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Stakeholders press energy companies doing business with Myanmar to address Rohingya crisis
Investors with more than $53 billion in assets sign letters calling for an end to ‘business as usual’ in light of military crackdown
Falls Church, Va., 10/23/17 — A group of investors and stakeholders has called on energy companies doing business in Myanmar/Burma to reassess their dealings in light of that country’s brutal military crackdown on its ethnic Rohingya minority.
Organized by the International Campaign for the Rohingya and Azzad Asset Management, letters signed by 31 investor organizations representing more than $53 billion in assets under management were sent to executives at six oil and gas companies, emphasizing the serious risks of doing business with the Myanmar regime. Commodities make up a majority of Myanmar’s exports and are often controlled in whole or part by the armed forces.
Simon Billenness, Executive Director of the International Campaign for the Rohingya said, “Corporations that do business in Burma are supporting a government engaged in ethnic cleansing and possibly even genocide against the Rohingya. The oil companies in Burma must take affirmative steps to avoid complicity in these crimes against humanity.”
In addition to citing the moral obligation to address the humanitarian situation in Myanmar, the letters express concern about the potential risks to investments in the country as well as harm to corporate reputations stemming from doing business with a regime engaged in what the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has characterized as “a textbook case of ethnic cleansing.”
The letter to oil companies states in part:
“We believe that [your] operations and investment in Myanmar and relationships with both the government and the state-owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise creates a special obligation for [your company] to both express its concern over recent events and to reassess its relationship with the government in light of the Burmese government’s recent military actions against Rohingya communities. We cannot maintain ‘business as usual’ in a country where allegations of crimes against humanity and genocide persist.”
Companies receiving the letter were China National Offshore Oil Corporation, Daewoo, PetroChina, Petronas, Total, and Woodside Petroleum.
In August, an investor coalition representing more than $30 billion in assets sent a similar letter to Chevron Corp., which also operates in Burma.
For decades, the Rohingya ethnic minority in Myanmar have been subject to a government-sanctioned campaign of forced relocation, violence, and persecution. In 2012, Burmese military forces moved more than 120,000 Rohingya from their homes into detention camps. Human rights observers report that the Myanmar military has carried out campaigns of mass rape and killing of Rohingya civilians, including children.
The recent Burmese army crackdown on the Rohingya has caused an estimated 500,000 Rohingya refugees to flee to neighboring Bangladesh, triggering a humanitarian and refugee crisis.
About International Campaign for the Rohingya
The International Campaign for the Rohingya advocates and amplifies the voice of the Rohingya with international organizations, governments, corporations, and civil society. Its mission is to help the Rohingya secure peace, security, and their rights wherever they reside. Through the “No Business With Genocide” campaign, the International Campaign for the Rohingya puts pressure on corporations in Burma to be a force for preventing genocide and mass atrocities against the Rohingya.
About Azzad Asset Management
Azzad Asset Management is a socially responsible registered investment advisor committed to providing investment services designed to help people enjoy optimum performance without compromising their values. Azzad believes that companies operating in ethical lines of business offer relatively less business risk and are in a better position to thrive in the long term. Azzad is a member of the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, and the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions. The firm is based in Falls Church, Virginia.
International Campaign for the Rohingya: Simon Billenness, Executive Director, 617-596-6158 (cell),[email protected]
Azzad Asset Management: Investment Communications Director Joshua Brockwell, 703-207-7005, ext. 109 (office), 571-970-8695 (cell), [email protected]; Amina Rubin, 703-207-7005, ext. 120, [email protected]