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Southfields Get Total Oil Out of Burma Protest

Awyame | 26.05.2008 19:39 | Anti-militarism | Repression | Social Struggles | London

Six protesters demonstrated at the Southfields Total Station, 262 Wimbledon Park Road on 21st May 2008. They were protesting against the French oil and gas giant's 500 million dollar a year funding for the brutal military regime in Burma. The money just goes to the evil junta not the poor people of Burma. The regime has allocated just 5 million dollars to cyclone relief, whilst it earned 2 billion dollars in gas exports in 2007.

Southfields Total Sation
Southfields Total Sation

Southfields Total Sation
Southfields Total Sation

Southfields Total Sation
Southfields Total Sation

Southfields Total Sation
Southfields Total Sation

Earlier 33 Cavendish Square Protest at Total HQ
Earlier 33 Cavendish Square Protest at Total HQ

As well as giving out leaflets about French Total Oil's fuelling of oppression in Burma, the protesters also gave out information on how to donate to the charities assisting cyclone relief in Burma (see donation section below). Approximately 140,000 people are estimated to have died in the recent cyclone and up to 2.4 million people are at continued risk.

The brutal junta has been preoccupied with rigging its military constitution referendum held on May 10th and on May 24th in the cyclone disaster area, whilst blocking international attempts to aid the cyclone victims. Now that the sham referendum has been completed there are hopes that greater access might be given to aid workers in the disaster hit areas.

Over the weekend UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, travelled to Burma and was told that aid workers would be allowed into the country. UN officials are saying that visas for aid workers are becoming more available. On Sunday, international donors pledged nearly $100m (£50m) to help relief work. The amount was only a fraction of the $11bn sought by the Burmese government. Western donors, including Britain have said that the money is contingent on Burma's generals keeping their promise to give foreign aid-workers greater access to the delta. Britain is to send in 11 flights to the region with help for homeless families.

Burma is still unwilling to accept aid from foreign naval vessels waiting off its coast and is only willing to accept supplies from civilian boats. The US, UK and France have had ships offshore for over a week with helicopters and hovercrafts that could have provided massive relief aid to difficult to reach areas. France said Sunday it would unload the 1,000 tons of aid on its ship, the Mistral, in Phuket, Thailand, that had been waiting to unload in Burma. The aid, which amounts to 30 planeloads of supplies, would then be taken to Myanmar by the World Food Program and distributed by non-governmental organizations. The French government said it is “particularly shocked” by the refusal to accept the aid directly, but believes in the “responsibility to protect” the needy.

The U.N. has estimated that of the 2.4 million people affected by the storm, about 42 percent had received some kind of emergency assistance. But of the 2 million people living in the 15 worst-affected townships, only 23 percent had been reached. Burmese Prime Minister Gen Thein Sein said last Thursday that the first phase of bringing relief to the victims of the cyclone had been completed and the second phase, reconstruction, was now beginning. The junta has been awarding lucrative reconstruction contracts to its cronies. Private Burmese donors driving to the disaster area from Rangoon are stopped at junta checkpoints and are given yellow slips saying the relief effort has finished and the time has come to work on reconstruction. They also urge people not to throw any handouts to those waiting beside the roads because they are "just begging".

Sunday's international donor conference was in sight of the home of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winning opposition leader kept under house arrest for 12 years by the military. The opposition National League for Democracy has renewed calls for her release. Her house arrest is due to expire this week, although the military rulers have previously extended the detention period a number of times. Under Myanmar law, no one can be held longer than five years without being released or put on trial.

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].


[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:
2008 Child Soldiers Global Report names Burma as the most persistent user of child soldiers, with thousands in its armed forces - some as young as 11.


For more information on Total Oil and Burma go to

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

Get TOTAL OIL out of Burma group on Facebook:


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

Wednesday May 28th

Meet at Burma Embassy for normal daily Burmese protest
12:00-1pm Wednesday May 28th
Myanmar/Burma Embassy 19A, Charles St, London W1J 5DX.
Tube: Green Park | Map:

Total London HQ, 33 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0PW
1:30-3:00pm Wednesday May 28th
Tube: Oxford Circus | Map:

Saturday 31st May

Chiswick Total petrol station
2.00pm - 5.00pm Saturday 31st May
Protest at West Four Total petrol station, 137 Chiswick High Road, Chiswick W4 2ED
Tube: Turnham Green Map:

Wednesday 4th June

Meet at Burma Embassy for normal daily Burmese protest
12:00-1pm Wednesday 4th June
Myanmar/Burma Embassy 19A, Charles St, London W1J 5DX.
Tube: Green Park | Map:

