Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Aung San Su Kyi

Total: the name's appeared a couple of times recently. Jane Birkin recently released a song (in English) called Aung San Su Kyi: she's been active in France on behalf of the Nobel Peace Prize winner. I heard the song on the radio some nights ago, recounting, in that sad vulnerable voice, the treatment of Aung San by the Burmese junta. & that was the first mention of Total, a French company that, in conjunction with Chevron, runs the Yadana pipeline that pumps oil out of Burma – and dollars to a junta that controls one of the poorest and most backward countries in the world. The song is a precis of the Earth Rights International report, released on 10/09/2009, which claims that 75% of the Yadana revenues go directly to the junta and that, instead of being spent locally, much of the money finds its way into secret bank accounts offshore of Singapore.

And the other mention? Total is one of the sponsors of the Picasso-Cezanne exhibition.

It's astonishing how toothless world opposition to the Burmese junta appears to be. Politicians say it is bad: the rest of us seem to shrug our shoulders. The report doesn't seem to have been mentioned in the UK press. The recent 'trial' of Aung San, like the suppression of the monks' protests and the deaths not so long ago, seem to have passed with a bit of token outrage. Shamefully, the junta looks secure for the time being: oil supports the junta, since Burma has little other trade with the outside world, and the report suggests that if Total pulled out, Chinese companies would take over...

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