31 new companies have been added to the latest edition of the ‘Dirty List’, bringing the total number of companies to 113.
The ‘Dirty List’ names and shames international companies with business links to the Burmese military, or which are involved in projects linked to human rights violations or environmental destruction.
New companies added include shipping companies Maersk and Evergreen, which use military owned ports in Yangon, and Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts.
Publication of this updated third edition of the ‘Dirty List’ had originally been planned for February, but was delayed because of the Coronavirus pandemic. However, it has become clear that the Burmese military have seen the pandemic as an opportunity, stepping up military attacks in ethnic states while international attention is distracted. As the military is continuing to commit human rights violations, it is vital that pressure is continued, including economic pressure on their financial interests.
Companies from 27 different countries feature on the updated ‘Dirty List’.
More European companies (26) feature on the ‘Dirty List’ than Chinese companies (20), although the business relationships with Chinese companies are deeper and more significant. Two weeks ago the EU decided not to take any action against the Burmese military in response to genocide of the Rohingya and continuing violations of international law against other ethnic groups. The EU has repeatedly rejected calls to stop European companies doing business with the Burmese military.
European companies featuring on the list include the UK (5), Germany (5), France (6), and Greece (5).
Countries with the most companies doing business with the military include China (20, 23 including Hong Kong), India (11) and Singapore (11).
The United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar called for sanctions on the Burmese military’s economic interests. At the end of April, a group of Burmese activists, who have to remain anonymous because of the risk of arrest and jail, launched a new campaign, Justice For Myanmar, calling on international companies not to do business with the military. https://www.justiceformyanmar.org/.
It is not just the morality of doing business with the military or reputational damage that companies should be worrying about. By funding the military, they are complicit in their crimes. They are facilitating their crimes, and could be held legally responsible as well.
“Companies doing business with the Burmese military are helping to fund the human rights violations they commit,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “Shareholders are starting to pay more attention to this issue, and public campaigns are growing. It is no longer the case that doing business with the military is unavoidable in Burma because of the scale of their economic interests. With the exception of indoor skydiving, there are always alternatives to military companies.”