-27-07: Bush, Ahmadinejad and the Monks of Burma -- Illuminating Contrasts

Human Rights Update 9-24-07: Don't Miss the Multiple Meanings of this Moment in Burma

Human Rights Update 9-23-07: Will You Step Outside & Join the Burmese in 15 Minutes of Prayer?

GS(3) Thunderbolt 9-14-07: In Pakistan, the Dharma Repels an Attack; In Burma, the Dharma Sparks an Uprising

Human Rights Update 6-12-07: Remember Aung San Suu Kyi, Honor Her Sacrifice, Reflect on Your Own Freedom & What You Choose to Do With It

Hard Rain Journal 1-8-07: Human Rights and Environmental Security Update from Burma, Cambodia and Mekong River

Words of Power #24: Lost Symbols, Part One – Aung San Suu Kyi, AQ Khan, & The World Tree

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