Big Oil And Dictatorships.
Large oil companies are often not to choosy who they do business with, be it dodgy potentates in the Middle East, to the repressive Generals in Burma, but with the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico they are, thankfully, coming under more scrutiny.
Time magazine has more:
“To the list of Big Oil companies with p.r. problems add two more: Chevron and French energy giant Total. In a report published on Monday, the NGO EarthRights International accuses the firms of being implicated in human-rights violations in Burma, claiming that soldiers guarding Chevron and Total’s natural-gas pipeline in the country have murdered locals and forced others to do backbreaking, unpaid labor in order to keep the gas exports flowing smoothly. The report also holds that the revenues from the operation have been propping up the country’s oppressive military government for more than a decade, thus fostering harmful political outcomes that affect the entire country.
EarthRights’ complaints against Total and Chevron are not new. Last year, the NGO, which is based in Washington and Chiang Mai, Thailand, published interviews with locals describing how soldiers protecting the pipeline had dragooned them into unpaid manual labor. The pipeline, which crosses more than 40 miles of Burmese territory, is a joint venture among Chevron, Total, a Thai energy company and the Burmese state oil and gas authority. Activists say it is a short section of the pipeline that travels overland through a remote part of the country that has led to ongoing conflicts between residents and the Burmese army’s Battalion 282, the soldiers charged with protecting the pipeline. Until the pipeline was built in the mid-1990s, the area saw little military action. But according to the EarthRights report, in February some soldiers of the battalion murdered two residents in the pipeline area after suspecting them of being linked to an armed militia group. “
(H/T: Andrew Murphy)
Update 1: The EarthRights International report is here, as a PDF.
Update 2: Reuters’ coverage of the BP’s oil spill is good.