Thursday 2 December 2010

Total Boycott and the BBC

I was recently invited onto the 'Sunday' programme on Radio 4 to discuss the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. I had been involved with the Burmese Rohingya community for several years (read details in the book!) and together we had organised a street party on the 13th November to celebrate her forthcoming release. The BBC producer talked to me on the Saturday morning, and I explained that we had gained the trust of the Rohingyan community by occupying Total Garages to highlight the companies links to the oppressive Myamar (Burmese) Junta.  We had planned to closedown a Total garage in the event that Aung San Suu Kyi was not released as promised.

On the sunday, literally minutes before I was due on air, the producer spoke into my headphones: "You cannot go on air if you are going to mention Total, they may sue the BBC or you as an individual". I argued that it was nothing that hadn't been said on air before, and that Aung San Suu Kyi herself had initially called for the boycott - all to no avail. On the radio, I was only able to encourage listeners to join the Free burma Campaign and join their activities, and to boycott companies involved in Burma, and to push for sanctions that targetted the ability of the Junta to oppress the population.  I was desperately annoyed at the BBC's failure to stand up to the lawyers of multinationals.

On the first interview upon her release, Aung San Suu Kyi stated that 'the mark of a true democracy was its freedom of speech'. How sad that the British media's freedom of speech is curtailed by the power of the corporations.

1 comment:

  1. That's shocking Chris. Thanks for writing about it. I enjoyed reading this piece and hearing about your work. I look forward to the next post. Susan X