BURMA, TOTAL AND HUMAN RIGHTS : DISSECTION OF A PROJECT

30/10/1996
Report
en fr

A journalist who recently spoke about the TOTAL’S gas-pipeline project in Burma referred to its
"loathsome banality." The problem posed by the construction site is indeed not new. Since the
conclusion of the first contract in July 1992, numerous reports have been published which question not
only the opportunity, per se, of such a project, but also the conditions under which the works have
unfolded at the construction site.

FIDH, therefore, undertook the task of investigating the allegations, inquiring about human rights
violations at the construction sites, as well as providing the French public (since heretofore, the majority
of published reports has come from English-speaking groups) and the international public opinion with
a precise report on the situation at the construction sites of the French group TOTAL: TOTAL is the
operator of the project and the financial partner with the highest stakes in it. It is therefore the most
responsible of all parties for its realisation.

As was inevitable, this report presented a methodological problem, since independent observers are
not allowed on the construction site. In a recent interview with FIDH. though, Mr. Daniel Valot, the
General Director of TOTAL’s Exploration/Production department, nonetheless responded positively to
the idea of a truly independent mission, and FIDH ardently hopes that its request to this end may soon
become a reality. The present report is thus founded on information collected from other reports and
sources - information which has been confirmed and verified, in keeping with the methods traditionally
embraced by FIDH. The recent report of the Southeast Asian Information Network and Earth Rights
International, Total Denial, published in July 1996 (and particularly its interviews with the refugees at the
Thai border), was a vast and precious source of information, on which a number of passages in this text
are based. Our great appreciation goes to its authors. A number of other sources may not be cited here
for obvious security reasons, but the authors of the present report nonetheless wish to express their
gratitude for their cooperation which has proven to be extremely valuable, and, indeed, indispensable.
We express our warm gratitude to Milos Naumovic who graciously translated this report into English.

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