JAKARTA – ASEAN member states must impose targeted financial sanctions against all Myanmar Army-owned companies and anyone contributing or benefiting economically from them, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) said today.
“It is shameful that companies in Southeast Asia are providing economic benefit to an army that stands accused of genocide and crimes against humanity. ASEAN has been unable to take any meaningful measures to respond to the Tatmadaw’s international crimes, but this is one step that member states and private business can and must take,” said Charles Santiago, Member of Parliament in Malaysia and APHR Board Chair.
“These companies run the risk of contributing to the human rights abuses perpetrated by the military in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states. It is simple; no businesses in the region should enter into any commercial relationship with the Myanmar Army, or any enterprise owned or controlled by them.”
On Monday, the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission (IFFM) on Myanmar issued a report on “The economic interests of the Myanmar military,” highlighting the foreign companies with commercial ties to the Myanmar Army. According to the report, 15 foreign companies have joint ventures and at least 44 have other forms of commercial ties with Myanmar Army businesses. Several of them are domiciled in Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia. In addition, a firm based in the Philippines sold military equipment to the Myanmar Army well-after the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people.
The regional grouping of parliamentarians said pressure needed to be brought on those companies in ASEAN member states that continue to do business with the Myanmar Army, stressing that the onus was on those private companies to review their ties in Myanmar and take the necessary actions, as much as it was on the region’s governments.
“ASEAN governments and private companies should take the findings and recommendations of this UN report very seriously and take immediate corrective action. It is totally scandalous that some ASEAN countries have permitted the transfer of arms to the Myanmar Army in full knowledge of the crimes it is committing against its people. For once, ASEAN needs to look beyond its economic interests and take a coordinated approach towards accountability and justice by imposing a comprehensive arms embargo on Myanmar,” said Teddy Baguilat, former Philippine parliamentarian and APHR Board Member.