One year after a coup d’état ousted the democratically elected government, UNI Global Union is renewing demands on banks to divest from shareholdings in companies linked to the military junta in Myanmar.
Some 1,500 people have been killed, including more than a hundred children, since the army seized control of the country on 1 February 2021. A further 11,500 people have been arrested, including many political and trade union figures, and dozens of anti-coup activists have been sentenced to death.
On 21 January, French energy giants Chevron and TotalEnergies, became the latest companies to withdraw from Myanmar due to the worsening human rights violations and the deteriorating rule of law in the country.
“One year on, as the horrific human rights violations in Myanmar continue day after day, banks with investments linked to the military regime are starting to look increasingly isolated and irresponsible,” said UNI General Secretary, Christy Hoffman.
“If major energy companies like Chevron and Total, which have billions of dollars at stake, can pull out of Myanmar, it begs the question how these banks can justify their financial investments in such a brutal and barbaric regime.”
In July last year, UNI wrote to several multinational banks, including Credit Suisse and UBS in Switzerland, and Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo in the USA, asking them to urgently divest from their shareholdings in the country following the coup.
The banks have at least US$1 billion invested in shareholdings in companies that have direct or longstanding commercial ties to the Myanmar’s military or links to state entities that the military is controlling as a result of the coup.
UNI and its finance sector affiliates around the world have continued to lobby banks in an effort to encourage a responsible divestment from their shareholdings in companies tied to the military regime.
As the international pressure for all businesses, including those in the financial sector, to reassess their involvement in Myanmar continues to grow, we expect all banks and other financial institutions to live up to their responsibilities to protect Human Rights in Myanmar. Together with the ITUC and the rest of the global trade union movement, UNI calls on trade unions around the world to play their part in supporting the struggle for democracy in Myanmar by;