Boycott Myanmar Campaign Launch
London, UK: On the 9th December 2019, International Genocide Day, 30 human rights, academic and professional organizations from 10 countries jointly launched an international “Boycott Myanmar Campaign” in order to bring to bear economic, cultural, diplomatic and political pressure on Myanmar’s coalition government of Aung San Suu Kyi and the military.
The launch of the campaign coincides with the arrival in the Hague of Myanmar’s de facto head of state, Suu Kyi, as she attempts to defend the country against allegations of genocide in the opening sessions of The Gambia vs Myanmar at the ICJ from 10 through 12 December.
*Aung San Suu Kyi, centre, prepares to board a flight from Naypyidaw on Sunday © AFP via Getty Images*
The Burmese Nobel Peace Prize recipient has been condemned worldwide for her shocking denials and dismissals of well-documented evidence and victims’ first-hand testimonies of the violent genocidal purge of nearly 1 million Rohingyas by the Myanmar government and its state organs, including the Burmese Armed Forces since October 2016.
Nay San Lwin, the Germany-based co-founder of the Free Rohingya Coalition and one of the initiators of the campaign, says, “the United Nations International Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar have unequivocally stated that Myanmar, my ancestral country of birth and citizenship, has adopted policies of intentional destruction of my own Rohingya ethnic community. As Rohingya rights activists, we campaigned hard for the release of Daw Suu throughout her 15-years of captivity by the Burmese military. Since her release she has only used her freedom to collaborate with the murderous military.”
Nay adds, “on behalf of the Rohingya community of survivors, I therefore urge you to use your liberty and power, as citizens and consumers, both individually and as representatives/members of activist networks, religious communities, educational institutions, or professional or parliamentary associations, to cut any and all institutional and formal ties with Myanmar.”
In addition to the Fact-finding Mission’s damning findings of genocide against the Rohingya, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, has found that Myanmar is similarly engaged in state-directed military repression against its other national minorities such as Shan, Kachin, Ta’ang, Karen, Rakhine, and Chin communities.
The campaign begins with an online petition drive, urging the Norwegian Nobel Committee to strip Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace prize which was awarded to her 28 years ago, arguing that Myanmar civilian leader is “wholly unworthy” of the honor.
Dr Maung Zarni, a veteran Burmese human rights activist who led the Free Burma campaign as a student in the United States in the 1990s, says, “our new Boycott Myanmar campaign is inspired by the anti-apartheid consumer and cultural boycott and divestment in the 1980’s which contributed to the collapse of the apartheid. Apartheid was deemed a ‘crime against humanity’ by the United Nations. International campaigning helped free Nelson Mandela and his comrades from nearly three decades of imprisonment.”
Before its dissolution several months ago, the UN Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar had called for foreign investors to sever their business ties with the Burmese military and its cronies. The Boycott Myanmar Campaign intends to go beyond targeting the military and its international business ties, to send a strong, united message of denunciation and disapproval to the Burmese civil society. Groups such as former political prisoners’ networks, Buddhist monks and nuns, Burmese media outlets, university departments, lawyers’ associations, merchants’ associations etc. are currently serving as popular cheerleaders in support of the Myanmar government’s systematic destruction of Rohingya identity, history and physical existence, with mass rallies being held throughout Myanmar and in diaspora.
“I am a Burmese and a Buddhist from an extended military family in Mandalay. I unequivocally support this Boycott Myanmar campaign. My country of birth is like Nazi Germany of 1930’s. It is not only the Burmese military who pull the trigger on thousands of Rohingyas that are guilty of genocide, but also the public who view and treat Rohingyas in the same way the Nazi Germans discriminated, excluded and ostracized Jews and other national minorities” says Zarni, who first alerted the world to his country’s grave international crimes in 2013.
Among the initiators of the global campaign are the Free Rohingya Coalition, Forsea.co, Restless Beings, Destination Justice, Rohingya Human Rights Network of Canada, Rohingya Human Rights Initiative of India, and Asia Centre.