Welcome for BAT decision to pull out of Burma
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has welcomed the British American Tobacco (BAT) decision to pull out of its investment in Burma.
BAT was the largest single British investor in Burma and pressure had been put on the company by the UK government and a coalition of groups to get it to pull out.
The Burma Campaign UK and the Federation of Trade Unions (Burma) led a strong campaign to persuade the company to abandon its investment in the country which CSW supported.
BATís investment generated an estimated £250,000 in profit per year for the Burmese military regime and at least 40 percent of this money is believed to have been spent on arms. BAT has today announced the sale of its share of the cigarette making operation to a partner based in Singapore.
Prime Minister Tony Blair had criticised BAT for continuing to work with the military junta which continues to keep Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest. The UK government formally asked BAT to leave Burma in July this year.
CSW is urging supporters to write to their MP in a bid to strengthen the EU Common Position on Burma, which is due for review in April 2004.
CSW will also continue to urge Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to push for investment sanctions to be included in the EU Common Position and if agreement cannot be reached at an EU level, is calling for the UK to take the lead to implement economic sanctions unilaterally.
The organisation is also requesting that the military regime of Burma be brought before the UN Security Council, that the UN Secretary General fully implements the resolutions on Burma passed by successive sessions of the UN General Assembly and works towards the implementation of resolutions passed by the International Labour Organisation at its 2000 conference.
Tina Lambert, CSWís Advocacy Director said: ìWe are pleased by the news of BATís decision to withdraw from its investment in Burma. For the sake of all those suffering under this regime, it is vital that any remaining investments are also withdrawn.î
CSW conducts regular fact-finding visits to the Thai/Burma border to gather evidence of the serious human rights abuses perpetrated by the State Peace and Development Council, chiefly against the non-Burman ethnic civilian populations.
These campaigns include mass scale forced labour, the use of humans as mine sweepers, military offensives against civilians, forced relocation programmes, extensive and indiscriminate use of landmines, rape, mass killing, shooting on sight, the destruction of villages and crops, extortion, and generally denying ethnic populations their basic means of subsistence.