A Myanmar rights group has strongly condemned American multinational energy corporation Chevron’s efforts to lobby the US government to withdraw sanctions on oil and gas businesses owned by Myanmar’s military junta.
“By continuing its work in Burma, Chevron is offering a lifeline to the military to continue the transport of troops to kill and detain protesters, the launching of artillery in civilian areas, and the use of fighter jets to bomb civilian areas in Kachin and Karen state,” the Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) said in a statement issued on Friday.
“Sanctions on the military’s interests, particularly on energy, are one of the only ways the international community can limit the military’s access to foreign cash and limit their ability to purchase the military equipment and fuel they rely on to terrorize the civilian population.”
Amid growing rights abuses in Myanmar, the US, along with the UK and the EU, imposed sanctions on a military junta that has killed hundreds of people during protests against its Feb. 1 coup against the democratically elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi.
The London-based BHRN cited a report by leading American daily The New York Times that said Chevron has “lobbied congressmen and the US State Department against sanctioning military-tied companies in the oil and gas sector because it would disrupt Chevron’s operations in the country.”
“It is utterly disgraceful that Chevron would use their power to protect their own bottom line while civilians are being murdered in the street by [Myanmar] security forces they are directly funding,” said Kyaw Win, the executive director of the BHRN.
He called on US authorities to “completely disregard” Chevron’s lobbying efforts and “sanction all of the Burmese military’s business interests, especially in the oil and gas sector.”
“Chevron should immediately reconsider its behavior and reevaluate its prioritization of profit over human life and democracy,” he said.
The rights group stressed that any business that aids the Myanmar military in maintaining power is “directly responsible for the death of civilians.”
“All businesses invested in Burma must reevaluate their ethical positions in the country and build alliances with the civilian movements of Burma to establish equitable relationships with the country once the military is forced to step down,” read the statement.
“With significantly limited access to cash amid ongoing conflict, the Burmese military is spreading itself thin. The international community has an opportunity to ramp up the pressure now and prevent conflict from dramatically escalating in the coming months by showing the military that their coup is unsustainable.”
By Md. Kamruzzaman in Dhaka, Bangladesh