Skip to content or view screen version

Hammersmith Goldhawk Rd protest against Total Oppression in Burma

Awyame | 29.02.2008 20:48 | Anti-militarism | Repression | Social Struggles | London

Seven protesters demonstrated at the Raven Total station at 372 Goldhawk Road, Hammersmith against the French oil company on Thursday 28th February. Total's pipeline in Burma was built with forced labour and the company has for years been the largest western sponsor of the brutal regime, funding the military junta with hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

33 Cavendish Square office
33 Cavendish Square office

Even before the protest had started, the driver of a car at a nearby road junction, spotted a poster being put up and vowed not to use Total petrol stations in future. Several other drivers shared this view later and turned around or just drove through the station promising not to buy petrol from Total.

As the evening rush hour traffic built up, long queues at the traffic lights formed and many cars beeped at the two "Beep 4 Burma. Boycott Total" banners we held up. Many drivers wound down their windows to request leaflets as the queue became stationary/very slow moving.

There were more pedestrians than we were expecting and a very high percentage were interested in the leaflets we were handing out.

Cavendish Square

On Wednesday 27th February eight protesters demonstrated outside the Total offices at 33 Cavendish Square where we continue to hand out hundreds of leaflets even though we've been protesting there weekly since October.

French Film Festival

We've noticed that Total is sponsoring the French Film Festival which is taking place in London and also Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness, Birmingham, Didsbury, Warwick (see So we'll be at the first film being shown on 4th March in London though our protest is against Total sponsorship as the largest western sponsors of the brutal Burma military junta, not against the festival or the French films being shown.

Total and Burma

A detailed report on Total Oil's involvement in Burma, written by Burma Campaign UK, can be downloaded at

Total is in a joint venture with the dictatorship in the Yadana gas project in southern Burma. [1]

The gas project funds the junta with hundreds of millions of dollars a year and represents a major source of foreign currency for the regime to buy weapons and finance the army.

Burma has the world's worst health care [2], the most corruption [3] and the most child soldiers [4].

Protests in London next week:

Tuesday 4th March

Protest at Total sponsoring French Film Festival
(the protest is against Total, not the film festival or films being shown)
6.00pm - 7:30pm
Institut Francais
17 Queensberry Place London SW7 2DT
Tube: South Kensington Map:
(First Film being shown PRICELESS (15) 7.00pm + Q & A Pierre Salvadori

Wednesday 5th March

Meet at Burma Embassy for normal daily Burmese protest
Myanmar/Burma Embassy 19A, Charles St, London W1J 5DX.
Tube: Green Park | Map:

Total London HQ, 33 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0PW
Tube: Oxford Circus | Map:

Protests are held weekly but locations may change. For information and reports on protests in London and around the country please see

Make sure you've signed:

- The Burma Campaign UK e-action to TOTAL:
- The global pledge:
- Don't Forget Burma - send a photo message to the regime:

Burma Videos

Burma Campaign UK's video channel on YouTube:

- New to Burma? Watch these videos for a brief introduction
- This is Burma Music - U2, REM, Damien Rice, KT Tunstall...
- This is Burma: News and Documentaries - including Burma's Secret War
and Inside The Crackdown

Get TOTAL OIL out of Burma group on Facebook:

Recent Burma news: (see

Myanmar to jail referendum disrupters

YANGON, Myanmar (AP news) - Anyone who distributes leaflets or makes speeches against Myanmar’s constitutional referendum can be imprisoned for three years under new rules governing the May vote published by state media Wednesday.

The law, enacted Tuesday and published Wednesday in Myanmar-language newspapers, carries a three-year prison term and a fine of $86 for anyone who makes speeches or distributes leaflets to disrupt the voting process, the newspapers said. Tampering with ballot boxes carries the same penalty.

Monks, nuns, high-ranking Christian and Hindu officials, the mentally ill, people living in exile, convicted felons and foreigners are not eligible to participate in the referendum under the law. Islamic clergy are not mentioned, so can apparently vote.

