March 5, 2008

Willis Ceases Cover to Burma, Pressure Mounts on Insurers Operating in Burma

The Burma Campaign UK welcomes the undertaking by the world’s third largest insurance broker to end their involvement in Burma. The decision follows the company being placed on Burma Campaign’s ‘Dirty List’ in 2004 and the creation of an advisory panel of insurance experts in November 2007. The ‘Dirty List’ exposes companies that are directly or indirectly helping to finance Burma’s brutal military dictatorship. It is the official policy of the British Government to discourage trade and investment in Burma

Burma Campaign UK has today written to all insurance companies that operate out of the United Kingdom urging them to follow the example of Willis, Swiss RE and AON by ceasing to insure companies operating in Burma. The campaigning group has evidence that many other UK based insurers are providing cover to companies operating in Burma. Insurance companies operating in Burma face a public relations disaster as the Burma Campaign UK prepares to shine the spotlight on the role of the insurance industry in facilitating trade and investment with Burma’s brutal dictatorship.

“We are delighted that Willis has taken the principled decision to stop doing business in Burma. Today we call on all insurance companies to stop supporting the Burmese generals by covering the foreign companies that are the regime’s financial lifeline,” said Johnny Chatterton, Campaigns Officer at The Burma Campaign UK. He continued “The world was shocked at the brutal repression of the peaceful protests last year, insurance companies must realise that by providing cover to companies operating in Burma they are helping to fund a dictatorship that uses rape, torture and murder to oppress its own people.”

Burma’s democracy movement has called on companies not to invest in Burma, pointing to the fact that foreign investment and trade has enriched the regime, but not benefited most ordinary Burmese people. The regime spends around half its budget on the military and just 1.4% on education.

Naing Ko Ko, Secretary of International Campaign Dept. for the Federation of Trade Unions – Burma, also welcomed the news from Willis “We have repeatedly called on insurance companies to end their involvement in our military junta run country. They are not playing a positive role in our economy. They are helping to keep the military in power and so increasing poverty in Burma.”

Willis joins a long list of over 100 companies that have ended their involvement in Burma in recent years following pressure from The Burma Campaign UK, including Swiss RE, AON, Rolls Royce, British American Tobacco, Premier Oil, WPP, PwC, and Carnival Corporation.

For more information, contact Johnny Chatterton, Campaigns Officer, on 020 7324 4714


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