Financial flows to Myanmar army must stop – Pension Fund ABP needs to act

dinsdag 1 februari 2022

It is 1 year since the coup in Myanmar. A bloody year has followed during which those who have protested against the takeover, a great many of whom have been women and young people, have paid a high price. More than 11,600 people have been arrested and nearly 1,500 people killed, many of them children. A further 377,000 people have been displaced and 14 million people are in humanitarian need.

Myanmar army received half a billion dollars from TotalEnergies
Total and Chevron finally reached their conclusions/made up their mind last week, announcing their departure from Myanmar. The reason: the -ongoing deterioration of the human rights situation. The people of Myanmar have been pushing for this since the start of the coup. The oil and gas sector, as the lifeline of the military regime, had to be cut. The UN Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar has also been pushing for sanctions against the oil and gas sector in Myanmar. Total and Chevron continued however to make up excuses, helping the military to earn more than half a billion dollars. This made the oil and gas sector the largest source of foreign income for the military. This means that Total and Chevron can be directly linked to the serious human rights violations in Myanmar that have taken place in the last year.

The positive role investors can play
A number of investors in Total, including major pension funds and insurers, took action after the Fair Finance Guide asked them to do so. They urged Total to put the income from the gas fields in a deposit to be used by a legitimate government in the future. Total indicated that investor pressure was a reason to finally withdraw from Myanmar. This change of course is positive. It is important however, that Total behaves responsibly and persuades the remaining partner PTT not to continue the financial flows to the army.

ABP needs to act
After the withdrawal of Total and Chevron, Thai oil and gas company PTT will soon be the only foreign partner in a joint oil and gas project, Yadana. Income from this project could  still end up with the army. The South Korean steel and gas company Posco is another company that also  still finances the military. In April last year, Posco partially cut ties with the Myanmar state-owned company MEHL, following sanctions announced by the US and pressure from investors. Among these investors that put pressure on Posco was the ABP pension fund, as reported by them in a press release. Posco's gas operations in Myanmar (86 percent of the total revenue of Posco in Myanmar), have however  continued, meaning so too have payments to the military.

ABP invests in both PTT and Posco and has indicated that it is engaging with both. Through this engagement the pension fund must encourage concrete action to be taken. At the very least, PTT and Posco's earnings in Myanmar should be put in a deposit, to be used only by a future democratic government. If that is not possible, than leaving is the only option.  

Sanctions against the oil and gas sector remain necessary
After Total and Chevron's announcement it is not only the aforementioned companies and investors that need to reconsider their investments. It is crucial that the EU and the US now finally impose sanctions against the oil and gas sector in Myanmar in order to force companies to stop the financial flow to the military regime.

ABP: we count on you.
It took TotalEnergies a year to realize that providing revenue to a regime responsible for crimes against humanity is not the best investment. Let's hope other companies and investors will now follow soon. The people of Myanmar have been waiting too long.


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