Burma: Systematic Rape/Murder and That Chevron Ad

Riddle me this: Why is the largest “progressive” blog in the world advertising Chevron, an undeniable culprit in the state sponsored torture, rape and murder of innocent Burmese women and children? And before you say the all too familiar phrase “because its his blog and he can do what he wants” please join me below:

It more than the Monks who have been targeted for murder in Burma:

According to a recently published report, an alliance of NGO’s has accussed the Burmese ruling jaunta and military of stepping up its oppression of ethnic minorities through a systematic campaign of torture, rape and arbitrary killing.

From the Christian Science Moniter October 23rd:
The Internal Displacement in Eastern Burma Survey, released Monday by the U.K.-based Thailand Burma Border Consortium (TBBC), details the eradication of 167 Burmese villages and the forced internal displacement of around 76,000 people between January and September 2007.

That the regime uses state sponsored rape and torture is well known. Lesser known is the the dramatic increase in the jaunta’s war against the people who live in the ethnic minority Karen State.

“This report confirms once more that Burma’s military junta is prepared to use all means necessary in its large-scale and bloody war against Burma’s minorities,” said Atle Sommerfeldt, general secretary of Norwegian Church Aid, on Monday at a seminar in Oslo to launch the report .

Norwegian Church Aid, a partner organization of the TBBC, believes that as many as half a million people are currently displaced and said the worst affected area was Karen State, where at least 38 people have been murdered in the Thanduang province in 2007 alone.

Why? The answer is as simple as it is devasting: Chevron and The Yadana Pipeline

The Yadana Gas Pipeline Project represents the single largest foreign investment project in Burma. Ignoring democratically expressed calls for a moratorium on international investment in Burma, transnational oil companies Unocal (US) and Total (France) have chosen to invest in a regime with one of the most deplorable human rights and environmental records in the world. (Chevron bought out Unocal in 2005)

Even worse, the companies have contracted with the Burmese military regime to provide security for the Yadana project. Thus, the Burmese army has engaged in a pattern of systematic human rights abuses and environmental degradation as it seeks to fulfill its contractual responsibilities to Unocal and Total.


The result of The Burmese Army’s protection of the pipeline has resulted in tremendous suppression of the ethnic minorities surrounding Yadana, in particular the people of Karen:

Forced labor and systematic rape and murder is targeted particularly at the ethnic minorities living in the border regions such as Karen, Mon, Shan, and Karenni. According to The International Committee of the Red Cross there are over ninety forced  labor camps in the country.

The military’s systemic use of sexual violence against women and girls has dramatically escalated in recent years, especially in dissident ethnic areas like Karen.. Oftentimes soldiers will marry a woman after raping her to ensure she bares a child in a form of ethnic cleansing reminicent of Nazi Germany.

Myanmar has the largest number of child soldiers in the world and the number is growing. Human Rights Watch said there were about seventy thousand child soldiers as of 2002, most of them forcibly recruited by the country’s army from area like Karen.

The Chevron and Total Pipeline is directly responsible for the torture, rape and murder of tens of thousands of innocent ethnic minority groups that live in rural areas surrounding the Yadana Pipeline:

According to a  2002 report from Earthrights International entitled We Are Not Free To Work For Ouselves confirms that security forces for the Yadana and Yetagun pipelines continue to conscript civilians for forced labor: 
Excerpts from the report include:

“One time, a porter named [redacted] could not carry his load because his foot was sore and swollen. A soldier got a stick and beat him with it. Another porter named [redacted] was exhausted and sick from diarrhea; he fell down on the ground. The soldier beat him and ordered him to stand up. When he got up, he fell back down again. Then [an officer] beat him again. The military left him . . . When we arrived at the next destination, one of the corporals said that [he] had died.”
“The military raped [my cousin] and also [name redacted]. The military kept them in the jungle for four or five days, and they raped [them both]. [My cousin] was separated from the other women. They killed her because they had already raped her, and they did not want her to say anything. After four or five days, the other women were taken into town, and they got a message to her relatives that they should go to the jungle to try to find her. Our relatives found [my cousin’s] body in the jungle.”


