Dear Mr. Kingsley and Mr. Vollstead,
I am writing to alert you to the possibility that teak products
imported from Burma by your company have been associated with
child or forced labor, and to request that you refrain from
importing teak from Burma while it remains under the rule of
the current military regime.
In a January 5th, 2001 Executive Order, the U.S. Departments
of Labor, Treasury and State wrote that, "Based on recent,
credible, and appropriately corroborated information from
various sources, the Department of Labor, the Department of
State, and the Department of the Treasury have concluded that
there is a reasonable basis to believe that the following
products, identified by their country of origin, might have
been mined, produced, or manufactured by forced or indentured
child labor: Bamboo(Burma) Beans (including yellow, soya, and
green beans) (Burma) Bricks (hand-made) (Burma, Pakistan)
Chilies (Burma) Corn (Burma) Pineapples (Burma) Rice (Burma)
Rubber (Burma) Shrimp (aquaculture)(Burma) Sugarcane (Burma)
Teak (Burma) (emphasis added)."
The Order goes on to state that:
"federal contractors who supply products on the list are
required to certify, among other things, that they have made
a good faith effort to determine whether forced or indentured
child labor was used to produce the item."
Regardless of whether you have federal contracts, I believe it
is your moral duty to avoid association with products that may
have been produced with child labor, forced labor, and/or
without consideration for the environment and local communities.
The Burmese military junta is one of the most brutal and lawless
in the world today. Their word alone cannot be taken as assurance
that wood has been harvested sustainably or that child and forced
labor has not been used. In addition, providing revenue, especially
hard currency, to Burma at this time serves to prop up an
illegitimate and repressive regime. The leaders of the democratically
elected party of Burma, including Aung San Suu Kyi, have asked U.S.
and other western firms not to invest in Burma. In the U.S., consumer
boycotts have been initiated against companies sourcing apparel from
EarthRights International is a non-profit organization with offices
in the U.S. and Thailand. For five years, they have monitored the
human rights and environmental situation in Burma. Their research
confirms what many U.S. companies have determined for themselves -
there is no way to do business in Burma without abetting the
violation of human rights.
Again, I urge you to cease importation of teak from Burma, and I
look forward to a response to this request. Thank you for your