Total London HQ, 33 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0PW
1:30-3:00pm Wednesday 4th June
Tube: Oxford Circus | Map:

Saturday 7th June

Chiswick Total petrol station
2.00pm - 5.00pm Saturday 7th June
Protest at West Four Total petrol station, 137 Chiswick High Road, Chiswick W4 2ED
Tube: Turnham Green Map:

Wednesday 11th June

Meet at Burma Embassy for normal daily Burmese protest
12:00-1pm Wednesday 11th June
Myanmar/Burma Embassy 19A, Charles St, London W1J 5DX.
Tube: Green Park | Map:

Total London HQ, 33 Cavendish Square, London W1G 0PW
1:30-3:00pm Wednesday 11th June
Tube: Oxford Circus | Map:


Burma Campaign UK has a web page on the crisis, with donation links to
major charities helping victims of the cyclone eg.
Christian Aid, Oxfam, The Red Cross, Islamic Relief and CAFOD.

* Donate online : Myanmar (Burma).
* Send a Cheque made payable to 'DEC Myanmar Cyclone' to:
DEC Myanmar (Burma) Cyclone Appeal, PO BOX 232, Melksham, SN12 6WF
* Go to any High Street Bank or Post Office quoting Freepay number: 1643
* Call the automated donation line 0870 60 60 900 (24 hours a day)


Make sure you've signed:

- Email China to ask them to stop blocking UN action on Burma Cyclone Action (Email campaign launched 13th May 2008).
- Urge immediate medical care for Min Ko Naing (Email campaign launched 29th April 2008)
- "Free Burma's Political Prisoners Now!" petition (global campaign launched 13 March 2008)
- The Burma Campaign UK e-action to TOTAL:
- The global pledge:
- Don't Forget Burma - send a photo message to the regime:

30 Days (in May 2008) for a million voices: Burma Can't Wait
Millions Rallied to Free Nelson Mandela and South Africa. Now it's Burma's Turn
Hollywood Stars Team up with the Human Rights Action Center to Launch Campaign on Behalf of the People of Burma
Will Ferrell, Anjelica Huston, Jennifer Aniston, Ellen Page, Judd Apatow, Mana, Sylvester Stallone, Eric Szmanda, Sarah Silverman Part of 30-Day Call-to-Action to Free Imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Recipient Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Burma.


Concern Growing That Regime Is Blocking Cyclone Aid To Ethnic Karen
22 May 2008

The Burma Campaign UK today called on United Nations, and development
agencies operating in Burma, to investigate whether cyclone aid is being
blocked to ethnic Karen. The Burma Campaign UK is concerned about consistent
reports of aid being blocked to areas with predominantly Karen farms and

Ethnic Karen are believed to make up around half of the delta population,
and an even higher proportion in rural areas. Most of what little aid the
regime has allowed into the delta region has gone to townships. Access to
many rural areas mainly populated by Karen is blocked.

“The military dictatorship already uses the denial of aid as part of its
ethnic cleansing policy against Karen in Eastern Burma,” said Zoya Phan,
International Coordinator of the Burma Campaign UK. “Now they are killing
thousands more Karen in the delta by denying them aid. The fact that they
are Karen could be a factor in blocking aid, and this must be investigated
by the UN.”

The Karen have faced oppression from central government for the past 60
years. In Karen State the United Nations has accused the regime of breaking
the Geneva Convention by deliberately targeting civilians. The regime has
destroyed thousands of villages, uses rape as a weapon of war, and thousands
of people as slave labour, with more than half a million people being
internally displaced. Many receive no aid because the regime refuses access
to the UN and aid agencies.

The Burma Campaign UK has also received unconfirmed reports of Burmans being
prioritised over Karen in refugee camps. Many foreign aid workers may not be
aware of the ethnic issue, and the Burma Campaign UK is calling on the UN
and aid agencies to ensure staff are aware of potential problems, and to
monitor aid distribution with this in mind.

It is not only international aid workers that have been banned from some
rural parts of the delta. Karen and Burmese aid workers are also being
stopped from delivering aid.

“Soldiers are turning back aid instead of helping to deliver it,” said Zoya
Phan. “Untold thousands have died and many more will die, because aid is
being blocked. I am sure that Than Shwe will be delighted that some of the
countries best farmland has been cleansed of Karen people, and is free to be
taken over by the Generals and their business cronies.”

RECENT BURMA NEWS: (see - read links for the full versions of stories)

Myanmar monks, priests beat controls to give aid

YANGON, May 25 (Reuters) - While big international donors try to persuade Myanmar's military rulers to open their doors wider to aid, small groups of volunteers are getting past army checkpoints to reach desperate survivors of Cyclone Nargis.

