Photo: AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo

Karen Women’s Group Calls for Boycott of Companies’ Linked to Burma’s Military

The Karen Women’s Organization (KWO) put out a statement calling the people of Burma and international communities in the country to boycott products of companies linked to Burma’s military.

The KWO statement issued on February 18, 2020 urged for a ban on products made by military companies and called on foreign embassies and donors in Burma to make sure their money does not reach military companies.

The KWO pointed out that for decades, “the Burma Army has been able to profit from businesses through their stronghold, power and influence in the sector and despite international scrutiny for their human rights record – they continue to earn a steady, and lucrative income.”

Naw K’nyaw Paw, general secretary of the KWO told Karen News it is important people are politically aware and joined the fight against this powerful institution.

“Every ordinary people of Burma can take part in this fight.” Naw K’nyaw Paw said. “We can make choices not to consume products of companies with links to the military. If we continue buying products from these military linked companies, our money will end up in the pockets of these companies and that means we are supporting the military.”

Naw K’nyaw Paw said profits made from these businesses meant that the military could buy more weapons and sustain their power over the country. If more people took a stand, Naw K’nyaw Paw said this would put pressure on the military.

The KWO statement said “From January 29th to the 11th of February…the Burma Army shelled more than 126 mortars into villages in Mutraw areas. Burmese soldiers were also responsible for burning down more than 40 farms belonging to innocent civilians.”

The KWO statement follows a boycott list published by Burma Campaign UK on January 2020 containing lists of products and brands produced by Burmese military-owned companies. The list included 149 products and brands, covering a wide range of sectors from banking, communication, construction, media, entertainment, agricultural and trade.

The 149 products and brands listed included well-know Myanmar beers, Dagon Beverages and Mandalay beer in food and drink sector, MECtel and Mytel in the communication sector, Myawaddy bank and Mytel pay in banking and finance sector.

The Burma Campaign UK said the aim of publishing boycott lists’ is to provide public information for individuals, embassies, donors, aid agencies, and companies to help them avoid purchasing goods and services that benefit the military.

The KWO statement supported the boycott and said the list “brings more visibility to the excessive involvement that the Burma Army has in corporations and services in the country while recognizing it as an important step to make it easier for embassies, international aid departments, corporations, NGOs and individuals to refrain from purchasing goods from these companies and affiliates.

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