ITUC OnLine – October 9, 2007

Brussels, 9 October 2007 (ITUC OnLine) The ITUC and the European TUC today called on the European Union to take the lead by adopting tough sanctions on Burma following the latest round of violent repression there by the military junta. Europe currently has some sanctions in place, but these fall well short of the kind of pressure needed to convince the military that they must allow democracy to be realised.  Top of the sanctions list should be the oil and gas sector, which is the main source of international income for the junta. Any sanctions regime which does not include oil and gas would lack effectiveness and credibility according to the ITUC and ETUC.

“The real beneficiaries of any business links with Burma are the military.  They have total control over the country’s economy, and are using this to enrich themselves at the expense of the people.  Every business deal with Burma is in effect a support to what is one of the most vicious and oppressive regimes in the world, and the importance of this business to the Burmese generals is even more clear than ever now that they have renewed their long-standing efforts to force Aung San Suu Kyi to reverse the Burmese democracy movement’s call for global sanctions”, said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder.

The ITUC and ETUC are specifically calling for the EU to put in place:

  • A comprehensive ban on investing in Burma by all EU-registered companies and their subsidiaries as well as EU citizens, applying both to new investments and a requirement for divesting from existing business operations. This ban needs to cover all sectors including oil and gas, and include investment through joint-ventures, or similar arrangements, by EU-registered companies in all (not only “named”) Burmese state-owned companies;
  • A prohibition for all EU-registered companies from entering into joint-ventures or contracts or doing business with the military and state-owned entities;
  • A ban on the import into the EU of goods and services from Burma, and as a matter of particular urgency, a ban on import of those goods provided by entities owned and/or operated or produced by enterprises owned by or linked to the Burmese military, military personnel and/or their relatives – this must include a ban on those strategically important goods that are produced under a monopoly of the Burmese state, such as timber and gems;
  • A ban on international financial transfers and transactions to or from Burma by citizens, official entities or companies from the EU –  this needs to include a ban EU-based companies making, approving, financing, facilitating or guaranteeing international financial transactions with Burmese government-owned banks.
  • Actions to ensure that EU-originated arms are not sold to Burma via third countries, as is believed to have happened in the past; and,
  • A ban on extending export credits by EU governments to their companies in relation to any trade with or investment in Burma.

    ETUC General Secretary John Monks said: “It is clear that economic engagement does not help temper this regime.  EU Ministers now need to act decisively and agree tough measures to drive home to the generals the outrage of European workers and citizens”.