So again I pose the same question that I began with:

Why is The Daily Kos supporting this activity (and it is) through accepting advertising dollars from Chevron and as importantly, what is this saying about
the netroots community that it is not demanding a stop to it?

I am just getting used to the requirements (linking etc) for posting diaries here so forgive me for not making this one as internet friendly as it should be.


Skip to comment form

  1. I think it is a great reminder of how complicit we are in all of this.

    We all use oil.

    But then I am in a cranky mood today, so…

  2. Why did the Ewoks use the tools of the Empire against it?

    Why does al Qaeda use the tools of our own western empire in its battle against us?

  3. … not to take anything away from Chevron’s egregious behavior, I don’t think it is accurate to say Chevron is the only reason for the brutality that is going on in Burma.

    Before that it was the jade mines — workers were brutally treated (and often hooked on heroin provided by state run shooting galleries, using dirty needles, running up a high AIDs rate), and even now gemstones are a business exploited by the junta.

    I have read recently that Cartier has refused to buy gems from Burma.  That’s a good thing.

    There are many reasons for the horrible situation in Burma, so I think it’s simplistic to say it’s only about gas.  Burma’s history is a bloody one — exploited first by China, then Great Britain and now its own home grown tyrants.

    As far as the Chevron ad at dKos, I am not particularly outraged by it.  Markos makes his own policy when it comes to ads, and separates editorial content from advertising content, as does, say, the Nation.

    I don’t see what the harm is here.  One poster here said folks could see the ad there and decide, “oh, Chevron is a liberal corporation, so I can be happy buying my gas there!”  I find that highly unlikely.

    If you want to promote boycotting Chevron, I think that might be useful — and I don’t think there would be any problem posting a diary on that at Daily Kos — Meteor Blades did a front page piece on it himself.

    And what exactly would be the benefit of not having the ad?  I am asking that sincerely.  How would that affect Chevron?  I don’t buy the notion that if all progressive blogs refused any ads from Chevron that it would make them change their ways.  A boycott might, if you got enough people to join in.

    I am not supporting or rejecting the ad.  I just don’t think it is the main thing or even an important thing to focus on when it comes to the problems in Burma.  I do see that a lot of folks who I greatly respect find it offensive.  But I’m not one of them.

  4. Why aren’t Americans calling for sanctions against the Bush regime and the United States to stop their military expansionism and wars of aggression?

    • Turkana on October 25, 2007 at 22:10

    that chenvron’s paying markos, and that most kossacks are smart enough to not be fooled by oil company ads. furthermore, meteor blades- the most respected dk front pager, and one of the most respected writers in the blogosphere- even did a fp story about protesting chevron. so, accepting chevron’s money hasn’t had any effect on dk’s policies, and it could even be said chevron is paying for criticism of itself.

  5. is what prompted me to write this essay. If you are not familiar with:


    its an amazing organization fighting for women’s rights all over the world and particularly in poverty stricken areas. From their site:

    Economic Security
    Women perform two-thirds of all labor and produce more than half of the world’s food. Yet, women own only about one percent of the world’s assets, and represent 70 percent of those living in absolute poverty. We support efforts that increase women’s ability to contribute to and benefit from economic growth and development. 

    Violence Against Women
    The abuse of women and girls is endemic in most societies around the world. One in three women will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise violated in her lifetime. Rape as a weapon of war is a feature of conflicts from Sudan to Iraq. We support programs that offer immediate services to victims of violence, raise awareness about their rights and advocate for an end to all forms of violence

    Violence against women is dramatically on the rise and is not something we often address when talking about Iraq or Iran – only two of the many countries where women’s rights have slidden backwards. Burma is but one example of the atrocities being committed every single day. Chevron but one of the multi-conglamorates helping. My real question, for myself and others, what are we – the netroots community – doing to help stop it. I must admit I still read The Kos avidly but when I see that Chevron ad my heart breaks and I find myself increasingly intolerant of it if only to speak for the women of the world who cannot speak for themselves. Markos – in the name of women suffering all over the world – take down that ad and donate all of the proceeds to organizations like the Global Fund.


    It just opened – and has limited distribution but the website is very haunting as it is interesting – check it out

Comments have been disabled.