20th May 2021, Bangkok, The Extraterritorial Obligation Watch Coalition (ETOs Watch) called on Thai gas companies to stop the flow of revenue to the Myanmar Army, which is aiding the army’s human rights violations against the people. The ETO Watch – a collective of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working on Business and Human Rights – made this request today via an open letter to PTT Public Company Limited (PTT) and PTT Exploration and Production PLC (PTTEP).
Teerachai Sanjaroenkijthaworn, Coordinator of ETOs Watch, said, “We call on PTT to suspend its payment to the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE). While technically, this company should be under the Myanmar government, practicality, it is subject to the absolute control of the Myanmar coup makers.
Without the oversight of a democratically elected civilian government, there is nothing to guarantee the revenues will be used to serve the interest of civilians, i.e., the people of Myanmar.
The lack of transparency, misuse of power, and the atrocities committed by the Myanmar Army against its own people leave us concerned that this revenue will be converted into weapons and ammunitions used to perpetuate the bloodshed against innocent people.”
Previously, the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), the members elected by the people of Myanmar, has submitted letters to foreign businesses or state enterprises that have invested in Myanmar, particularly in oil and natural gas. They call on these businesses to disengage from investment and cut business ties with the Myanmar Army immediately.
The CRPH urged foreign businesses and investors to place the revenue payments for the MOGE, the state enterprise now under the control of the coup makers, into a protected/escrow account due to fears that the revenue will end up in Myanmar Army’s coffers. They wrote to Thailand’s PTTEP, which co-invests in the Yadana and Yetagun gas pipeline projects. Most of the gas produced in this project is supplied to Thailand and purchased by PTTEP.
The Japanese Government, the biggest lender to Myanmar, has suspended new financial aid to Myanmar. The US has imposed economic sanctions targeting businesses linked to the Myanmar Army.
“The governments and businesses around the world have been appalled by the killing of nearly 800 people following the coup. They ask investors from Thailand to respect the demands of the people of Myanmar.
“We believe that suspending these revenues can help protect the reputation of the company from Thailand so that they aren’t seen as enabling the coup makers. In the long run, this will help protect Thailand’s interests and uphold good relationships with the people of Myanmar. We believe a good business should oblige by human rights,” added Treechai.
The CSO letter highlights that between 2017/18, PTT paid over 615 million US$ to the MOGE. Overall, gas revenues are estimated to contribute 50% of Myanmar’s foreign exchange now, and PTT provides at least half of it. This income is crucial to the survival of the coup makers. From PTTEP, the income amounts to more than 55.54 billion Myanmar Kyat or around 41.1 million US$ just from the Zawtika project.
Previously, the ETOs Watch has submitted letters to various Thai authorities asking them to suspend financial assistance to Myanmar. This includes the Neighboring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (NEDA), which is planning to bankroll the construction of the two-lane Dawei Road Link from Nam Phu Ron to the Dawei Special Economic Zone in Myanmar at the cost of 4.5 billion Thai Baht. In their response, NEDA says that it is ready to offer financial and technical support to a neighboring country under its full mandate.
“We sincerely hope the gas companies will respond to our concerns and demands. We believe our demands are reasonable and that it is possible to ensure the payment will benefit the people of Myanmar when a democratically elected government is restored,” said Teerachai.
Read the open letter below