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Australian companies urged to withdraw from Burma


New Delhi (Mizzima) – Campaigners have called on Australian companies to pull out of Burma, as the military rulers are benefitting from their investments, helping prolong the regime’s rule.

Zetty Brake, a spokesperson of Burma Campaign Australia (BCA), on Tuesday said they have called on Australian companies including Jetstar airline to drop business deals in Burma.

Investment by Australian companies’ is estimated to have funded around US $ 2.8 billion to the Burmese regime in revenue, according to the BCA.

“With the revenue from Australian companies, the regime can fund 727 soldiers each year,” Brake said.

The BCA on Monday urged Jetstar airline to withdraw from Burma as the revenue props up the Burmese regime. Jetstar, in partnership with the state-owned Myanmar Airways International (MAI) operates four flights per week from Singapore to Rangoon.

The BCA said Jetstar airline’s tax payment to the department of civil aviation under the Burmese Transport Ministry is estimated to be over US $ 170,000 per year.

Brake said, “This estimate does not include the percentage of profits Jetstar would have to provide military-owned Myanmar Airways International.”

But Jetstar’s chief executive, Bruce Buchanan, in an interview with the Australian newspaper, Sydney Morning Herald, said the airline was not paying ‘Blood Money’ to the Burmese generals.

“'Financially, it's neither here nor there if we continue to operate the service. We're quite happy to pull out if we thought that in any way we are doing a bad thing by the people of [Burma],” the paper quoted Buchanan as saying.

“But whenever we look at it and talk to the [aid] agencies that are in there, they say it's a good thing … We are giving people access to get out and get education, aid agencies to get in there, and people reconnecting with friends and family,” Buchanan added.

In a statement on Monday, the BCA said Australian companies such as Andaman Teak Supplies Pty Ltd, Chevron, Gecko’s Adventure, Jetstar, Lonely Planet, Millers, Sri Asia Tourism and Twinza Oil have business interests in Burma and are propping up the military junta.

“Twinza Oil Ltd’s project alone will fund a quarter of Burma’s military spending for the next decade,” the statement said.

“In the interests of Burma and its people we urge Jetstar and other Australian companies to pull out of Burma and put an end to the blood money that they are putting into the pockets of Burmese dictatorship,” said Brake.

Brake argued that doing business in Burma only prolongs military rule in the country by funding the regime with critical funds and resources it needs to be in power.

Brake said if Australian companies continue doing business in Burma, the BCA would put pressure on the Australian government to impose targeted investment and trade sanctions against Burma and to outlaw any business deals with the regime.

Jetstar and Twniza Oil Ltd on Tuesday could not be reached for comment.


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 29 September 2009 21:32 )  

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