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Call for The Thai government, state enterprises and concerned agencies urged to suspend investment and financial assistance to businesses affiliated to the Myanmar Army to prevent human rights violation

27 March 2021

The Thai government, state enterprises and concerned agencies urged to suspend investment and financial assistance to businesses affiliated to the Myanmar Army to prevent human rights violation

Dear the Prime Minister and the Cabinet,

Governor of the Bank of Thailand

Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand

State Enterprise Policy Office

Director of the Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (Public Organization)

Director General of the Department of International Economic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Director General of the Rights and Liberties Protection Department

National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT)

The coup makers by the Myanmar Army have overthrown and seized power from a democratically elected government since 1 February 2021, for already two months. In the wake of the seizure of power, a number of arrests and detentions have been made against politicians, political activists, media, civil society organizations, students, and members of the public who have joined the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) throughout the country, Many people have been killed including children and youth, and other people as reported by news outlets worldwide. This constitutes a gross human rights violation. According to reports on 25 March 2021 by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), since the military coup took place, more than 2,981 people have been arrested, and more than 320 people have died, and the situation looks set to get exacerbated.

The outrageously violent situation in Myanmar has prompted countries around the world to condemn and impose economic and investment sanctions and bar businesspersons from their countries to have any interaction in any venture with links to the Myanmar Army. Thailand has been a major trade partner of Myanmar for a long time. According to statistics of investment of the Myanmar’s Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA), as of March 2021, Thailand ranks no. 6 in terms of the value of foreign direct investment in Myanmar, and according to the Myanmar Investment Law, Thailand ranks no, 3 in terms of the value of investment in the Special Economic Zone Law which has a significant impact on the Myanmar’s economy. Despite the military coup, it has been reported that the Thai government and some Thai companies continue to push through their projects with no consideration of the political situation and human rights violation domestically. This gesture stands contrary to the overwhelming demand of the people of Myanmar who urge that foreign businesses refrain from investing and collaborating with the Myanmar Army during this time. It could also constitute a breach to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) which has been adopted by Thailand and the cabinet has passed a resolution to adopt it. The UNGP has eventually been integrated into the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP) adopted since late 2019.

We, the Extraterritorial Obligation Watch Coalition (ETOs Watch Coalition) has been monitoring human rights and environmental violations caused by investment from Thailand in our neighboring country, and would like to call on state agencies, agencies affiliated to the state and state enterprises to act as follows;

1. The Thai government which represents Thai people, should refrain from giving financial assistance and intergovernmental investment to Myanmar until the situation gets calmed down and a democratically elected government is restored.

2. The Bank of Thailand, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the State Enterprise Policy Office with their oversight on banking and investment of financial institutions and listed companies in the Stock Exchange of Thailand as well as state enterprises, should adhere to good business practice based on human rights as the two agencies have made a pledge to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP), in particular, the 15 Thai financial institutions which have signed the Responsible Lending Guideline by the Thai Bankers on 13 August 2019. This can help prevent the bankrolling and investment by Thai companies in projects involving the Army which is violating human rights of the people of Myanmar now.

3. The Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (Public Organization) and the Department of International Economic Affairs under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should suspend financial and technical assistance to any projects, particularly the loan assistance for the development of the two-lane road Link at Phu Nam Ron checkpoint, the Thailand-Myanmar border, Kanchanaburi to the Dawei Special Economic Zone in Myanmar worth 4.5 billion baht which is under the construction now.

4. Human rights institutions in Thailand including the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT) and the Rights and Liberties Protection Department under the Ministry of Justice should formally declare to urge private companies and state enterprises to regularly adhere to UNGP and recommendations in the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP) (2019-2023) as well as other human rights due diligence of various businesses in Thailand which may give rise to human rights violation in Myanmar.

5. The Thai government should declare its stance to stand by a government elected by the people and should not recognize the coup makers by the Myanmar Army as a legitimate administration.

We hope these agencies to place an importance on the above demands to set a standard and a stance to promote human rights in business operation by Thailand and to demonstrate sincere support of the Thai government and concerned agencies for the promotion of democracy in Myanmar. After receiving this letter, please give us a written reply at the above address within 15 days. We look forward to your cooperation and thank you very much.

Yours sincerely,

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