HRW calls on foreign investors to halt Myanmar junta payments
Bangkok, Nov 19 (EFE).- Rights group Human Rights Watch called Friday on investors with interests in international companies such as Chevron, Total and POSCO to paralyze payments to state companies controlled by Myanmar’s military junta.
In a statement, the organization said these companies, as well as Thailand’s PTT, are involved in natural gas exploitation projects that annually generate about $ 1 billion for the Myanmar military who control the country since the Feb. 1 coup.
The organization said it wrote to investment funds with participation in Chevron, Total or Posco such as Blackrock, State Street and Vanguard last month, as well as JP Morgan Chase, Bank of New York Mellon, Fisher Asset Management and Dimensional Fund Advisors.
The letters spoke of the detriment to investors’ reputation and financial risks and proposed ways to stop making payments without paralyzing gas supplies to the country.
“Investors must act now to help block the huge payments now being made to the brutal military junta,” said the organization’s Asia campaign manager John Sifton, who accused the junta of crimes against humanity, murders and torture.
“The junta is highly dependent on foreign United States dollar revenue from mining and gas, and new ways of blocking payments may be the only way to change its behavior,” Sifton added.
The organization said companies with contracts in Myanmar such as Chevron or Total have little room for maneuver to stop payments, adding that this is feasible if there are imposed sanctions or other financial regulations.
They said investment funds must also comply with the defense of human rights according to the United Nations principles for good business practices.
Several powers, such as the European Union, the US, the United Kingdom and Canada, have in recent months approved packages of selective sanctions directed against the economic interests of the Myanmar military.
However, so far no sanctions have been approved against Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, the state-owned company that manages oil and gas exploitation in the country. EFE