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Iran Press TV

UN warns foreign firms against doing business with Myanmar army

Iran Press TV

Mon Aug 5, 2019 03:01PM

The United Nations' investigators have urged foreign businesses and governments to sever ties with dozens of companies owned or controlled by Myanmar's military, which has carried out a campaign of ethnic cleansing, murder and rape of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, noting that such firms could be complicit in international crimes.

A panel of human rights experts, in a report released on Monday, identified scores of companies tied to the army, which is accused by the UN of involvement in a campaign with "genocidal intent" against the Rohingya minority.

They identified at least 59 foreign companies with some form of commercial ties to the Myanmar military, including firms from France, Belgium, Switzerland, Hong Kong and China. Of those, 15 operate joint ventures with the two military conglomerates or their subsidiaries.

The investigators also named 14 companies that have sold weapons and related equipment to security forces in the southeast Asian country since 2016, including entities in Israel, India, North Korea, and China.

The foreign firms doing business with them could be complicit in international crimes, the report said.

Any foreign business activity involving the army and its conglomerates "posts a high risk of contributing to, or being linked to, violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law," it added.

Panel chairman Marzuki Darusman, in an interview in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, said the purpose of the new report was to help countries cut financial ties with all army-linked companies.

"For the first time, this report comes out with a clear picture of the involvement of specific European and Asian companies, and makes a point that in fact there is this relationship and it's a violation of UN treaties and UN norms," he said.

"Corporations and individuals responsible within that corporation can be prosecuted," Darusman said, adding that the arms they provide allow the military to "continue their oppression to the Myanmar people."

According to the report, the military controls an extensive business empire that enables it to avoid accountability and conduct operations with impunity against ethnic groups, contributing to widespread human rights abuses.

The UN has already said top generals should be prosecuted for genocide and the International Criminal Court has begun a preliminary probe in that regard.

Myanmar's Rakhine State came to global attention in August 2017, when the military and Buddhist mobs started killing, raping, and torturing the minority group. Thousands were killed in that crackdown and more than 730,000 others fled across the border into Bangladesh.

Last year, a UN fact-finding mission said the campaign against the Rohingya was orchestrated with "genocidal intent."

The Rohingya had inhabited Rakhine for centuries.

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