Burma Briefing No. 43
In 2002, Burma Campaign UK published the first ‘Dirty List’ of companies directly or indirectly helping the military dictatorship in Burma, or which were linked to human rights violations. The ‘Dirty List’ was a tactic to pressure companies to stop funding the military dictatorship, and to draw attention to the links between the UK and Burma. The campaign for sanctions and company campaigns, including the ‘Dirty List’, was stopped when Aung San Suu Kyi dropped her support for them, and other parts of the democracy movement followed her lead.
However, as sanctions against the military have been lifted and as offers of training and co-operation come piling in from several countries, the human rights violations they have been committing have reached such a serious scale that the United Nations have begun an investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Burmese Army in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States. Min Aung Hlaing is also blocking constitutional reform to make Burma more democratic. The military are reaping huge benefits from the new system they have introduced, while life for ordinary people has improved little or not at all. To date, the military appear to be one of the main economic beneficiaries of the lifting of sanctions.
Instead of companies seeing Min Aung Hlaing as the criminal he is, instead of treating him as a pariah, they wine and dine him trying to sell him military equipment. They go into business with military owned companies, providing the military with more revenue, more money to conduct the military operations where they rape and kill and where they violate international law.
Burma Campaign UK has been asked why we are not targeting the companies supplying the Burmese military. We have been asked why we are not targeting companies doing business with the military. It has been suggested to us that we should revive the ‘Dirty List’ to target such companies.
This briefing explores the pros and cons of a campaign to renew economic pressure on the military in Burma.