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news - Oil Majors Propping Up Burma Regime: Rights Group

september 10th, 2009

"Energy giants Total and Chevron are propping up Burma's junta with a gas project that has allowed the regime to stash nearly five billion dollars in Singaporean banks, a rights group said Thursday.

France's Total and US-based Chevron have also tried to whitewash alleged rights abuses by Burma troops guarding the pipeline, including forced labor and killings, two reports by US-based EarthRights International said.

The group urged the international community to exert pressure on the two companies, which have long managed to avoid Western sanctions against the generals who rule the impoverished Southeast Asian nation.

'Total and Chevron's Yadana gas project has generated 4.83 billion dollars for the Burmese regime,' one of the reports said, adding that the figures for the period 2000-2008 were the first ever detailed account of the revenues.

'The military elite are hiding billions of dollars of the peoples' revenue in Singapore while the country needlessly suffers under the lowest social spending in Asia,' said Matthew Smith, a principal author of the reports.

The junta had kept the revenues off the national budget and stashed almost all of the money offshore with Singapore's Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) and DBS Group (DBS), the watchdog said.

'The revenue from this pipeline is the regime's lifeline and a critical leverage point that the international community could use to support the people of Burma,' added Smith, the group's coordinator for the country."

MORE: "Oil majors propping up Burma regime: rights group" (AFP)

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