Profiting from misery

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions– the good guys, the anti-Communists, the opponents of the Soviet-dominated World Federation of Trade Unions, the supporters of workers’ rights to organize freely in places like Cuba and North Korea– has compiled a list of 375 multinational corporations with business ties to Burma.

The ICFTU notes, “It is impossible to conduct any trade or engage in any other economic activity in Burma without providing the junta with direct or indirect support, mostly financial.”

According to the ICFTU web site:

In Burma, on any given day, several hundred thousand men, women, children and elderly people are forced to work against their will by the country’s military rulers. Forced labour can include building army camps, roads, bridges, railroads, etc. Refusal to work may lead to being detained, tortured, raped, or killed.

Military officers issue written forced labour orders everyday. The ICFTU knows their units, rank, names and movements. There are only two ways to escape forced labour: paying for a replacement, or, when money has run out, fleeing before the army comes to burn your village and kill you or your family.

So wittingly or not, these corporations are helping to prop up a government that for sheer awfulness and brutality, rivals Saddam Hussein’s unlamented regime in Iraq. Don’t those of us who supported the ouster of Saddam and his thugs primarily as an act of humanitarian mercy have a responsibility to let the people who control these corporations know how we feel about what they’re doing?