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Chevron Turns its Back to Human Rights Crisis in Burma

Chevron Turns its Back to Human Rights Crisis in Burma

"There's no question that the money from the pipeline project helps prop up the military government... If Chevron can stop people from getting killed by using its influence, we'd certainly like to see that. In the long run, we don't think anyone should be doing business with this government."
- Marco Simons of EarthRights International

October 19, 2007 —

The brutal repression of pro-democracy protesters in Burma has recently brought the human rights crisis in the country into the media spotlight. But though most U.S. companies have been banned from doing business there, Chevron continues to help fund the military dictatorship with royalties generated from a natural gas interest it maintains in the country. Human Rights Watch and EarthRights International have called for the California-based company to either cease operations in Burma immediately or apply its influence to force the government to stop the killing. Nyunt Than, president of the Burmese American Democratic Alliance, says a pullout from the project "would cut hundreds of millions of dollars from this military. It would create great pressure on them to come to the table."

Chevron has released a statement defending their involvement:

"Chevron supports the calls for a peaceful resolution to the current situation in Myanmar in a way that respects the human rights of the people of Myanmar. Chevron's minority, non-operated interest in the Yadana Project is a long term commitment that will help meet the critical energy needs of millions of people in the region. Our community development programs also help improve the lives of the people they touch and thereby communicate our values, including respect for human rights."

It's not the first time Chevron's foreign interests have run afoul with human rights advocates. The company came under fire in Nigeria after it was alleged that soldiers on its payroll set fire to villages and killed four people. Numerous environmental scandals also litter the company's record.

But for the Burmese people the only time that matters is now, and Chevron's support would come as a welcome supplement to international pressures which have so far failed to stop the violence. If Chevron truly "respects human rights," it needs to do everything it can now to stabilize one of the most turbulent human rights situations in the world today.

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