CLC and ICEM Call on Ivanhoe Mines to Withdraw from BurmaPublished by MAC on 2003-06-12
CLC and ICEM Call on Ivanhoe Mines to Withdraw from Burma
12th June 2003
Joint Media Release of the Canadian Labour Congress and the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions
Ottowa and Washington, D.C.,- As the Canadian-based Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. (TSE:IVN) holds its annual shareholders meeting today in Vancouver, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers Union (ICEM) have urged the company to end its joint venture with the brutal Burmese military dictatorship.
The Burmese military regime is responsible for very serious human rights violations, including massacres, torture, use of rape as a weapon of war, and ethnic cleansing. Millions have been forced into modern day slavery through the military's widespread and systemic use of forced labour. Responding to appeals by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and pro-democracy and human rights advocates worldwide, many multinational companies have disinvested from Burma, including Premier Oil, Triumph International, Texaco, Arco, PepsiCo, Eastman Kodak, Motorola, and Best Western.
Going against this international business trend, Ivanhoe plans to increase its involvement with this brutal regime-- in addition to its joint venture copper mine at Monywa, the company is planning the Letpadaung extension project and a new gold mine at Moditaung. The Monywa Copper mine represents the largest ongoing Burmese investment of a Canadian-based corporation.
Ken Georgetti, President of the Canadian Labour Congress, says Canadians care deeply about human rights and will not tolerate having their county's reputation soiled by the greed of a few corporations.
"Events in Burma in recent weeks are impossible to ignore. They cannot be glossed over by the public relations spin of companies like Ivanhoe or additional noises of concern from the Canadian government. To do so requires a moral blind spot to large to live with," he said.
According to Georgetti, the shameful reality that Canada now stands as one of Burma's largest investors -- and as a result one of that brutal dictatorship's largest sponsors -- is unacceptable to Canadians and he predicts strong public support if the government were to react with full and effective economic sanctions.
The joint call of the two labour federations is part of a global initiative of trade unions to restore democracy and respect for human rights in Burma. Union members are joining together with Burmese refugees, religious and human rights activists in a demonstration today outside of Ivanhoe's shareholders meeting in Vancouver.
"Ivanhoe management should recognize that its continued investment in Burma is propping up a heinous military dictatorship," said Kenneth Zinn, ICEM North American Regional Coordinator.
"The recent abduction on May 30 of Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi not far from the Monywa mine and the nationwide crackdown on the pro-democracy movement provides ample evidence that this dictatorship is not serious about reform," said Zinn.
"It is well past time for Ivanhoe to disinvest from Burma."
The ICEM is a global trade union federation uniting 20 million workers in over 400 affiliated unions in 110 countries. The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labor movement, represents 2.5 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada's national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations f labour and 137 district labour councils.
Web site: www.clc-ctc.ca
For further information: Kenneth Zinn (ICEM): (202) 974-8080 Jeff Atkinson (CLC): (613) 526-7425
Further information on the ICEM's North American activities can be found www.icemna.org
Circulated by: Canada Asia Pacific Resource Network (CAPRN)
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