The Guardian (London) July 28, 2000
Eyes Wide Shut
What do Dick Cheney, Slobodan Milosevic and the British company Premier Oil have in common? Answer: they all firmly believe in doing business with Burma, home to perhaps the world's most oppressive regime. For Mr Cheney, who was picked this week as George W Bush's Republican running-mate and is thus quite possibly the next US vice-president, the appalling human rights record of the Rangoon military junta presents no bar to trade. As chief executive of Dallas-based Halliburton Co, the world's largest oilfield services company, he backed a lobbying group, USA Engage, opposed to the current US investment sanctions on Burma. As a board member of another pressure group, the pro-business National Foreign Trade Council, Mr Cheney's company also recently helped persuade the supreme court to overturn a Massachusetts state law which imposed penalties on companies trading with Burma. Gulf war veteran Cheney fervently believes in making the world a safer place for America's oil industry.
Mr Milosevic's top priority is a safer world for Slobodan Milosevic. The solated Yugoslav president and indicted war criminal will talk to almost anybody these days; hence, in recent months, closer ties with Libya and Iraq, like Serbia the target of sanctions, and China. Earlier this month, he entertained Win Aung, Burma's foreign minister, in Belgrade. Mr Milosevic said they agreed that sanctions imposed on sovereign states were "a criminal form of behaviour (and) a massive violation of human rights". Unsurprisingly, Mr Milosevic is not troubled by the well-documented misery of child slave workers in Burma, nor by the International Labour Organisation's formal accusation that the junta has com mitted "an international crime", possibly amounting to "a crime against humanity" in exploiting forced labour.
Nor, apparently, are Burma's hundreds of political prisoners, its thousands of arbitrary arrests and torture cases, and the tens of thousands of ethnic Karen and other tribespeople abused, killed or driven from their land by the Burmese army over-troubling to Premier Oil. Despite pleas to quit from the government, concern from shareholders, and the withdrawal of its erstwhile partner, Texaco, Premier persists with its multi-million pound Yetagun gas pipeline. The company conceded at its AGM last May that human rights and environmental abuses had been linked to the project and that the junta's record was "inexcusable". But it steadfastly refuses to get out.
Never mind the Foreign Office view that such ventures underpin the systematic repression in Burma since 1962 and undermine international efforts to effect peaceful change. Never mind that the Nobel prizewinner Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy, and her supporters still face brutal, daily intimidation 10 years after elections in which they won 82% of the vote. Forget about the junta's looting of the country, its criminal involvement in heroin production and trafficking (second only to Afghanistan), and the dire humanitarian and refugee problems resulting from its tyranny. And ignore the fact that bigger, better companies than Premier, like Pepsi-Co, Eastman Kodak, and Best Western, have pulled out.
All that, Premier and other companies with big Burmese operations like Unocal and Total/Fina/Elf seem to say, is not our business. It may sound sick to you. But it makes Dick and Slobodan proud.
FAIR USE NOTICE. This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Corporate Watch is making this article available in our efforts to advance understanding of ecological sustainability, human rights, economic democracy and social justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Notice: TGS HiddenMysteries and/or the donor of this material may or may not agree with all the data or conclusions of this data. It is presented here 'as is' for your benefit and research. Material for these pages are sent from around the world. If by chance there is a copyrighted article posted which the author does not want read, email the webmaster and it will be removed. If proper credit for authorship is not noted please email the webmaster for corrections to be posted.
FAIR USE NOTICE. This site may at times contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml
United States Code: Title 17, Section 107 http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/unframed/17/107.html Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include - (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.