November 6, 2003


The Burma Campaign UK and Federation of Trade Unions (Burma) are celebrating today’s news that British American Tobacco (BAT) is to pull out of Burma. The two organisations launched a global campaign to get BAT out of Burma in November last year. BAT announced today that they have sold their share of the factory in Burma to a Singapore based company.

“This is a huge victory,” said John Jackson, Director of the Burma Campaign UK. “They had to be dragged out kicking and screaming but at least they are out. If a company like BAT can be forced out of Burma, any company can be.”

BAT have been facing mounting pressure since the Burma Campaign UK drew attention to BAT’s business partnership with Burma’s brutal military dictatorship. In July 2003 the British government backed the campaign and asked BAT to leave Burma. The company has been deluged with thousands of campaign postcards and emails from campaigners in over 50 countries.

“This will deter any British companies thinking of doing business in Burma,” says Jackson. “British boardrooms know investing in Burma is a PR disaster.”

BAT is just the latest in a long line of companies that have pulled out of Burma following campaigns by the Burma Campaign UK. Earlier this year Kuoni announced it was ending tourist trips to Burma. The Burma Campaign has also succeeded in getting Premier Oil, Triumph International, and almost every major high street retailer out of Burma.

“BAT were one of the last major British companies operating in Burma,” said John Jackson. “We will now shift our focus to campaigning for a ban on imports of Burmese gems and timber into the UK and EU. They are an increasingly important source of income for the regime.”

The campaign against British American Tobacco has been supported by UNISON, Friends of the Earth, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Burma, European Burma Network, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, International Union of Foodworkers (IUF), Burma Centre Netherlands, Norwegian Church Aid, AMICUS MSF, and Australian trade union APHEDA.

For more information contact Mark Farmaner, Burma Campaign UK Media Officer,or John Jackson, Director of Burma Campaign UK on 020 7324 4713
To contact Friends of the Earth call Craig Bennett on 0207 566 1667




  • Burma Campaign UK and Federation of Trade Unions (Burma) launch global against BAT.
  • Burma Campaign UK release letter from BAT Deputy Chairman Ken Clarke MP in which he admits: “The problem in Burma arises when companies start collaborating with an extremely unpleasant regime which is totally contrary to our notions of civil liberties and democracy.”
  • BAT is bombarded with hundreds of campaign emails.


  • BAT starts PR fight back, releasing a statement which gives the impression the military won election in 1990 and falsely claiming Aung San Suu Kyi is not against investment.
  • Vera Baird MP puts down Early Day Motion (EDM) in the House of Commons calling on BAT to close its factory in Burma. 81 MPs have signed the EDM.


  • Campaign launched in Australia by trade union APHEDA.

MARCH 2003

  • 50 campaigners wearing Ken Clarke masks protest at BAT London HQ.
  • Burmese government in exile backs the campaign.
  • Federation of Trade Unions (Burma) reveals BAT has been exporting fish from Burma and selling them in Hong Kong for dollars.

APRIL 2003

  • BAT’s Annual General Meeting is dominated by questions over their Burma factory. Ken Clarke gaffes again, criticising the dictatorship even though they are BAT’s business partners.

MAY 2003

  • Burma Campaign UK exposes BAT for exaggerating the salaries of its lowest paid workers in Burma by 86%.

JUNE 2003

  • Burma Campaign UK hands letter explaining the campaign to BAT staff as they arrive for work at the London HQ. BAT Chairman Martin Broughton comes down from his office specially to tear a copy up.

JULY 2003

  • British Government formally asks BAT to leave Burma. BAT agrees to consider the request.

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