Conflicts & War

Intl banks asked to suspend investments linked to Myanmar junta

Bangkok, May 27 (EFE).- Non-Governmental Organizations Justice for Myanmar and BankTrack called on more than 30 international banks Thursday to cancel or suspend investments in companies with connections to Myanmar’s military junta.

In a report, they said financial institutions, mainly large groups such as Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui, JPMorgan Chase, UBS and Credit Suisse, add more than $ 35 billion in investments in companies with ties or under the direct control of Myanmar’s army.

“The international banks we have highlighted have clear human rights responsibilities. The military’s ruthless campaign of terror is made possible by their economic interests and the banks play a crucial role,” Yadanar Maung, spokesman for Justice for Myanmar, said in a statement.

Hannah Greep, of BankTrack, said banks that do not divest could be considered “accomplices” in the crimes of the military, which has violently repressed pro-democracy protesters since the Feb. 1 coup.

The report points to two types of companies: those with economic interests in companies directly linked to the military and those linked to Myanmar state companies under junta control.

Among the first, whom the organizations urged to cancel investments, are India’s Bharat Electronics, which supplies defense material to Myanmar’s Army, South Korea’s POSCO, American hotel group Hilton, Hong Kong’s Shangri-la and Japan’s Tokyo Tatemono.

Examples of multinationals with investments linked to Myanmar state-owned companies, on which it is recommended to suspend or review investments, are the United States’ Chevron and Shell, Total from France, Malaysia’s Petronas and PTT from Thailand.

On Wednesday night, Chevron and Total said they will not share profits for the exploitation of a gas pipeline in Myanmar in which they participate with Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, controlled by the Myanmar Army, due to the “unstable context” in the country.

The organizations said both the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the United Nations’ ethical principles say international investors, including banks, have a responsibility to use their investments to pressure, prevent or mitigate human rights abuses.

In a 2019 report, UN experts urged foreign companies not to do business with military conglomerates Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited and Myanmar Economic Corporation, as this could help the army commit “serious violations of human rights with impunity.”

Myanmar’s army launched military operations in 2016 and 2017 against the Rohingya Muslim minority, causing thousands of deaths and the exodus of more than 800,000 people to neighboring Bangladesh. A trial for alleged genocide during the events is ongoing at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The military have also been accused by the Myanmar pro-democracy movement of having killed at least 827 people, including 73 minors, since the coup. EFE


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