Comment on this article |
View comments |
Email this article |
Burma Action Movement Protests Outside Macy's
by John Reynolds
Email: johnreyn (nospam) mit.edu
27 Dec 2001
Modified: 25 Feb 2002
Members of the Burma Action Movement at Brandeis University held a two-hour protest outside of Macy’s Department Store. The group, chanting slogans such as “Get your slave goods at Macy’s” drew attention to Macy’s sale of clothing made in Myanmar, a country known for its military dictatorship and use of forced labor.
Members of the Burma Action Movement at Brandeis University held a two-hour protest outside of Macy’s Department Store in Downtown Crossing on Wednesday. The group, chanting slogans such as “Boycott Macy’s” and “Get your slave goods at Macy’s” drew attention to Macy’s sale of clothing made in Myanmar, or Burma, which is a country known for its military dictatorship and use of forced labor.
Some customers decided to shop elsewhere after learning about the human rights abuses in Myanmar. One of the protesters, Andrew Lightman said, “We turned some people away. One woman wanted to buy a coat, but ended up going to Nieman Marcus.”
Another protestor, Michael Lurie, predicted that Macy’s would follow other large retailers, such as Ames Department Stores Inc., Crate & Barrel, and Williams Sonoma - companies who have recently agreed not to source or sell goods from Burma. Luire also stated, “The protest is part of a larger struggle. I'm convinced that both international pressure and internal resistance on the part of the democratic forces in Burma will contribute to bringing about a change of rule in that country.”
A 1996 Massachusetts law denied state contracts to any company doing business in Burma because of its blatant violations of human rights. However, the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that Massachusetts was undermining Federal authority, overturned this law.
The U.S. banned investment in Burma in 1997, but companies established there before 1997 may still do business with the pariah state, and the military rulers still benefit from sales of apparel to the U.S - estimated at $400 million in 2000 by the National Labor Committee.
The Burma Action Movement at Brandeis is part of the Free Burma Coalition (FBC), which is made up of groups working for democracy in Burma and is modeled on the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.
The FBC recognizes Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) as the legitimate rulers of Burma, as they were elected to power in 1990, only to have the military regime annul the results of the election. Suu Kyi won the Noble Peace Prize in 1991 for promoting Democracy in Burma, and is currently under house arrest by the military regime.
Suu Kyi has called on nations to divest from Burma and to not purchase goods made there in order to weaken the military rulers. In response to critics who claim that trade still benefits people ruled by oppressive governments, she stated, "Until we have a system that guarantees the rule of law and basic democratic institutions, no amount of aid or foreign investment will benefit our people."
Boycott Macy's and Bloomingdales!
by Dan Beeton
dbeeton (nospam) freeburmacoalition.org (unverified)
25 Feb 2002
NO Forced Labor!!
Bloomingdales is a retailer of garments from Burma – a Southeast Asian country ruled by a brutal military dictatorship. But Bloomingdales should know better: the garment industry in Burma is closely tied to a modern form of slave labor.
Garment companies in Burma are controlled completely by the dictators, whom have been criticized by the U.S. State Department, the United Nations, Amnesty International, and others for brutal violations of human rights -- killing, torture, a modern form of slave labor, and rape.
The money you spend in Bloomingdales on goods that are from Burma benefits Burma’s military dictators and means more suffering for the 50 million people living in the country. To make matters worse, worker rights are not enforced in Burma and health and safety standards are virtually nonexistent.
Write Bloomingdales directly using the company own web site:
Points to include in your email:
· You are aware that Bloomingdales’ Federated Department Stores does not source private-label product from manufacturers in Burma; but that their “Vendor/Supplier Code of Conduct” makes little difference as long as Federated continues to retail products from companies who not concerned about the conditions under which their products are produced.
· Federated’s policy does not address the manufacture of products in the countries with the worst labor standards of all: those where there is no rule of law, like Burma.
· Factories in Burma, including garment factories, are closely tied to “child” and “forced labor and unsafe working conditions” which Federated claims to oppose. Forced labor – including forced child labor – is used in the construction of Burma’s factories and infrastructure.
· Other companies have agreed to stop stocking products from Burma, including Wal-Mart, TJX, Ames Department Stores, IKEA, Williams Sonoma, Crate & Barrel, Costco, and Family Dollar.
· Since Federated carries products made in Burma from “a small number of manufacturers”, it should be easy for them to stop.
· Federated perpetuates forced labor in Burma by helping to create a demand for products made there, and Federated has the moral duty to stop.
· Until Federated does so, you will be BOYCOTTING THEIR STORES AND URGING OTHERS TO DO THE SAME!
Email Bloomingdales on their website at http://www.bloomingdales.com/contactus/index.html
Cc emails, and any responses you get from Federated to dbeeton (at) freeburmacoalition.org.
For more information on the boycott of Federated Stores, www.freeburmacoalition.org or call 202-547-5985.
And here's a sample letter:
I am writing to protest the fact that Bloomingdales is selling apparel labeled "Made in Burma" or "Made in Myanmar."
Virtually all apparel factories in Burma are substantially owned by the Burmese military and are a valuable source of revenue for the Burmese army. Most responsible apparel companies have stopped sourcing apparel from Burma. Several retailers - including Ames and Wal-Mart - have taken the additional step of pledging to stop even stocking any apparel made in Burma.
I understand that Bloomingdales no longer directly sources any of its own brand apparel from Burma. I urge you to follow the lead of Ames and Wal-Mart and refuse to stock any merchandise made in Burma.
I would like to shop in Bloomingdales in the knowledge that you are not supporting Burma's military junta. Please write back and tell me when you decide to cease stocking any products made in Burma.