The following is a template developed by the Pax Christi Asia-Pacific Facilitation Team. It is designed for adaptation and use in national and regional contexts by our members and partners in their ongoing response to the military coup in Myanmar. As a starting point, you may wish to consult this Reuters list of companies and sectors active in Myanmar, send a letter to corporate social responsibility officers along with chief executives and boards of directors. We recommend sharing your action on social media and tagging Pax Christi International.
Dear (INSERT COMPANY NAME/CEO HERE)
Through this letter we bring to your attention the worrying situation in Myanmar. We ask that through your leadership we take action to ensure that your company is fully respecting business and human rights standards in all of its activities in Myanmar.
On 1 February 2021, the Myanmar military (also known as Tatmadaw), declared a “state of emergency” to remove a legitimately elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD). Also detained are civil society activists, monks, and civilian, tearing down a decade of democratic reform in the process. Violence is escalating and Myanmar have left hundreds of people dead in their wake, including children, for nonviolently advocating for their civil and human rights.
As (INSERT ORGANISATION NAME AND DESCRIPTION HERE), we are deeply troubled by these developments in Myanmar. The coup is a brutal attack on progress toward stability and democracy, the people of Myanmar, and their hopes for their society. We are deeply concerned that this coup will further reinforce ethno-religious nationalism in Myanmar, including the atrocities committed against the Rohingya.
Myanmar already suffers from severely limited press and media freedom. The revocation of licenses from five independent outlets by the junta further limits citizen’s access to news. This contributes to a growing atmosphere of repression where urgent international action is required in addition to diplomacy and the Civil Disobedience Movement.
We call on international corporations active in Myanmar to act now to end support of the Tatmadaw and work to restore peace and democracy through nonviolent means. Resource extraction, energy production, collaboration on importing consumer goods, operating franchises of international hotel and clothing chains, are among major foreign business interests in Myanmar.
We urge your company to ensure the following actions are taken:
- Carry out rigorous human rights and environmental due diligence throughout operations, supply chains and utilized services and stop business activities that lead to human rights violations or potential human rights violations in Myanmar.
- Respect business, human rights and environmental standards, including the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and to take the growing global support for such standards into account, which can be reflected by the current negotiations for an UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights and the upcoming EU legislation on mandatory due diligence legislation for businesses in the field of human rights and the environment.
- End existing business relationships with the military and ensure that it does not profit from any business activities. Ensure your products and services do not contribute to human rights abuses.
- Support the civil rights of workers and their participation in mass actions for the restoration of democracy. Follow International Labour Organization standards and conventions, including the Declaration on the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, which affirms the role of “strong social policies, justice and democratic institutions” in ensuring “equity, social progress and the eradication of poverty.”
Such direct, clear, and nonviolent action contributes to the restoration of democracy and peace in Myanmar, however tenuous. Through the combined power of corporate responsibility, citizen mobilization, and international civil society advocacy, we hope that the people of Myanmar will soon see the full protection of their human rights. A democratic and stable Myanmar provides conditions for sustainable economic growth and openness to trade and international partnerships. Supporting the people of Myanmar through your actions today, makes way for the flourishing of all tomorrow.
With thanks for consideration of these requests,
Photo: Workers 2 Yes garment factory Yangon Myanmar March 2018 by IndustriALL Global Union via Flickr (CC 2.0)