Referendum law excludes monks and bans dissent

Feb 28, 2008 (DVB)–The Burmese government’s newly-approved referendum law has banned monks and prisoners from voting, and made campaigning against the referendum punishable by up to three years in prison.

Security tightened prior to referendum

On 24 February 2008 night, the militia, policemen and army personnel went to check the guest registries at many houses in Tachilek. Unregistered guests as well as house owners were detained and taken to the Township Peace and Development council office.

"The authorities are trying in many ways to make people vote for them in the election and bar Aung Sun Su kyi from participating in this election. They also arrested many Shan leaders so they could not compete in the election," a local said.

Mobile Phones, Radios Keep Resistance Alive

When Tun Myint Aung shifts from one safehouse to another, he goes armed with two items that have become indispensable. They are a mobile phone and a portable, Chinese-made radio, to listen to such anti-junta stations like the Democratic Voice of Burma, based in Oslo, Norway.

''The phone and the radio are very important now. I always take them wherever I go. They are next to me when I sleep,'' says Tun Myint Aung, in a voice with a hint of excitement, during a recent telephone interview with IPS from his current safehouse in the former Burmese capital. ''Through them I stay in touch with people outside, my friends, and follow the news about events in the country.''

But his Tecsum shortwave radio has taken on added value in military-ruled Burma's current oppressive climate. ''The radio has become a social weapon for me and for our movement,'' adds Tun Myint Aung over the phone, an act that could get him jailed. ''It is how the messages against the military regime are broadcast by us and others against them.''

The ''us'' he refers to is the '88 Generation Students', a highly respected group of former university graduates who have been at the vanguard of peaceful protests against Burma's repressive military leaders. The group gets its name from leading a pro-democracy popular movement in 1988, which was brutally crushed by the military, leaving some 3,000 protestors dead.

'There are 11 organisations we are working with to inform the public that the new constitution was not drafted by the people's representatives. We are also warning that the referendum will not be free and fair,'' says Tun Myint Aung. ''But if people want to vote, we are urging them to vote 'No'. They have to oppose the military's plan to get its political life extended legally.''

A mass movement against the referendum is also being discussed. ''We want a nation-wide silent movement against the military. We have been contacting people in our network, through the phone and other ways, to get this message out,'' he reveals. ''Our actions are to get as many people to lead this silent protest. That is how we have always worked. It is never been based on only one person.''

Chin relief group to help drought victims in western Burma

February 27, 2008 - Unable to wait any longer for the international community to help, India based Chin Famine Emergency Relief Committee have begun to take necessary steps to help the people from the famine called "Mautam" in Chin state, Burma.

The drought has taken place in the Indo-Burma border areas particularly Chin state in Burma and Mizoram state in India because of bamboo flowering since last year. Bamboo flowering helps multiply rats. Later, the rats destroy paddy fields and paddy stocks. Consequently, the production of paddy in the areas drastically falls.

The drought severely hit Paletwa, Matupi town, southern part of Chin state compared to other township, according to CFERC.

"Some villagers can't have food daily. So, the people go out to the forests searching for food. But, that will not solve the problem," Pu Samau, the present Chairman of Chin National Council said.

The Chin National Front, one of ethnic rebels that is fighting the Burmese regime, in its statement said that the regime had exploited the people regardless of the poverty by forcibly collecting tax that range from Kyat 400,000 to 800,000 per household annually in Chin state.


Christian Solidarity Worldwide
25 February 2008

Burmese refugees in Malaysia are living in “severe and desperate poverty and deprivation”, and face exploitation, abuse and “the widespread risk of arrest, detention, severe mistreatment including caning, and subsequent deportation by the Malaysian authorities”, according to a new report released by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) today.

CSW representatives returned last week from a fact-finding visit to Malaysia and the Thailand-Burma border with first-hand testimonies of forced labour, rape, torture, land confiscation and religious persecution. The delegation met Burmese refugees from several ethnic groups in Malaysia, and visited Internally Displaced People inside Burma and Karen refugees in Thailand. CSW interviewed Kachin civil society groups and Burmese Buddhist monks who had fled the regime’s crackdown on pro-democracy protests in September last year. The delegation also met with Padoh Mahn Sha Lah Phan, General Secretary of the Karen National Union (KNU), three days before he was assassinated by gunmen believed to be acting under orders from Burma’s military regime.

