February 26, 2004

SUPPORT GROWS FOR BURMA INVESTMENT BAN

The Burma Campaign UK is welcoming cross-party support for its campaign to persuade companies not to invest in Burma.

Speaking in a debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday, shadow foreign minister Richard Spring MP stated: “We welcome BAT’s decision last year, and Premier Oil’s decision before that, to pull out of the country, thereby sending a very clear message to the regime.”

He went on to say: “I pay tribute to the untiring efforts of the Burma Campaign UK, which does so much to keep the profile of this issue high and to persuade companies of the error of supporting such a brutal regime – however indirectly – by investing in the country.”

During the debate MPs from all three main political parties called on the government to impose tougher sanctions on Burma. Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael, who introduced the debate, repeatedly pressed foreign office Minister Mike O’Brien to introduce legislation banning new investment in Burma. In opposition the Labour Party supported economic sanctions called for by the Burma Campaign UK.

In the last parliamentary session 243 MPs supported an EDM calling for a ban on new investment in Burma, making it the 12th most supported EDM in the Parliamentary session.

“Foreign investment has played a key role in propping up the regime in Burma,” said John Jackson, Director of the Burma Campaign UK. “Today, if any British company decided to invest in Burma the government would be powerless to stop them. They need to introduce the legislation now. If they wait till a company makes an announcement it will go in, it will be too late.”

Orient Express is currently considering expanding its operations in Burma, despite government demands that they pull out of the country.

Britain ranks as the second largest investor in Burma in the past decade, with $1.4 billion of approved investment.  This compares to just $64 million by neighbouring China, which is ranked 15th.

The call for a ban on new investment in Burma is supported by the Burma Sanctions Coalition, whose members include the Co-operative Bank, UNISON, Anti-Slavery International, Friends of the Earth, World Development Movement, United Nations Association, GPMU, People and Planet, Tourism Concern, Free Tibet Campaign, The Body Shop and National Justice and Peace Network.

For more information contact Mark Farmaner, Media Officer on 020 7324 4713 or John Jackson, Director of the Burma Campaign UK, on 020 7324 4712

 


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