Among them were Catholics and Buddhists seeking to fulfil a charitable mission under extreme circumstances three weeks after the devastating storm left 2.5 million people destitute, most of them in the hardest-hit Irrawaddy delta.

On Sunday, larger than normal crowds of worshippers gathered at Myanmar's biggest Catholic cathedral to hear priests criticise the slow pace of aid "for our suffering countrymen".

"We need the world to speak out because our people are dying every minute," one priest, who asked not to be identified, said at Saint Mary's Cathedral, built in 1899.

Small groups of parishioners had been able to get past military checkpoints in recent days and visited delta fishing villages where they found starving people, he said.

Hunger trumps fear in cyclone-hit Myanmar delta

DEDAYE, Myanmar, May 26 (Reuters) - It took three weeks of waiting for help that never came for the emaciated man to overcome his innate fear of authority in a country under army rule for the last 46 years.

"I didn't care whether they got angry with me or not," the man in his late 40s said, recalling the moment he challenged officials deep in the Irrawaddy delta to release the small amount of aid left in their charge by Myanmar's military government.

"I walked up to them and said: 'We are not getting anything, and that is not good enough,'" the man said. He was too scared to give his name.

His dirty blue t-shirt, threadbare sarong and mismatched sandals spoke volumes about the hardships being endured in the delta, where the May 2 Cyclone Nargis left 134,000 people dead or missing and another 2.4 million clinging to survival.

With the junta too paranoid and too proud to accept an international aid effort comparable to the December 2004 tsunami, fewer than one in three survivors has seen any aid from the outside world, the United Nations says.

The government insists the immediate emergency relief phase of the disaster is over, but many villages still appear to have received no help at all.

The waterways of the onetime 'rice bowl of Asia' smell of death. Swarms of flies gorge on animal carcasses and corpses, either grotesquely swollen or rotting to the bone in the heat and humidity.

Two men from one small delta islet had travelled the two hours by boat to Dedaye to ask for help. In torn singlets and with teeth stained deep red from betel nut, they were desperate to tell of their plight to anyone who would listen.

Of the 250 houses in the village, Thaung Tan, six were still standing, they said -- all that is left to shelter the 1,000 or so people who survived the cyclone's 120 mph (190 kph) winds and its 12 foot (3.5 metre) wall of water.

People in nearby village said that since the cyclone struck they had just five visits from outsiders, all of whom were private donors.

Elsewhere in the delta, thousands of people now devoid of any livelihood are resorting to full-time begging beside roads.

"Just throw something," droves of children shout at passing vehicles.

With checkpoints on roads leading out of Yangon to the delta, the flow of traffic is lower than it could be -- cynics say deliberately so to dampen the enthusiasm of private donors.

Drivers are given yellow slips saying the relief effort has finished and the time has come to work on reconstruction. They also urge people not to throw any handouts to those waiting beside the roads because they are "just begging".

Police hammer home the message, shouting at the queue of waiting cars: "Go directly to where you want to go. Don't throw anything from the car. Know your own people." (Writing by Ed Cropley; Editing by Darren Schuettler and Valerie Lee)

Donors pledge $100m to Myanmar

Donors have pledged about $100m in aid for Myanmar, well short of the government request for $11bn in assistance with no strings attached.

About 50 countries, UN agencies and aid groups taking part in a conference in Yangon on Sunday also made the aid contingent on the government following through with its promise to allow foreign aid workers and assessment teams into the country.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, led calls for Myanmar to make good on the agreement to let outsiders into the country.

Three weeks after cyclone Nargis hit the Irrawaddy delta, the UN says that three in four of those most in need of aid have yet to receive any help.

About 2.4 million cyclone survivors are still short of food, water and shelter and many are at risk of dying from hunger or disease.

Ban called the conference an "important exercise for building greater trust and co-operation" between Myanmar and the outside world.

The European community, which has already pledged $72.5m, offered another $26.8m.

China boosted its pledge to $11m.

Australia promised $24m, the Philippines doubled its previous pledge to $20m, and South Korea said it would give a total of $2.5m.

In comments echoed by most nations, Ban rejected Myanmar's insistence that the emergency relief phase was over and that it was now time to focus on rebuilding the devastated areas of the Irrawaddy Delta.

"I expect the relief effort will run for several months, probably six months at least, as we feed and care for those who have lost everything," Ban said to open the meeting.

Ban is the first UN secretary-general to visit Myanmar in more than four decades.