The report calls on the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to visit Burma “as a matter of urgency”, and echoes calls made by nine Nobel Peace Prize Recipients last week for a universal arms embargo on Burma. CSW also calls for the UN Security Council to refer the Burmese junta to the International Criminal Court for an investigation into crimes against humanity, and urges the international community to impose targeted banking sanctions on members of the military regime.

CSW also calls on the Malaysian Government to improve the situation for Burmese refugees within their borders by stopping authorities from detaining, caning and deporting Burmese asylum-seekers and refugees, and disbanding RELA, the officially-sponsored vigilante force often used to raid refugees’ camps, homes and workplaces. CSW urges the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to register all Burmese asylum-seekers in Malaysia, in order to provide better protection for them, and calls on more countries to offer opportunities for resettlement for Burmese refugees in Malaysia.

CSW’s Advocacy Officer for South Asia, Benedict Rogers, said: “This report documents yet more evidence of the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the military regime in Burma against its own people. It also draws much-needed attention to the long-forgotten desperate plight of Burmese refugees who have fled to Malaysia in search of sanctuary and freedom, and have found yet more abuse, poverty and misery. The international community cannot continue to allow the terrible suffering of Burmese people to go on. How many more cries for help do we need before the world unites in meaningful action to end the reign of terror in Burma?”

U.S. sanctions "Godfather of Heroin"

Mizzima News
February 26, 2008

In the latest sanctions directed at the economic assets of Burma's junta, the United States has targeted former drug kingpin Lo Hsing-Han and his family.

Lo's corporation Asia World Co. Ltd., now under the operational command of his son Steven Law, whom U.S. President Bush labels a "regime crony," is known to construct highways, ports and other government infrastructure throughout Burma.

"As one element of our policy to promote a genuine democratic transition, the US maintains targeted sanctions that focus on the assets of regime members and their cronies who grow rich while Burma's people suffer under their misrule," according to a White House statement released yesterday.

It's widely held that the Burmese regime assisted in transforming Lo's former drug empire into a robust corporation during the 1990s, in an attempt to appear to be combating narcotics while shoring up its own internal security.

Law's wife, Singaporean native Cecilia Ng, and ten companies based in the Lion City are also listed as coming under the fire of the U.S. Treasury Department, the arm of the government responsible for leveraging the economic sanctions, which freeze assets and prohibit American companies to engage in business ventures with those listed.

This most recent ratcheting up of pressure on the junta's economic interests also takes further aim at Burmese tycoon Tay Za, who has already had several of his business interests targeted by the Bush Administration. Now his Aureum Palace Hotels and Resorts along with Myanmar Treasure Resorts are additionally subject to financial constraints.

Regime continues its assault on the Mon Cultural Museum in Moulmein

The Burmese regime has modified statutes in front of the Mon Cultural Museum in Moulmein to hide their traditional Mon dress. Originally, the statues were painted to look as if they were wearing red and white Mon national dress; they are now painted completely white.

The move comes after the regime changed the name from the “Mon Cultural Museum,” to the “Literature and Cultural Museum of the Burmese Cultural Ministry.” The museum exhibits Mon artefacts including traditional Mon dress, palm-leaf scripts, musical instruments and furniture.

Mon manuscripts written on palm-leaves are stored on the first floor, which has now been closed to the public. The texts are vital to people researching Mon history and literature, and Mon historians worry they will be destroyed by the regime, said a monk in Moulmein.

According to Mon political analysts, the regime fears a strong and unified Mon culture will encourage the group to seek independence, as the group did in 1948. Mon language studies have been banned in regime schools, Mon libraries forcibly closed and communities targeted for repression.

Destruction of more farmland by Burma Army
Kaowao: February 28, 2008

Yaen Dein village, Mon State – The Burmese army has destroyed by fire garden farms and orchards owned by Mon villagers in southern Ye after accusing them of sheltering Mon armed guerrillas.

