Phan, a member of the ethnic Karen group which has been mercilessly persecuted by the ruling military junta, was just 14 when her village was attacked by Burmese soldiers. She fled to the jungle and lived in hiding .
"... While I was in hiding in the jungle, British businessmen were dining in Rangoon and making deals with the very men who had ordered the slaughter of my people." says Phan .
The Burmese army has been routinely accused of using rape (including that of children) as a weapon of war, as well as ethnic cleansing, extra-judicial executions and torture and imprisonment without trial. More than one million people have been displaced and 3000 villages destroyed by government troops.
The UK has more companies than any other nation on Earth trading with the regime. In total, the London-based Burma Campaign has found that 128 firms globally are trading with Burma - of those 44% are British. An example of one of the 56 British firms trading with Burma, and propping up the army generals currently smashing the nation's pro-democracy movement, is Britannic Garden Furniture (BGF).The company builds expensive accessories for Britons using Burmese teak.
Total Oil, which has offices in London, is in a joint venture with the military regime, developing an offshore gas field. It has been taken to court by six Burmese people who were allegedly used as forced labour in the preparation of Total's pipeline in Burma.
Perhaps the most high-profile firm is Rolls-Royce. Through its Singaporean subsidiary, the company has a contract to supply and service aircraft engines for at least one Burmese airline.
Among the firms are two Scottish-based companies: Aquatic from Aberdeen, and Schlumberger from Westhill in Aberdeenshire. Aquatic is a privately owned company, with offices in Burma, that provides specialist services to the oil and gas industry. Gas exports are the military dictatorship's biggest source of income.
Anna Roberts, acting director of the BurmaCampaignUK,said:
"The Burmese regime spends half its budget on the military, and just 19p per person on health and education. It relies on foreign trade to supply this income. So, companies which trade with Burma are helping support a military dictatorship which uses foreign money to buy weapons to suppress its own people."
See Socialism or Your Money Back for a socialist point of view of the present Burma situaton
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