Priest pours blood at Total garage in Good Friday protest over Burma links

By staff writers
March 29, 2013

An Anglican priest has poured his own blood on the floor of a petrol station on Good Friday, to protest against Total Oil’s investments in Burma.

The Rev Dr Keith Hebden, a Church of England vicar and ‘Seeking Justice’ adviser for the Mansfield Deanery, took the action At 5pm on Friday 29 March.

After pouring his blood, he laid down in front of the entrance with a notice reading, “Boycott Total for the sake of Burma: Total Regime Change Now!”

“On the day when we commemorate the execution of Jesus – a scapegoat for an unjust system – we need to remember those still being scapegoated 2,000 years later for the unjust system we play a part in now” said Dr Hebden in explaining his “die-in” at a petrol station on Southwell Road West, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.

Last year tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fled their homes in the face of persecution from the ethnic majority. In recent weeks the violence has escalated again with the government coming under fierce criticism accused of exploiting communal tension.

US-based think tank Oil Change International's research suggests that “[t]here are credible reports that the Burmese military is involved in the ethnic cleansing.”

Critics say that foreign banks and oil companies, investing heavily in the dictatorship, have helped to prop up its military government. Among the biggest current investors is Total Oil.

In the light of a partial opening up of the Burmese government, the EU is currently reviewing economic sanctions against the regime.

But pressure group Burma Campaign UK argue that it is too soon to celebrate: “Burma’s generals did not suddenly wake up one morning and decide they wanted Burma to be a democracy. International pressure has clearly played a motivating role in the reforms currently taking place," the NGO says.

"To relax too much pressure too soon risks reducing the motivation for further reform. A careful balance needs to be struck between continued pressure and encouragement. The European Union is not getting that balance right,” a spokesperson explained.

“The horrors of irresponsible investments in dictatorships around the world seem too distant to be relevant to us in the UK,” added Dr Hebden, who is also an associate of the UK Christian think-tank Ekklesia.

“There are things we can do to bring about change," he said after taking his action. "boycott Total Oil and Barclays bank and put pressure on their Directors to disinvest in the killing fields of Burma before it’s too late and the genocide is complete.”

* Burma Campaign UK - http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/

* Rohingya Journalism Fund: exposing the terrible truth - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/18161

* Rohingya concerns on Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/rohingya

* Save the Rohingya: http://savetherohingya.blogspot.co.uk/

* More on Burma: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/search/node/burma

[Ekk/3]

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