Burma group slams Comic Relief

The Burma Campaign has publicly censured Comic Relief over its refusal to end its contract with DHL, the Deutsche Post-owned logistics company that has a joint venture with Burma's state-owned Myanma Post and Telecoms.

Burma Campaign's media and campaigns officer Mark Farmaner said the decision to name and shame Comic Relief had been "difficult" because it was a fellow charity. But he said that despite being given extra leeway to comply with the Burma Campaign's demand, Comic Relief had refused to budge.

"We've given it several months to consider its involvement and make a decision," Farmaner said. In comparison, corporate entities receive just one month's notice that they are to be included on the 'dirty list' of organisations that have links to Burma. That has been sufficient notice for companies, including the global advertising group WPP, to change their policy, he added.

"Frankly, we've got better responses from some corporations, than we've had from Comic Relief."

He explained that Comic Relief had not been added to the 'dirty list' because that was confined to companies.

The Burma Campaign has written to and met with Comic Relief, and had discussed an August deadline for the charity to cease its involvement with DHL. It even complied with Comic Relief's request to keep the issue out of the public eye until its board of trustees had reviewed the issue.

Comic Relief's only response has been that DHL's presence in Burma is unclear, despite the fact that DHL's website lists a Rangoon office, said Farmaner. A DHL spokesman said: "Comic Relief is fully aware of the operation's presence and it fully understands our position."

Farmaner accused Myanma Post and Telecom of bugging telephone lines, intercepting mail, and cutting off the phone and postal services of Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Comic Relief said that people with concerns over its partner organisations should contact the companies directly.

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