Junta seeks recourse to softer approaches for election

For many decades, Burmese military junta have been trying numerous attempts to pressure the ceasefire groups to disarm or surrender and now as it is approaching to National election time, they are changing to a new tactic by using softer approaches and persuading the groups to form political parties.

"This is another strategy of the junta to make ceasefire groups to surrender by saying that 'we won't force you to disarm, it is your own choice'. But, I think after forming the political parties, the junta then will say that 'it is against the law to have armed political parties'. And it will then put them under difficult situation", said Khu Rihmond Htoo, the General Secretary of Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) in a recent interview conducted by S.H.A.N.

[The Rohingya are a minority Muslim ethnic group that suffers great discrimination in Northern Rakhine State, Western Burma Natala are new settler villages often built on confiscated land. The present ruling military junta successfully emptied Rohingyas from some of the townships in southern Arakan by driving them to the north of Arakan. Their aim is to reduce the Rohingya population where Rohingya people are majority by implementing model villages.]

Natala villagers turn gangsters in Northern Arakan

The Natala villagers are doing what ever they want, emboldened by the concerned authorities who give them all the facility and protection to become gangsters in Northern Arakan.

A clash occurred between Natala (model) villagers and Rohingyas at around 8 am on December 20, after five Natala youths burnt haystacks of Rohingyas kept as cattle fodder and when asked by Rohingya, the Natala villagers went back to their village and come back with other Natala villagers to attack the Rohingya villagers with spears, knives and catapults. The Rohingya villagers also threw stones at Natala villagers and a clash broke out.

Some of Rohingya complained and informed the authorities and a section of policemen went to the spot and arrested 50- Rohingya people and brought them to the police station and detained them. But, the police took not action against the Natala villagers.

The body of Issaque (32) was found with wounds inflicted in his abdomen by a dragger near Aung Mangala Natala village under the Burma border security forces, or Nasaka Headquarters of Maungdaw Township on January 22 night.

Issaque had complained to the police officer Hla Pey of Aung Mangla police station that one of his goats was taken away and killed by Natala villagers on January 22 morning. The police officer went to the Natala village and warned the villagers.

Before 1992, "model villages" were built in Arakan State , mainly in Maungdaw, Buthidaung Townships. The building of model villages reportedly intensified after the formation of Nasaka in 1992. In practice, the Nasaka is responsible for implementing the model village program in Arakan State . The large majority of model village have been built on the land that was confiscated from the Rohingya community and most of the Natala villages are situated between two Rohingya local villages or near by.

Twelve sentenced to seven years in jail for renovation of mosque

Maungdaw, Arakan State: Twelve villagers of Thinn Baw Gwe (Kol Loon) in Maungdaw Township have been sentenced to seven years in jail by the Maungdaw High Court on February 24 for renovation of a mosque and Hafez Khana (Quaran memorial center), said a close relative of one of the victims on condition of anonymity.

The villagers had renovated the village mosque and Hafez Khana after acquiring necessary documents and permission from the Commander of Nasaka area No. 8 of Maungdaw Township , three months ago.

But, the Commander was transferred and a new Nasaka Commander was appointed to Nasaka area No.8, recently. The new Commander was not happy with the renovation of mosque and Hafez Khana.

In Arakan State, one cannot renovate mosques, religious schools, houses even cow sheds without taking permission from concerned authorities. This is valid for only the Rohingya community.

HR Group Urges Samak to Investigate Mahn Sha Murder

Thailand-based human rights organization Forum Asia has urged the new Thai prime minister, Samak Sundaravej, to conduct an in-depth investigation into the assassination of Mahn Sha, former secretary general of the Karen National Union (KNU).

In the open letter to the Thai prime minister, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia) said that the killing of the key Karen political leader has created fear and uncertainty among pro-democracy groups stationed at the Thai-Burmese border.

Sittwe Villagers Forced to Welcome Battalion

Sittwe: Burmese military authorities ordered villagers in Sittwe to participate in a welcome reception for a battalion that will be returning there to its base from the western frontlines today, reports a government teacher.

