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Wetlands Works Newsletter March 2000
Well, sorry you didn't hear from us last month, our office computer took a vacation and took all your addresses with it. But we're back, and we've been busy. Come by and visit!
Three Activists Disrupt Paine Webber Energy Conference Unocal CEO Speech Interrupted
Activists from Wetlands Activism Center and Rainforest Relief passed out flyers near the end of a presentation given by Roger Beach, Unocal CEO, at the Paine Webber Energy Conference at the Parker Meridian Hotel here on February 16.
Surreptitiously gaining access to the conference, two activists, Tim Keating of Rainforest Relief and Cindy Rosin of Wetlands Activism Center entered the conference disguised as investors. The activists were protesting Unocal's involvement in a natural gas venture with one of the world's most brutal and repressive military regimes, Burma's State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC).
SLORC has received the strongest condemnations from the US Congress, the US State Department, the European Parliament, the United Nations Human Rights Commission, the International Labor Organization, Amnesty International, and ten Nobel Peace Laureates. Foreign oil corporations provide one of the largest sources of revenue to the SLORC regime, helping them keep their reign of terror.
The gas pipeline will run undersea for 218 miles, and 41 miles across southern Burma's Tenasserim division to Thailand, and will go through a variety of ecosystems including dense tropical forest, disrupting the habitat of rare animals such as tigers, rhinos and elephants. The pipeline area is inhabited by the Karen, Mon and Tavoy peoples who have partial control of the region. This venture is currently linked to forced village relocation, the forced labor of tens of thousands of local inhabitants, and fatalities at the hands of the SLORC troops. This entire region is a war zone due to the ethnic peoples' need to defend themselves against SLORC attacks, making the region highly unstable.
Wetlands is joining activist groups around the world in working to expose Unocal's abuses of human rights and the environment, and force Unocal to join Heineken, Texaco, Arco, Apple Computer, Disney, Eastman Kodak, Hewlett-Packard, Levi-Strauss & Co., PepsiCo, and many other companies who have pulled of Burma!
After listening to Beach spout on the 'wondrous' "opportunities" presented by oil and gas discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Africa, offshore Indonesia, offshore Brazil and especially offshore Burma (being piped to Thailand) the two began handing out flyers to the Paine Webber investors.
The flyers outlined ten reasons why the Burma Yadana pipeline project should be abandoned by Unocal. They passed flyers to about 90% of the investors and then were forcibly removed. "The Paine Webber organizers were visibly shaken." said Tim Keating. "While I didn't get to see the look on Roger Beach's face, I can't imagine he was pleased."
What You Can Do!
See the Gore action alert for more information, and write a letter to Gore demanding he use his influence to get Oxy to cancel the impending drilling on U'wa land. Also write to Fidelity Investments at the address below, asking them to do the same!
C. Johnson III
Actions in Solidarity with the U'wa
Wetlands' activists have targeted both Fidelity Investments and Vice-President Al Gore recently for their involvement with Occidental Petroleum.
As part of a 25-city, 9-country day of action, Wetlands and Rainforest Relief activists rallied at Fidelity Investments on February 3, protesting both at their downtown Manhattan investment center, and joining a larger group of regional activists at their Boston headquarters. Activists are asking Fidelity to pressure Occidental Petroleum to cancel drilling on land in eastern Colombia that is sacred to the U'wa people. Fidelity controls more than 30 million shares of Occidental, representing $700 million.
Al Gore was targeted for his bloody investments on February 7, when two activists were arrested for disrupting a Linclon Center event narrated by Gore with a banner that read, "Want my vote? Save the U'wa!" On February 21, two environmental and indigenous rights activists disrupted the democratic Presidential debate at the Apollo Theater to expose Gore's investment in Occidental Petroleum. When Gore was asked a question on environmental justice, the activists rose from their seats in the Apollo balcony, interrupted Gore's response, and challenged him to intervene to stop Occidental's impending drilling on the homelands of the indigenous U'wa people in the Colombian rainforests. The debate came to a halt until the activists were forcibly removed by Secret Service agents.
The disruptions and demonstrations follow the recent deaths of three U'wa children and disappearance of 15 others during a brutal police and military raid of a nonviolent U'wa blockade of a road approaching Occidental's controversial oil drilling site. A general strike is now in effect in the U'wa region, as rural workers respond to the Colombian National Police's brutality to the U'wa.
Activist and Colombian citizen Maria Gallon said, "Cash from Oxy investors like Gore and Fidelity will be used to drill on U'wa land against the tribe's will and to pollute tropical rainforests."