Govt Rejects UN Report Calling for Boycott of Military-Tied Companies

By The Irrawaddy 6 August 2019

YANGON—The Myanmar government said on Tuesday it “categorically rejects” the UN fact-finding mission (FFM)’s latest report urging the international community to impose sanctions on companies linked to Myanmar’s military, saying the report is “an action intended to harm the interests of Myanmar and its people.”

The report released on Monday listed nearly 60 foreign firms operating in Myanmar that have business ties to the Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw). It also included 45 local businesses for donations totaling over US$10 million (15.1 billion kyats) to the military during the first few weeks of its 2017 clearance operations against the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army in Rakhine State—operations widely condemned since as ethnic cleansing.

The report accuses those companies of at the very least contributing to the military’s financial capacity to carry out human rights violations, particularly in ethnic areas like Kachin, Shan and Rakhine states.

On Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry reiterated its view that the UN Human Rights Council exceeded its mandate and contravened the terms and practices of international law by setting up the fact finding mission. Myanmar has opposed the investigatory body since it was formed in 2017, saying its creation was based on unfounded allegations. “We have made our position abundantly clear and we do not recognize the report of the FFM,” the ministry said in a statement.

Regarding the latest report, the ministry said: “We do not believe that such an action contributes in any way to the resolution of the challenges that the nation faces in Rakine State.”

“We believe it is through the promotion of rule of law and sustainable development that the challenges in Rakhine will be resolved. Our immediate aim is to concentrate on building social cohesion and creating a secure, prosperous environment where the people of Rakhine can live in peace and harmony,” the statement reads.

The ministry said the government is addressing the issue of accountability in Rakhine through the Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICoE). The military has also established its own Commission of Enquiry to address the allegation of human rights violations in northern Rakhine.

“Thus Myanmar already has in place its national accountability mechanism. We oppose mechanisms that are set up without allowing for national remedies to be exhausted,” it added.

The fact-finding mission called in its previous report, issued last year, for the prosecution of the country’s military chief and other senior generals for allegedly committing genocide against the Rohingya. The government rejected the call, questioning the mission’s objectivity, impartiality and sincerity.