Press Release: Embargoed For: 31st October 2019; 9am US ET
Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK), Burma Campaign UK, and International Campaign for the Rohingya
On the eve of Western Union announcing its 3rd quarter results, Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK), Burma Campaign UK, International Campaign for the Rohingya, and 33 other organizations today called on Western Union to end its business relationship with Burma’s military. The Burmese military has been accused by United Nations investigators of being responsible for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
Western Union is in a business relationship with a military-owned bank in Burma, which it uses as one of its agents in the country. Myawaddy Bank is a subsidiary of a giant military business conglomerate called Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd (UMEHL). Profits from Myawaddy Bank benefit the military.
The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar (also known as Burma), set up by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate human rights violations in Burma, has called for sanctions on military-owned companies and for companies not to do business with the military.
To date, Western Union has not responded to approaches by Burma Campaign UK and the International Campaign for the Rohingya regarding its business relationship with the Burmese military.
“Western Union’s business partner in Burma, the Burmese military, has raped thousands of Rohingya women and killed hundreds of Rohingya children. Western Union is funding the military that committed genocide against my people. How can any company claim to be ethical when they help pay for genocide?” stated Tun Khin, President of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK).
“There are plenty of alternative non-military companies in Burma with which Western Union can partner in Burma,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “There is no justification for putting money into the pockets of Burma’s brutal military.”
“Western Union CEO Hikmet Ersek is admirable for speaking out for the rights of refugees. However, Western Union has partnered with Burma’s army that forced over 700,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh, creating the world’s largest group of refugees,” stated Simon Billenness, Executive Director of the International Campaign for the Rohingya and Campaign Director of No Business With Genocide. “But by partnering with Burma’s genocidal generals, Western Union puts at risk the reputation of its company and its top executives.”
For more information contact:
President, Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK)
Mobile (UK): +44 (0)7888714866
Executive Director, International Campaign for the Rohingya
Campaign Director, No Business With Genocide
Mobile (US): 617-596-6158
On its website, Western Union calls a Myawaddy Bank branch “MWD Mandalay,” even though the address is that of a Myawaddy Bank Branch.
The Myawaddy Bank website states: “Using Western Union at Myawaddy Bank is a straightforward with a guranteed [sic] service.”
For More Information:
“The economic interests of the Myanmar military,” United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission, September 2019
“Resetting Myanmar Policy,” Global Witness, September 2019
Organizational signers of the letter to Western Union
|Action Committee for Democracy Development|
|Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters- HRDP|
|Association Suisse Birmanie (Swiss Burma Association)|
|Burma Campaign UK|
|Burma Task Force|
|Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK)|
|Dana Investment Advisors|
|Free Burma Campaign (South Africa)|
|Friends Fiduciary Corporation|
|Fund Our Future|
|Independent Old Catholic Church, Office of Ecumenical, Interfaith, and Global Engagement|
|Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion|
|International Campaign for the Rohingya|
|International Center for Rights and Justice|
|International Interfaith Peace Corps|
|Investors Against Genocide|
|Justice For All|
|Karen Organization of America|
|Never Again Coalition|
|No Business With Genocide|
|Partners Relief and Development UK|
|Pax Christi Metro New York|
|SharePower Responsible Investing|
|Swedish Burma Committee|
|Unitarian Universalist Service Committee|
|US Campaign for Burma|