In 2002, Burma Campaign UK published the first ‘Dirty List’ of companies directly or indirectly helping the military dictatorship in Burma, or which were linked to human rights violations.
There had never been a call for blanket sanctions or a total boycott of everything from Burma, as there had been against the Apartheid regime in South
Africa. Human rights and democracy activists from Burma had instead called for targeted sanctions aimed at the military regime, and for companies not to do business with them.
Solidarity groups responded to the call by campaigning for governments to impose targeted sanctions, and campaigning for certain companies to end their involvement in Burma.
Burma Campaign UK published the ‘Dirty List’ as a tactic to pressure companies to stop funding the military dictatorship, and to draw attention to the
links between the UK and Burma. At the time the media paid little attention to the country, usually only reporting events if they involved Aung San Suu Kyi going into or out of house arrest.
The ‘Dirty List’ generated huge amounts of media coverage as people realised that companies with household names were involved in funding a regime that raped and killed ethnic minorities and tortured and jailed human rights activists. This in turn helped raise awareness and the political profile of Burma in the UK. This legacy lasts to this day, as demonstrated by frequent visits to Burma by British ministers.
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