Corporations


Many corporations in Burma are involved in exploitation of the voiceless, human rights abuses, militarisation, and environmental and cultural destruction. This foreign investment has considerably contributed to entrenching the Burmese regime.

Foreign investment may promote economic development in a country, yet when the people themselves have no chance to participate in decision-making, there is a large risk that large-scale infrastructure projects such as the Shwe gas pipeline will adversely affect many communities.

Corporations and Brutal Regimes: A Bad Combination

Foreign corporations in Burma are predominantly involved in labour-intensive sectors, such as garment manufacturing and extractive industries. In the natural resource sector, their resource extraction projects are done only for the sake of shareholder profits, with little concern for local populations. While citizens suffer under the socio-economic, political, cultural and environmental impacts of these projects, the Burmese military junta and its corporate partners rake in the profits.

Be it oil and gas production in Burma, Nigeria [1] or Indonesia, [2] transnational corporations, national and foreign governments, and corrupt local officials make a profit while wreaking havoc among the communities who happen to live near these resources. Said communities rarely derive a benefit from such extraction projects. Even in countries with democratically elected governments, such projects often involve increased militarisation and large-scale human rights abuses.
Burma: A Worst-Case Scenario

What You Can Do to Help?

e, the SHWE Gas Movement, demand that the governments and corporations involved in the Shwe gas project postpone the extraction and sale of this gas until the people of Burma have a say in the use of their resources. Until the safety, livelihood, and security of the Burmese people can be guaranteed, this natural gas project will only serve to entrench a brutal regime and wreak further environmental havoc.

International bodies and their own national governments alone cannot discourage corporations from supporting the military regime. [7] Instead, global civic and social justice movements must increase awareness and put pressure on both governments and corporations to divest from Burma. And, ultimately, each individual has some power to pressure corporations to withdraw from Burma – as a consumer, you can boycott their products and thus send a clear message to CEOs and shareholders.
Learn more about the corporations involved in the Shwe Project:

* Daewoo Internationa (South Korea)
* Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprises (Burma)
* ONGC Videsh Limited/OVL (India)
* Gas Authority of India Ltd./GAIL (India)
* Korean Gas Corporation/KOGA (South Korea)

For a complete list of corporations with investments in and ties to the Burmese military regime, check out:

* The Global Union’s List
* The Burma Campaign UK’s “Dirty List”

Read more about:
* Government Stakeholders
* Peoples

Visit our Take Action section for more information on how you can make a difference in the ongoing SHWE Gas Movement!

Yet Burma is what could be called a ‘worst-case scenario’. Here, the country’s military regime, which has been in power since 1962 and rejected the overwhelming victory of the National League for Democracy in 1990 national elections, sells off the country’s natural resources to foreign governments and corporations, and thereby assures its own brutal and undemocratic existence.

Despite many high-profile reports by inter-governmental organisations such as the United Nations [3] and non-governmental organisations such as Amnesty International,  [4] and subsequent international condemnation, sanctioning and investment bans, hundreds of foreign corporations continue to invest in the country. [5]

Corporations investing in Burma have been condemned internationally for sustaining a regime that has oppressed its people for decades, with tens of thousands of casualties from the world’s longest-lasting civil war. This is a country whose citizens face overt political oppression, extra judicial killings, the widespread forced labour practices. In the context of infrastructure development, it is not uncommon for whole villages to be relocated without compensation. The presence of the military in ethnic areas also leads to the widely reported incidents of sexual violence against women.

Many of these human rights abuses also occur in the oil and gas sector. Since Burma opened to foreign investment in late 1988, contracted investment in the oil and gas sector has so far reached 2.563 billion dollars, [source?] thus providing the financial resources that continue to keep the generals in Rangoon in power. Investing in Burma comes with a risk, though: Unocal and Total, who constructed the Yadana and Yetagun pipelines, currently face law suits in American and European courts, because of their involvement with the Burmese military and related large-scale human rights abuses. [6]

Investment in and profit from the Shwe gas project are said to become the single largest source of foreign income for the regime in Rangoon, thus further ensuring its illegal existence. Daewoo International signed an exploration contract for the A1 block with the military-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise/MOGE in August 2000. Subsequently, it sold off shares to ONGC Videsh Limited/OVL on January 28, 2002 (20%), the Gas Authority of India Ltd. (GAIL) on January 28, 2002 (10%),  and the Korean Gas Corporation (KOGAS) in November 2001.

Sources:
[1] http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/nigeria/
[2] http://www.amnestyusa.org/actioncenter/actions/action2474.pdf
[3] http://www.hri.ca/fortherecord1997/vol3/burma.htm
[4] http://www.amnestyusa.org/countries/myanmar_burma/reports.doc
[5] http://www.global-unions.org/burma
[a] http://www.business-humanrights.org/Categories/IndividualCompanies;
[b] http://www.global-unions.org/burma
[6] http://www.icai-online.org/46139,Index.html
[7] The American corporation Unocal, for example, has invested a considerable amount in the Yadana pipeline project, despite sanctions and investment bans passed on Burma by the US Government.