Aid pledged

The United States said it was ready to offer more than the $20.5 million of aid sent after the May 2 cyclone.

Scot Marciel, a US envoy to south east Asia said, "However, in order to do so, the government must allow international disaster assistance experts to conduct thorough assessments of the situation."

"The United States is prepared to offer much more, and we know that we must act quickly to prevent further loss of life," Marciel said.

Rangoon civil servants have no option but to vote 'Yes'

Despite deep seated opposition to the military regime, a majority of Rangoon's civil servants said they have to vote in favour of the draft constitution of the junta.

Many civil servants have voted in advance in support of the constitution afraid of losing their jobs, said a government bank staff Daw Ngwe Win.

"I live in the country. If I don't want problems, I have to support the constitution" she said.

The referendum is slated to be held on May 24 in Rangoon and Irrawaddy divisions, where Cyclone Nargis has affected over 2.5 million people.

"According to the authorities, the regime is already on its way to democracy. The government will also offer free education for elementary students," said a teacher, Daw Tin Htar. "They said if you support the constitution then the country will benefit," she added.

"We have not seen the draft constitution," said a civil servant. I do not want to vote because if I do, I would have to vote 'yes', because I'm a civil servant," said Daw Ngwe Win.

Relief group to deliver aid for famine victims in northwest Burma

May 23, 2008 - A relief group known as Chin Famine Emergency Relief Committee (CFERC) is planning to send rice bags worth Indian Rupee 140,000 (Burmese currency around Kyat 3,780,000) for victims of near famine like situation in Chin state, Burma where people urgently need help.
Relief group to deliver aid for famine victims in northwest Burma

Villagers from Chin state, who crossed the border, arrived in Mizoram state, northeast India waiting for the help.

Bamboo flowering caused the near famine like situation and the food crisis in areas along the Indo-Burma border since last year. Bamboo flowers attract rats in hordes which multiply and destroy crops and paddy stocks in villages in Chin state. People are facing acute shortage of food.

Despite the people in affected areas in Chin state facing scarcity of food and suffering from malnutrition, the Burmese military regime has allegedly turned a blind eye and failed to solve the problem of its own starving people.

Not only has the regime neglected the people but also to make matters worse confiscated relief material provided for the victims.

"The military authorities in Paletwa Township confiscated around 300 rice bags (50 kg) that the Roman Catholic Church donated for the people in the affected areas," Terah, field coordinator of Chin Human Rights Organization said.

Too many children still need life-saving relief in Myanmar, says UNICEF welcoming government’s response to ease delivery of aid

New York, 23 May 2008 – UNICEF says that too many children still need life-saving assistance in Myanmar three weeks after powerful cyclone Nargis hit the country. The UN children’s agency welcomes the government’s promise to ease delivery of aid as some estimates put the number of affected as high as 2.5 million.

Cyclone Increases Army Looting on Burma Borders

Cyclone damage to the Irrawaddy delta, Burma's rice bowl, has caused a surge in looting in its restive border areas by poorly paid troops worried about food shortages, residents and human rights groups say.

In the northwest town of Kale, which is reliant on the faraway delta for much of its rice and salt, local residents said soldiers had stepped up seizures of rice, fish and firewood since Cyclone Nargis hit the former Burma on May 2.

In the evenings, soldiers were stopping villagers at checkpoints on their way back from the market and taking their cash, often out of fear their pay will be diverted to the cyclone-hit areas, victims and eyewitnesses said.

"The situation has turned worse after the cyclone," a former transport department officer told Reuters in the town of 300,000 people about six hours' drive from the Indian border.

"Even the army supplies are restricted and they are not sure when they will receive their salaries," he said.

Soldiers in army-ruled Burma are poorly paid—a private earns just 14,000 kyats ($12) a month—making extortion an endemic problem, especially in the border areas where various ethnic militias have waged guerrilla war for decades.

But around a dozen people interviewed in the town said the situation had become much worse in the three weeks since Nargis, which left 134,000 people dead or missing in the delta and another 2.4 million in dire need of aid.

"The military has no sympathy for the people," said a government clerk. "They have no emotion or human feelings. They behave like animals."

Next month's arrival of the monsoon rains, which makes the jungle-clad mountainous region's dirt roads impassable, is adding to fears about a shortage of staples such as rice, salt and edible oils, causing ordinary people to stock up.

Soldiers have put up check points on roads and are charging vehicles up to 100,000 kyats ($89) to pass.

"There is complete lawlessness here. Whatever the army says is the law," another resident said.

Security personnel are everywhere in the town, armed with automatic rifles and walkie-talkies.

