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Critics Applaud Industry Call to Boycott Products From Burma - 2003-04-16


Critics of Burma's military government are applauding the call by a major U.S. industry association for an immediate ban on apparel and footwear imports from the Southeast Asian country.

A spokesman for the U.S.-based Free Burma Coalition says Tuesday's appeal by the American Association of Apparel and Footwear Manufacturers will strengthen the grassroots effort to boycott Burmese products. He said no companies should profit from forced labor that is alleged to be widespread in that country.

In its appeal, the Apparel and Footwear Manufacturers urged the Bush administration to impose the ban until Rangoon demonstrates that it respects and enforces human rights. The association said private businesses should join world governments in condemning Burma's military government.

The latest U.S. State Department report on global human rights alleges widespread violations in Burma, including forced labor and a ban on worker unions. Two years ago, the International Labor Organization recommended that its members impose sanctions on Burma because of what it called the systematic use of forced labor.

Burma's government has said it is working to eliminate the practice.

More than 40 companies -- including Wal-Mart, Adidas and Saks -- have pledged to boycott products made in Burma.

Information for this report is provided by AFP.

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