Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chevrons Actions Ugly Capitalism

Wanna hear a pulp hypocrisy story? Bush Administration comdemned the violent crackdown in Burma. Not only George W. Bush and the First Lady, but also Condoleezza Rice made very “strong” statements against the junta’s latest actions in Yangon. Now, let’s recall who on earth has been the biggest supporter of the Burmese regime? Clue: A multinational oil corp. Amy Goodman helps our memory in her article on Truthdig. Let’s read on about multinationals, globalism, neocons, Chevron and slave labor:
The Bush administration is making headlines with its strong language against the Burmese regime. President Bush declared increased sanctions in his U.N. General Assembly speech. First lady Laura Bush has come out with perhaps the strongest statements. Explaining that she has a cousin who is a Burma activist, Laura Bush said, “The deplorable acts of violence being perpetrated against Buddhist monks and peaceful Burmese demonstrators shame the military regime.”Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, at the meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said, “The United States is determined to keep an international focus on the travesty that is taking place.” Keeping an international focus is essential, but should not distract from one of the most powerful supporters of the junta, one that is much closer to home. Rice knows it well: Chevron.Fueling the military junta that has ruled for decades are Burma’s natural gas reserves, controlled by the Burmese regime in partnership with the U.S. multinational oil giant Chevron, the French oil company Total and a Thai oil firm. Offshore natural gas facilities deliver their extracted gas to Thailand through Burma’s Yadana pipeline. The pipeline was built with slave labor, forced into servitude by the Burmese military.Rice served on the Chevron board of directors for a decade. She even had a Chevron oil tanker named after her. While she served on the board, Chevron was sued for involvement in the killing of nonviolent protesters in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Like the Burmese, Nigerians suffer political repression and pollution where oil and gas are extracted and they live in dire poverty. The protests in Burma were actually triggered by a government-imposed increase in fuel prices.

Goodman writes about the “lifeline of the Burmese regime”. Recommended for refreshing memories and diagnosing the hypocrisy of the neocons. Oil companies have all the blood stains of the innocent people on their hands. As usual.

Burma: a brief political history
A chronology of Burma's constitutional affairs since its independence.

- July 1947:General Aung San, Suu Kyi's father and the architect of Burma's independence from Britain, is assassinated in Rangoon along with six members of his pre-independence cabinet.
- Jan 1948: The Union of Burma declares independence, with a new charter establishing a bicameral parliament.
- March 1962: General Ne Win launches a military coup, discarding the constitution and setting up a Revolutionary Council of military leaders who rule by decree.
- March 1974: A new constitution transfers power from the armed forces to a People's Assembly of former military leaders headed by Ne Win. It allows for a unicameral legislature and one legal political party. Ne Win becomes president.
- 1988: Ne Win resigns and decades of economic strife and ethnic tensions boil over into riots. The military takes power under the name the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), annuling the constitution.
- May 1990: The National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi wins 392 of 485 seats in the first multi-party general election since 1960.
- June 1990: SLORC chief Saw Maung rules out a quick transfer of power, saying a new constitution is needed first.
- 1991: Suu Kyi is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, while under house arrest.
- 1992: General Than Shwe becomes head of the junta and prime minister and plans for a new constitution are announced.
- Jan 1993: A National Convention on a new constitution is abruptly adjourned, after delegates oppose a clause stating the military must have the leading political role.
- Nov 1995: Convention reconvenes. NLD pulls out, saying the process does not represent the will of the people.
- June 1996: The government hints the NLD may be outlawed, Suu Kyi says her party plans to draft a separate constitution.
- June 1996: A new law declares the unauthorised drafting of a constitution is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
- July 1997: Burma's foreign minister says a new constitution is being finalised, a week after the country joins the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
- Nov 1997: SLORC changes its name to the State Peace and Development Council. The 19-member SPDC includes former SLORC chairman Than Shwe and intelligence chief Khin Nyunt.
- Aug 2003: Prime minister Khin Nyunt announces a "roadmap to democracy", but gives no firm timetable.
- May 2004: National Convention reconvenes without the NLD, which boycotts talks while Suu Kyi is under house arrest. Convention adjourns for monsoon break.
- Feb 2005: Convention resumes with Suu Kyi still under house arrest. Talks end in January 2006 with no clear progress.
- Oct 2006: Talks resume, NLD boycotts, talks adjourn in late December.
- July 2007: Convention reopens for the last time.
- Sept 2007: Convention completes work after 14 years working out the broad outline of a "disciplined" democracy.
- Oct 2007: Junta appoints 54-member commission, mostly military officers and civil servants, to draft constitution.
- Aug-Sept, 2007: Monks lead mass demonstrations in cities across Burma to demand that the government lower fuel costs and release political activists.
The protests last more than 10 days before the soldiers turned violent, beating and shooting the monks and their civilian supporters.
Hundreds are feared to have been killed, although the military junta says only 13 people died.
- Feb 2008: Junta announces referendum on new constitution in May, followed by multi-party elections in 2010.
- April 2008 - Government publishes proposed new constitution, which allocates a quarter of seats in parliament to the military and bans Suu Kyi from holding office.
Cyclone hits
- May 2008: Cyclone Nargis hits the Irrawaddy delta. Some estimates number 138,000 people left dead or missing by the cyclone. Referendum proceeds amid humanitarian crisis following cyclone.
Government says 92 per cent voted in favour of draft constitution and insists it can cope with cyclone aftermath without international aid.
Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest is renewed.
- Jan 2009: Thailand expels hundreds of members of Burma's Muslim Rohingya minority who appeared off its coast. Burma denies the minority's existence.
- April 2009: NLD offers to take part in planned elections if the government frees all political prisoners, changes the constitution and allows in international observers.
- May 2009: Burma's new constitution is confirmed and enacted.
- Aug 2009: Suu Kyi sentenced to 18 months under house arrest (reduced from three years in jail) and American man John Yettaw sentenced to seven years of hard labour.
The European Union said it would toughen its sanctions against Myanmar after Tuesday's latest conviction of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and France and Britain called for global arms and economic embargoes.

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