"These are the people responsible for food shortages and price rises here," said a leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), who asked not to be named.

"Military officers are not concerned about people's welfare and they have no knowledge of civil administration. They only know how to squeeze civilians."

Debbie Stothard of Bangkok-based human rights group ALTSEAN said she had heard similar reports from eastern Shan state of military units seizing food and supplies since the cyclone.

"They've started grabbing food for themselves because they are scared there will not be enough food left," Stothard said. "It's about them wanting to make sure they have enough supplies."

In Kale, soldiers were even demanding bribes to allow food and clothes donated for cyclone victims taken to a Buddhist monastery for distribution, residents said.

Cyclone Survivors Forcibly Evicted

Thousands of homeless cyclone survivors from rural areas who sought shelter and aid in Bogalay and Mawlamyinegyun have been forcibly expelled from the towns by local government officials over the last five to six days, said sources in Rangoon and Bogalay.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy by telephone, a resident in Bogalay said, “The authorities won’t allow refugees to stay in town. They are sending them back where they came from.

“Firstly, the yayaka (Ward Peace and Development Council) sent refugees who have the ability to work to Maubin town and forced them to work as laborers—digging rocks in a quarry for as little as 1,000 kyat (US 0.88 cent) per day. But some refugees wouldn’t work and ran away,” she said.

Min Zaw, a businessman in Rangoon who visited cyclone victims in Bogalay, also said that the local authorities were urging refugees who were taking shelter on the roadsides to stay out of sight while officials and aid donors were in town.

“The yayaka drove through town and announced by loudspeaker that nobody could stay in the street,” he said. “They said that if their leaders and donors saw people living in the streets, it would hurt their dignity.”

Some refugees were detained in local police stations while others were forcibly marched out of town and left in rural areas, Min Zaw said.

Meanwhile, members of the pro-junta group, the Union Solidarity and Development Association, asked private donors not to deliver food and supplies into the hands of the refugees, telling the donors that it would make the refugees lazy and dependent on aid, said local sources.

Volunteer donors were asked to hand aid and cash donations over to local authorities instead of delivering supplies directly to the victims, added the sources.

Meanwhile, Ohn Kyaing, the spokesperson for a relief team sponsored by the opposition National League for Democracy, said that a group of refugees in Mawlamyinegyun was also forced by local authorities to return to their villages in cyclone-ravaged areas.

On arrival in Mawlamyinegyun on May 10, he estimated that thousands of refugees were seeking shelter in Mawlamyinegyun alone.

Ohn Kyaing said he also visited Bogalay and witnessed thousands of cyclone victims seeking shelter in monasteries and schools while many were forced to return to their devastated villages. He said he saw more than 4,500 refugees staying at nine monasteries in Bogalay.

Meanwhile, a total of 9,200 cyclone survivors from 84 villages in Mawlamyinegyun, who were moved to relief camps in Wakema Township in the delta, have been evicted and sent back to their native villages as part of a resettlement plan, state-run newspaper The New Light of Myanmar said on May 24.

About 30 Burmese private companies have been involved in the reconstruction process in cyclone-affected areas in the aftermath of the disaster with assignments by the regime to organize and undertake relief and resettlement work in 17 affected townships, according to a Xinhua report.

There are about 400 villages in Bogalay Township, according to local data. The UN said that 95 percent of Bogalay Township was destroyed by the storm on May 2-3.

Meanwhile, residents in Bogalay said that refugees were not receiving sufficient food and shelter from the government and nongovernmental organization, said sources. However, they added that philanthropists and private donors have continued to make donations to refugees at local monasteries and schools.

Myanmar cyclone: Burma junta tells survivors to go home

The Burmese government stood accused of fresh acts of callousness over Cyclone Nargis yesterday after claims that officials had ordered survivors to tear down temporary shelters built along roads through the disaster zone.

n the absence of proper help from their own government, tens of thousands of people rendered homeless by the storm have erected makeshift roadside huts along the raised concrete roads that run through the Irrawaddy delta. Their location means they are less at risk from further flooding, and puts them on hand for donations from any passing aid convoy.

Now, despite claims by the Burmese government that it is doing more to assist with relief efforts, aid workers say that police in the delta areas have been ordering destitute villagers to dismantle the shelters, apparently unhappy at the image which the sprawling roadside shanty towns presents to the outside world.

Occupants have been told to return to their homes in outlying areas, even though many are scared to do so for fear of another cyclone striking. "We are afraid of staying in our former villages – even the dogs are scared when the wind blows," one woman said.

The police action will underscore fears among the international community that a gulf exists between what the junta's leaders say in public and what happens on the ground.

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