He said, "The army authority ordered us to send 100 students from our school to the reception ceremony today and the authority is now preparing to welcome the battalion in front of the battalion's base."

For the ceremony, the authority needs members of the public to attend the reception ceremony in order to publicize the event around Burma, so the government high school in Kyama Thouk has been ordered to send 100 students to the ceremony.

"The authority's order is not just for students, but also for villagers, mostly young girls, to attend the ceremony with flowers and wreaths to receive the soldiers during the ceremony," said one villager from Kyama Thouk.

The Burmese army killed many monks and civilians during the public demonstrations of the Saffron Revolution, which caused Burmese people around the country to feel deeply hurt and betrayed by the Burmese military government.

Intrigue and illness in Myanmar's junta

BANGKOK - This month's surprise announcement in Myanmar of a planned national referendum on a new constitution in May and multi-party democratic elections by 2010 are all part of Senior General Than Shwe's game plan to hold onto power and ensure his family's interests are secured. The question now is whether or not the junta leader's health will hold out that long.

The announcement notably came after months of inertia inside the military hierarchy, as the 75-year-old Than Shwe was apparently hobbled by cardiac surgery and transfixed with efforts to keep in check his deputy and rival, Maung Aye. The junta's second-ranking official woke to hear the announcement on state radio and was not informed beforehand of the timetable for implementing the supposed democratic reforms, according to government sources in the capital Naypyidaw.

There's total inertia in [the capital] Naypyidaw. No one dares make a decision, even in regard to the smallest matters without approval from the top, which is rarely forthcoming," a senior government official recently confided to a Western diplomat who spoke with Asia Times Online.

That is largely because until now Than Shwe has been preoccupied with personal concerns, including how to maintain power despite his declining health and how to ensure the dominant position of his family once he eventually passes.

"Than Shwe continues to follow his trusted approach - divide and rule," according to Win Min. "He did this successfully before, preserving his position by pitting Maung Aye against the then-military intelligence chief Khin Nyunt." Nyunt was ousted in a 2004 internal purge.

Divide and misrule
This time Than Shwe's "divide-and-rule" policy is becoming ever more intricate and difficult to hold together. "Than Shwe has developed a chessboard of counterbalancing influences, both inside the cabinet and the military hierarchy, to maintain an equilibrium that keeps Thura Shwe Mann in check and Maung Aye sidelined," a senior military source told Asia Times Online.

Burmese delegation likely to attend Indian Trade Fair

Organisers of Industries and Trade Fair Association of Assam (ITFAA) in India's northeast said they are hopeful that Burmese delegates and companies will participate in the 15th International Guwahati Trade Fair to be held from February 29 to March 11.

Rajeev Das secretary of ITFAA told Mizzima that invitations have been sent out to Burma, which had participated in earlier fairs, to take part in the trade fair to be held at the Assam Engineering Institute Ground, Chandmari, Guwahati.

"Multi national companies are going to participate and it is the biggest and oldest trade affair of India or north east India," said Das, expressing his hope that a Burmese delegation will also take part, as they had done in 2007.

"We have sent invitations to the Burmese government to send a delegation but they have not confirmed yet," Das added.

Das said, for four consecutive years Burmese delegates have taken part in the trade fair, and recounted last year's participation as saying, "Last year a big delegation from Myanmar [Burma] visited the 14th trade affair."

Besides Burma, delegates from Thailand, UAE, Czech Republic, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Turkey will join Indian traders in the fair and show case their products, Das added.

In 2007, a 31-member Burmese delegation attended the trade fair and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Assam and Manipur states of India for better trade relationship.


[1] Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s democracy leader, has said that “Total is the biggest supporter of the military regime in Burma.” For more information about Total Oil's investment in Burma see the Burma Campaign UK website:

[2] The World Health Organization's ranking
of the world's health systems:

[3] Burma joins Somalia in 179th place as the most corrupt countries in the world according to Transparency International 2007 index rankings:

[4] Human Rights Watch report on Child Soldiers in Burma: