February 17, 2021

Burma Campaign UK today called on the British government, EU, USA and other countries to join the boycott of military companies by imposing their own boycotts and sanctions.

Embassies, aid agencies and the UN must also join the boycott to ensure they are not helping to finance the military and the crimes it commits.

Since the military coup on 1st February there has been a rapidly growing boycott of products made by military companies. Many people in Burma are showing their anger at the coup by refusing to buy products made by military companies. Some shops have stopped selling military company products and some staff have resigned from military companies. Lists and images of military products calling for a boycott have been widely shared on social media. Leaflets are being distributed on protests and people are holding homemade boycott signs.

Burma’s military has a vast business empire which earns it hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Their products include beer, two mobile phone networks, toothpaste, tea, coffee, cement and dozens of other products. In January 2020, Burma Campaign UK published a list of military products and brands.

Human rights activists in Burma have been calling for the international community to impose targeted sanctions on military companies. Most military companies have at some point depended on international companies to supply finance, equipment, expertise and services. Burma Campaign UK has more than 100 international companies on our ‘Dirty List’ because of their links to the Burmese military.

The British embassy in Yangon has a policy of not sourcing goods and services from military companies, but we are not aware of any other embassy having publicly stated it has such a policy. Human rights activists in Yangon have long complained of being served Myanmar Beer at embassy receptions.

The British government also has a policy of making a condition on recipients of British aid that they may not spend that aid on buying goods and services from military companies. We are not aware of any other international donor having such a policy.

Apart from indoor skydiving, there are always alternatives to using military companies which are available.

“The international community needs to join the boycott of military companies, imposing sanctions to stop international companies investing in joint ventures, trading with, and providing services to military companies,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “Embassies, the UN and aid agencies also need to make sure that none of their money is spent on goods and services from military companies.”

The ‘Dirty List of international companies doing business with the military is available here.

The Boycott List of military products and brands is available here.

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