Monday, October 22, 2007

Burma Protest

Saturday's protest outside the TOTAL Petrol station on the corner of Whitefoot lane and Verdant Lane went very well, with about 30 other protestors, mostly from the Burmese community but also including a few local people. It was a loud and lively demo, which attracted considerable interest from passers-by. We handed out lots of flyers about the campaign and local people were generally warmly supportive.

TOTAL is still one of the biggest foreign investors in Burma, and the money the military dictatorship get from their joint venture deal with TOTAL (approximately $480m/year) arguably helps to keep them in power. As I mentioned in my previous post, Lewisham Council’s Pension Fund has nearly £4m in TOTAL Oil. As a member of the Pensions Investment Committee, I will be wanting the fund managers to explain at the next meeting exactly what dialogue they have had with TOTAL’s management about their ongoing involvement in Burma, and whether our continued investment in the company is really in keeping with our socially responsible investment policy. We have a policy of 'engagement' with companies on issues of concern, rather than simply boycotting them, but companies need to know we are serious and will disinvest if their activities are helping to fuel horrendous human rights abuses.

Photographers from both the local papers turned up, so hopefully there will be some coverage of the protest this week. It was also reported on Indymedia and the TOTAL out of Burma blog.

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