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Closed Down in Burma.

Within hours of a press conference by Representative Cynthia McKinney and the National Labor Committee, the Pentagon announced on December 21 that the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, which runs 1,400 stores at military installations around the world, will no longer import clothing from Burma. According to The New York Times, the AAFES "had imported $138,290 in clothing from Myanmar despite a ban by the Clinton Administration on investing in that country."

McKinney, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, had just announced that she and fourteen of her colleagues were asking the Government Accounting Office to investigate the Pentagon's ties to Burmese sweatshops.

"Last week, President Clinton awarded the Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian award, to Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's Nobel Prize-winning advocate for democracy," McKinney said on December 21. "At that very moment, she was being held under house arrest by a brutal military regime that has earned worldwide condemnation for repression and the use of forced labor. Yet, the U.S. military has decided to support this oppressive regime, and undermine the efforts of President Clinton and human rights groups worldwide. I cannot understand what the Pentagon must be thinking. The fact that our Department of Defense is propping up one of the most oppressive military regimes in the world is ludicrous," she said.

When the Pentagon reversed course, McKinney applauded. "I commend the Pentagon for doing the right thing and pulling out of Burma," she said. "I hope this is only the first step in transforming the Army and Air Force Exchange Service into a sustainable organization that promotes American values abroad."

The Burma ties were "too embarrassing," says Charles Kernaghan of the National Labor Committee. The Clinton Administration had little choice to but to give in, he says.

The success on the Burma front gives Kernaghan hope. He notes that the Army and Air Force Exchange Service is "larger than Kohl's" in its clothing sales. "If we can drag them out of the mud, we can have a huge impact on the industry," he says. "Right now, they're down at the bottom with Wal-Mart."

For more information on Pentagon sweatshops in Nicaragua and Burma, contact the National Labor Committee at (212) 242-3002, or visit its web site at www.nlcnet.org.
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Title Annotation:clothing will no longer be imported from Myanmar
Author:Rothschild, Matthew
Publication:The Progressive
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2001
Words:382
Previous Article:Pentagon Sweatshops.
Next Article:"The Two Faces of the U.S. Government".
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