More From Alder's Ledge

June 15, 2013

The Clash Between Justice And Exploitation

KFC Joins The #BoycottBurma List
(#BoycottBurma series)

"I believe that there will be ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those who do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the system of exploitation."
~ Malcolm X

With a sudden thaw in relations between the American government and that of Myanmar the world has witnessed what we thought might never happen... the infusion of corporate America into the remains of Burmese junta society. Where there had been strong resistance just a decade ago to the West there is suddenly a hunger for today. This is in part due to the lifting of the military pressure upon true Burmese society. It is also in part due to the lust of Western corporations for the cheap labor market Burma presents and a society of upper class Burmese citizens willing to buy their wares. 

When Ford announced it's launch into the Burmese auto market the world shrugged. The auto industry in Myanmar is chaotic at best. So the addition of one more auto giant seemed to be a drop in the ocean, so to speak. For those who are boycotting Burmese products and the companies that produce them, it was the return of Ford to it's genocidal policy first introduced with the Nazis. And for the most part, with the activist crowd it was hardly surprising that Ford would drive onto the scene fully willing to prop up an unethical government and support it's genocidal economic policies. 

Then came Colonel Sanders...

Over the past two decades KFC has been spreading across Asia. The introduction of the company into Asian society seemed to follow the spread of the food chain across American military establishments around the world. This has allowed KFC to hop off bases in Korea and Japan and out onto the streets of Seoul and Tokyo. With the ability to adapt it's marketing and recipes to the local diets, KFC has become successful in foreign markets. 

However KFC has not needed to stay near American tourists to maintain itself abroad. You can find KFC now in areas where few Western tourists are likely to venture. In neighborhoods where local citizens once had traditional family owned restaurants to choose from Western fast food is pushing it's way in. This move forward into "virgin soil" has now led KFC into Myanmar as the Western tourists take to the streets of Yangon. 

Placing ads in local newspapers under the name 'Yum Brands' (company that technically owns KFC), KFC has put Rangoon on notice that it will be moving in with force. Shutting down locally run competitors, who had used knock-off logos and names, KFC is attracting a lot of attention. Media from both Myanmar and abroad are curious to see how this new venture by KFC will play out. Activists in the West however are not as thrilled to see just what KFC has in store for Myanmar.
Those who have been watching the genocide of the Rohingya people in the Arakan know all to well that Rohingya are forbidden from seeking employment within Myanmar. They have long been considered "illegal immigrants" by the Burmese government despite their existence in Myanmar for centuries on end. Those who have been watching this genocide thus know that no matter how many jobs KFC spreads across Burma there will never be an economic boom for the Rohingya as long as companies like KFC keep sponsoring the government's genocide. 

This has led to the bitter resistance of many activists across the world as they take to twitter using the hashtag #BoycottBurma. Their message is clear. It is straight to the point. It simply states that as long as Western companies invest in Burma's government by boosting it's economy (thus it's capacity to commit genocide) these individuals will boycott. 

The idea comes directly from the history of how mass boycotts helped bring about meaningful change in South Africa during apartheid. It is driven off the hopes that economic pressures applied by citizens around the world can drive a faceless corporation like Yum Brands to pull it's American affiliate KFC out of countries that carry out genocide. To be affective this movement must reach out to schools, colleges, companies and work places, churches, mosque, and other religious centers to bring on board large distributors and consumers of products that companies doing business with Burma produce. It also means that the supporters of these sorts of movements must be willing to give up daily comforts, such as ready made fried chicken. 

This is the essence of the clash between those who seek freedom, justice, and equality for everyone and those who seek to profit of a system of exploitation. It is in this fight that we must decide what we are willing to give up in order to make our point, honestly, before the world. We must rally around a cause while sacrificing something of ourselves. It is in this clash that we learn not just what it is to scream on behalf of others, but it is this effort that we learn what it means to fight for others. 

Join the fight. 

Scream for the Rohingya by taking this message and others like it to your social media sites and sharing them with your own portion of the world. Multiply the audience this information can reach by never remaining silent. Constantly scream. 

Boycott the companies that refuse to leave Myanmar until meaningful change is introduced in the Arakan, Shan, Kachin, and Chin regions. But don't do it silently... scream about it. Make it known to all your friends, family, and acquaintances. Tell the world why. Tell them who you are boycotting. And tell them frequently. 

This is the clash between the oppressed and the oppressors. You are the front line. 

"The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people"
~Martin Luther King Jr.

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Source Documents
(Note: not all sources are listed)

The Japanese Times 

USA Today

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