A handful of Burmese and British protesters braved the cold weather of London, UK urging Total Oil to pull out of Burma. Holding placards and banners saying ‘Total Disgrace – Free Burma’, the group actively chanted slogans protesting against the French oil giant in front of one of the company’s petrol stations near Kilburn tube station yesterday.
“This has been going on since October, 2007 from place to place including Total London Headquarter. We are doing this because a western investor in Burma, Total, refuses to pull out of Burma. We want to put pressure on Total to respect the voices and wishes of Burma’s democratic movements. And we want Total to pull out of Burma rather than helping to keep the military regime in power,” a local resident, Daniel Viesnik of Totaloutofburma.org told Chinland Guardian.
The participants, wrapped up well yet shaken by a very chilly wind, handed out leaflets to the passers-by. Total Oil is the fourth largest oil company in the world and one of the biggest foreign investors in Burma; it is in a joint venture with Burma’s dictatorship in the Yadana gas project in southern Burma, according to the leaflet.
“I want to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Burmese people to use our freedom to promote democracy in Burma. Also, I strongly recommend more British people to get involved in this cause,” said a British participant and photographer, who asked not to be named.
The ongoing campaign supported by various organisations including Burma Campaign UK last month called on the company to stop giving the brutal military junta hundreds of millions of dollars as the largest western supporter of the military regime. “The existence of Total in Burma profits the junta enormously. The regime uses the money for buying weapons. And they use these weapons to kill the Burmese people instead of protecting and helping them,” said Ko Htein Lin, an 88 Generation student, wearing a red NLD-logo headband.
“Each and every one of us, the Burmese, has got a duty to do in this cause. We should stand together in support of giving pressure to Total Oil, a major financial supporter of Burma’s dictatorship,” said a computer student, Myint Wai, holding a placard that reads “TOTALitarian Oil Fuelling the oppression in Burma”.
The campaign happens on Wednesday and Thursday every week.
With more than a population of 50 millions, Burma has been ruled for decades by one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world. The regime has been condemned and accused of various human rights violations including systematic use of forced labour, rape against ethnic women and conscription of child soldiers.
Van Biak Thang
01 February, 2008