Stop foreign investment in Burma

27 September 2007

Stop foreign investment in Burma

The SP will use an emergency parliamentary debate on developments in Burma to demand an embargo on all foreign investment in the country. Party Spokeswoman Krista van Velzen will call on Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen to seek European support. “We must put an end to the way such regimes are propped up by corporations who fail to accept their responsibilities. The Netherlands and the EU have to date treated this criminal regime far too gently.”

Burmese monks and the Burmese people have for the first time in almost two decades risen in rebellion against the military regime which has run their country for forty-five years. The military junta is currently reacting with brutal violence against peaceful protests. To get rid of the regime the Burmese opposition has for some time called for a boycott of corporations which do business with the dictatorship and thus keep it in power.

In 2005 the Burma Centre in the Netherlands and the development NGO XminY Solidarity Fund launched the "Tank-geen-Total" (Don't Fill Up With Total) campaign, which won support from a wide range of organisations including the 'ethical' finance company ASN Bank, development NGOs Both Ends and the Evert Vermeer Foundation, the Netherlands' major trade union federation the FNV, environmentalist group 'Milieudefensie' (Environmental Defence), Oxfam Novib, the progressive research organisation TNI (The Transnational Institute), and the SP. The French oil company Total is by some distance the biggest investor in Burma, and its investments keep the military regime in the saddle. “Total continues to invest in the regime," says Van Velzen, "despite repeated calls and widespread protests. I want to ask people in the Netherlands if they will give their support to the demonstrators in Burma, if they have not already done so, by not filling their tanks with Total until this corporation stops investing in this criminal regime."

The campaign to persuade Total to change its ways is attempting to emulate the success of similar actions directed at a number of firms including Heineken, Sloggi, Triumph and shipbuilding and engineering group IHC Calland.

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