Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Sunday pointed out the double-standard approach of some of the countries that are vocal on human rights issues but encouraging investment in Myanmar where human rights are grossly violated.
An analysis conducted by BankTrack and Justice For Myanmar has found that nine internationally operating banks have invested over US$24 billion in 18 companies that have either direct and longstanding commercial ties to Myanmar's military or to state entities that the military is attempting to control as a result of the coup.
“It’s in no way acceptable,” Dr Momen told reporters referring to that investment expressing displeasure over the role of the countries who speak loudly on human rights issues.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, JPMorgan Chase, UBS, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and BNP Paribas are among the top banks investing in companies linked to the Myanmar military junta, according to Justice for Myanmar.
Dr Momen said the banks are giving the money when human rights are violated in Myanmar. “You should ask them (ambassadors of those countries) why they are giving money to Myanmar.”
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG), JPMorgan Chase, UBS, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and BNP Paribas were all identified as having shareholdings worth over US$1 billion in the 18 companies, it said.
MUFG alone holds shares in these companies worth over US$5 billion, with SMFG and JPMorgan Chase not far behind, holding shares worth over US$4 billion each.
Significantly, Goldman Sachs holds 5.7% of shares in Bharat Electronics which provides military equipment to Myanmar. All of these banks have a responsibility to act and to account for how they are doing so.
Yadanar Maung, Justice For Myanmar’s spokesperson, said the international banks they have highlighted have clear human rights responsibilities.
“The military's relentless campaign of terror is enabled by its business interests and the banks play a crucial role. Investors must divest from companies that repeatedly fail to act to uphold its responsibilities. It has taken too long for these businesses and banks to act. Unless they act urgently, they’ll fail the people of Myanmar.”
These banks have continued their investments despite the Myanmar junta's campaign of terror that has involved the murder of more than 820 people since the February coup and indiscriminate airstrikes in ethnic areas. These abuses are financed by international businesses.
Justice For Myanmar called on banks to act by divesting from companies linked to the military before the February 1 coup and using their leverage to ensure that investee companies linked to the military as a result of the coup suspend payments.