The human rights pressure group Burma Campaign UK has published a so-called ‘dirty list’ of companies continuing to do business with the military in Burma. Facebook, Toshiba, and VISA are amongst the 49 international companies that are ‘named and shamed’ for links to the Burmese military’s human rights abuses of Burma’s Rohingya Muslim population.
In a statement realised online, Burma Campaign UK said that their publication of the list was done “in order to highlight the role of international companies in assisting the military to continue to commit human rights violations, and to highlight the role of international companies which operate in the country in a way that contributes to human rights violations and environmental destruction.” They further stated that the list is “an ongoing project,” that will be “regularly updated.”
Burma Campaign UK is a non-governmental organization that works to promote ‘”human rights, democracy, and development” in Burma. It is particularly concerned with revealing and addressing abuses committed by the Burmese military. The organization is also critical of the Burmese Prime Minister, Aung San Suu Kyi, for human rights abuses such as the marginalization of ethnic minorities, imprisonment of journalists and harsh sentencing of peaceful protestors. The organization also urges the referral of Burma to the International Criminal Court for investigation of accusations of a genocide of its Rohingya Muslim population in 2017.
The ‘dirty list’ that was released on Monday names some of the world’s largest companies as ones that are continuing to provide vital services to the Burmese military. The companies named span the world, with names included from the U.S.A., UK, France, Switzerland, China, India, Japan, Korea, Belgium, Russia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
Facebook is one of three American companies named. The list accuses the world’s fifth-largest company as having “allowed its platform to be used to incite hatred and violence of minorities in Burma.” Facebook’s hosting of the official Burmese government and military pages is cited as a particular concern. These pages have been used to circulate images such as a ‘Fake Rape’ poster, which denied independently verified claims of rape of Rohingya women by the Burmese military. In a statement to The Guardian, Facebook said: “We have invested heavily in people, technology and partnerships to examine and address the abuse of Facebook in Myanmar.” Along with banning 20 Burmese individuals and organizations from using Facebook, it also confirmed that it had “taken down pages and accounts that were covertly pushing the messages of the Myanmar military.”
16 of the companies named are Chinese. Organizations such as the Aviation Industry Corporation of China and China Aerospace Science and Technology are accused of selling missiles, drones, and arms to the Burmese military.
Burma Campaign UK’s publication of this list is an important part of its campaign to raise awareness of the international implications of Burmese politics. The list’s identification of companies from across the world makes it clear that the political situation in Burma is sustained by global roots. In particular, the list’s identification of two UK companies should have particular relevance for an organization that aims to influence and change the direction of UK Burmese policy.