Burmese nationals in the United States are stepping up to support the population back home in Myanmar where the military shows no sign of stopping its deadly crackdown against pro-democracy protesters following its February power grab.
Houston Peace and Justice Center, Texas Drought Project and Texas Sunrise Movement on behalf of the Burmese community in the US are planning on Saturday to demonstrate against the military coup and Chevron in front of the US energy major’s building in Houston.
A statement on behalf of Burmese community in the USA said they vehemently condemn and reject the military coup d’etat and they have made five demands of the junta with immediate effect. That all detainees including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint are released, the democratically elected civilian government is restored, human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected, the killing of peaceful protesters stops, and that the military relinquishes “illegitimate power”.
The Myanmar army (Tatmadaw) on 1 February seized power in a coup although they have since pledged to hold fresh elections within a year.
“The Burmese military crushed our hope for the fledgling democracy and seized power against the will of 54 million people on the pretence of baseless election and voter frauds,” the statement on Wednesday said.
Reign of terror
“The military regime has successively controlled the country over 50 years with the iron fist. Under the reign of terror, several generations have been living in fear due to the regime’s unparalleled cruelty and oppression. This week is no different.
“The military has detained hundreds of democratically elected officials, civil leaders, and political activists in order to suppress the uprising.”
The Burmese community in the US also urged the US government and Congress to impose targeted sanctions against the junta and an additional targeted sanction on state-owned Myanma Oil & Gas Enterprise (MOGE).
Also on their wish list is the passing of Senate Resolution 105 to assist the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) in Myanmar and the provision of “necessary assistance and resources to overturn Burmese military”.
“We are committed to coordinating all efforts with the US governments, US Congress and all International communities to apply all necessary pressures and measures against the Burmese military dictatorship and its enablers like China and Russia,” the statement added.
They also want international oil and gas companies such as Chevron, Total and Petronas with operations in Myanmar to place revenue payments into escrow accounts until the democratically elected government is reinstated, cut any ties with the junta, support MOGE’s CDM and respect and honour any imposed sanctions.
Chevron told Upstream that as a non-operating partner in Total's producing Yadana offshore gas field develpment, its local subsidiary "does not direct nor control the payments of export revenues to MOGE".
Each Yadana joint venture partner, including Myanmar's national outfit that has a minority stake, receives its share separately.
"MOGE also receives an in-kind distribution in natural gas, which cannot physically be placed in escrow," said Chevron.
The US operator added that it does not participate in MOGE’s onward distribution of this gas nor make distributions of gas directly to the military although its local subsidiary does make the tax payments required by law to the inland revenue department.
“We pray for peace and safety of the people of Burma during their struggles for democracy and freedoms. The world is changing and [there is] no place for the evil military dictatorship in this civilised century,” concluded the statement.
Updated to include comment from Chevron.