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Rohingya activist urges companies to stop investing in Myanmar

February 21, 2017

Foreign companies need to stop investing in Myanmar in order to stop the country's discrimination against its Muslim minority Rohingya, a prominent Myanmar activist said Tuesday.

"We cannot force Western governments to put sanctions on Myanmar but we can talk to businesses," blogger and co-founder of the #WeAreAllRohingya online movement Ro Nay San Lwin told dpa.

"We want multinationals with business interests in Myanmar to put pressure on the government."

Asked about the impact on Myanmar if multinational companies refrain from investing, Ro Nay San Lwin said: "I don't want to hurt my fellow Burmese. But the situation is forcing us to convince businesses to stop investing in Myanmar."

Ro Nay San Lwin said he recently sent Unilever CEO Paul Polman an open letter encouraging his company to re-evaluate its role in the country. In December, Polman had co-signed a letter of concern to the UN Security Council highlighting the plight of the Rohingya.

In that letter, Polman, together with a number of Nobel laureates, had compared the violence against the Muslim minority to Rwanda's 1994 genocide, as well as ethnic cleansing in Sudan's western Darfur region, Bosnia and Kosovo.

The letter also called for the Myanmar government to lift all restrictions on humanitarian aid to Rakhine state.

At least 70,000 Rohingya have left Myanmar over the last few months. They blame the Myanmar military of committing human rights abuses such as rape, arson and torture against them. The UN has suggested the abuses might amount to crimes against humanity. 

The activists say they don't plan to attack companies if they fail to act.

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Rohingya Exodus